Close Menu

    Aug 09, 2017    |   Psychometrics

Balancing Leadership Polarities with the MBTI Instrument

balancing leadershipIn my recent webinar, I spoke about the impact of leadership, and why leadership development is so important. The key requirements for any successful organization include:

  • Talented team members
  • Good managers/coaches
  • Engaged team members
  • Effective strategies
  • Monitoring systems

It probably comes as no surprise that each of these are either influenced or controlled by those in leadership positions. Effective leadership directly links to organizational success, while poor leadership results in failure. To be an effective leader is not that easy, and I use the MBTI instrument to help leaders examine two key polarities that they need to manage if they are to be successful. Polarities, as popularized by Barry Johnson, are two seemingly opposite activities/values that can complement each other when used in a balanced way. The two key polarities for leadership are:

  • Present oriented vs Future oriented
  • Task focused vs People focused

To be an effective leader you need to be able to find the right balance between dealing with the present and planning for the future; and you must also balance completion of tasks and connecting with and inspiring people. You can use the MBTI assessment to directly examine these polarities by looking at the Sensing-Intuition and Thinking-Feeling preference dichotomies. Every leader will have a preference for either present or future, task or people; but the need to find the balance between both is critical. I ask leaders the following questions:

Given what you know about your preferences for Sensing or Intuition, Thinking or Feeling, what aspects of the two key polarities do you manage well? Which aspects of the polarities do you struggle with? Their responses then point to the path of development.


To dig deeper into this topic, you can view our recorded webinar here.

You can also access our research study on Personality Type and Leadership here.

And, to browse our collection of MBTI-related leadership resources, visit our Knowledge Centre.