Close Menu

    Jan 22, 2016    |   Aidan Millar

A Leader’s Temperament: Benefits and Challenges

businessman-307732_1280 (2) Great leaders have strengths. Unbeknownst to some of them, they also have weaknesses. Coaching these leaders generally involves two steps. First, helping them identify their strengths and acknowledge their weaknesses. Second, helping them understand how these affect their ability to lead. An efficient and insightful way to examine leadership style is to use something like the Temperament model because it provides insight into how a person views and exercises power and authority.

The Temperament model is based on four different clusters of behaviour or activity patterns. If you are familiar with the MBTI® instrument, identifying temperament is straightforward – look for the following combinations of preferences – Intuition and Feeling (NF), Intuition and Thinking (NT), Sensing and Judging (SJ), Sensing and Perceiving (SP).

NF Temperament – Leaders of People (ENFP, INFP, ENFJ, INFJ)
For NF’s, leadership power is found in personal relationships. They strive to relate to others personally and win their commitment. In order to do this, NF’s are inspirational, sincere, and respectful of others for their contribution. NF leaders do not want people to
simply follow them, but desire a connected, cohesive group that firmly believes in their work.

Development Tips:
Challenges for NF leaders often arise from their tendency to be too idealistic. Encourage your NF clients to step back to gain an objective view of the facts and parameters before making decisions or communicating action plans to their team.

NT Temperament – Competence is Key (ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, INTP)
For NT’s, leadership power resides in competence. NT’s are focused on objective clarity and adopt a logical, strategic analysis of issues. Since they are highly focused on competence, they tend to be quick to criticize, which they believe will help others improve. Of course, other temperaments tend not to take the criticism this way.

Development Tips thinking-outside-the-box-33399_1280 (2)
Challenges for NT leaders often arise from their tendency to be overly critical and competitive. Help your NT clients understand the value in thinking about – and pointing out to others – positives in their ideas before diplomatically pointing out what may be missing.

SJ Temperament – Company People (ESTJ, ISTJ, ESFJ, ISFJ)
SJ’s believe that power lies in the structure and hierarchy of the organization and groups they work with. SJ’s rely on the system of their organization and the traditions their workplace has established. They place a lot of value in the workplace hierarchy. As leaders, they emphasize the importance of efficiency and practicality. They strive to impose order on their work, and pay close attention to details.

Development Tips
Challenges for SJ leaders often arise from their tendency to be too bureaucratic. Remind your SJ leaders that stepping back and asking what the bigger purpose is will ensure they align their everyday activities with a bigger-picture vision.

hands-220163_1280 (2) SP Temperament – Trouble Shooters (ESTP, ISTP, ESFP, ISFP)
SP’s exercise power by solving problems and acting with cleverness and timeliness. SP’s live in the moment, and are willing to ignore personal relationships and organizational procedures if they are confining the SP’s ability to resolve the needs of the moment. Since SP’s are spontaneous and resourceful they are good trouble shooters and effective in crisis management.

Development Tips
Challenges for SP leaders often arise from their tendency to be too expedient. Remind your SP clients that while they can easily re-calibrate, change direction, or ‘jump in’, those that follow them will often need more time and guidance before decisions or change are introduced.


For more ideas around using the MBTI in leadership development, check out Introduction to type and Leadership!