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    Apr 06, 2017    |   Aidan Brass

Research Study: Exploring Common Pitfalls of Leadership Types

In an earlier issue of Psychometrics Direct, we explored the strengths of particular function pairs in Leaders (see that article here) based on our recent Personality Type and Leadership Study. This week, we will address the challenges or blind-spots that can often hinder leaders as a result of the same natural styles.

This information is especially useful for coaching and developing leaders to mitigate their challenges while they continue to leverage their effectiveness.

ST Leaders: “Doing it Right the First Time”


Common pitfalls of ST leaders were found to include an overemphasis on bottom-line considerations and a lack of relationship building; not surprising given this type combination. Their most commonly reported pitfalls included operating too independently (49% of those surveyed), not sharing enough information (44%), a lack of awareness of team member needs (44%), and allowing day-to-day issues to interfere with long-term plans (44%). As a result, some recommendations for ST leaders to be more effective are:

  • Find ways to connect with others beyond the task at hand
  • Delegate more frequently by reviewing what to keep versus what to empower others to do
  • Take time to evaluate opportunities for growth of self and others
  • Be more open to change and innovative methods

SF Leaders: “Lean on Me”

The majority of SF leaders surveyed reported a similar challenge to their ST counterparts in allowing the day-to-day issues to interfere with the long-term forecast (58%). This makes sense given both ST and SF tendencies to value the present (S preference) rather than future possibilities. Furthermore, SF’s also report that dealing with conflict is a key pitfall for them with 50% of those surveyed reporting this blind-spot. From this, SFs could develop by:

  • Stepping back from the tasks at hand to consider long-term implications
  • Communicating the analytical and objective reasons for their decisions
  • Take more time to consider new approaches and look for new opportunities
  • Learn how to give difficult feedback and manage conflict

NF Leaders: “Inspiration for the Future”

Due to a shared F preference, NF leaders also struggle in dealing with conflict, with 52% of those surveyed reporting that they tend to avoid it. Meanwhile, a distinct challenge for NFs tends to stem from overemphasizing the possibilities to the detriment of traction. In fact, 48% reported that they tend to overlook the practical issues that may hinder implementation of their vision. To round out their leadership style, NFs may want to focus more on:

  • Paying more attention to the necessary resources and details required for implementation
  • Seeing conflict as a possibility for better outcomes, rather than an obstacle
  • Learning to say ‘no’ and stand firm on things that are critical
  • Communicating more details and implementing action plans in more concrete terms

NT Leaders: “Begin With the End in Mind”

The key challenges for NT leaders seem to align with what we know about this unique function pair. Challenges voiced by this group included operating too independently (53%), not sharing enough information (46%), and not gathering input from those around them (41%). For NT leaders, their developmental areas may be to:

  • Seek out opportunities to personally connect with colleagues and subordinates
  • Take time to gather more information and feedback from others
  • Be patient and state things in a simpler, clearer fashion
  • Show appreciation for others’ contributions

Indeed, every type of leader has strengths and blind-spots. However, the key to effective leadership is managing to capture and leverage the strengths of one’s style while mitigating for the challenges of those very same preferences. The ability to lead others well comes from an ability to flex, balance and choose behaviours based on what is required of us, not simply what is habit.