What Your Myers-Briggs Type Says about Your Leadership Style

Play to your personality’s strengths and protect yourself from your weaknesses.
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Learning your type and what is says about you can help you leverage your natural strengths. (Photo: imtmphoto/Shutterstock)

Not surprisingly, your personality type has a huge influence on how you lead. Are you a natural-born persuader whose dominance sometimes rubs people the wrong way? A master strategist who’s hesitant to take risks? A business wizard with a tin ear for emotions?

Leon Tsao, an expert on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test, explained how each personality type approaches leadership. Haven’t taken the test yet? Take the official assessment here for a fee, or take a shorter, free test, 16Personalities, to find out which one of the 16 types you are, and what all these letters mean.

Learning your type and what is says about you can help you leverage your natural strengths and avoid traps you’re likely to fall into.

INTJ (Strategist)

Unlike stereotypical leaders, strategists prefer to stay behind the scenes, “pulling the puppet strings,” explained Tsao. Strategist leaders might prefer to use another employee to act as a figurehead.

Even though their rare combination of creativity and logic make them great at planning, they’re risk-averse. While this prevents them from making rash decisions, it also limits how far they can potentially go. Strategists should try to trust their intuitions more, even if that means taking a gamble.

INTP (Engineer)

Engineers are calm, logical thinkers, which means they’re great at figuring out choices and coming up with business plans.

On the other hand, “they get pushed around easily,” explained Tsao. Engineers in leadership roles need to remember to assert themselves from time to time; after all, their valuable ideas need to be heard.

INFJ (Confidant)

Confidants are “spiritual leaders,” said Tsao, and followers naturally buzz around them. “They create a group of friends and act like the caretaker of the group,” explained Tsao. Employees trust confidant bosses.

Plus, their deep insights can give them amazing ideas that seem to come out of nowhere; often, they seem to foresee events and prepare for them before they happen.

All this psychic power seems to come with a catch though: They’re not particularly efficient. Tsao doubts that many confidents would even want to run businesses.

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Dreamers like to think of the future, and can be extremely inspiring. (Photo: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock)

INFP (Dreamer)

Dreamers like to imagine the future. These passionate people can be very inspiring and know how to stir their followers, especially for a cause. This type can take a troubled business and inspire its employees to turn things around and make them better than ever.

“They’re just not good at structure,” said Tsao.

ISFP (Artist)

Artists are all about having visions and turning their visions into reality. They’re straightforward types who will tell you exactly what their plans and values are, making them great at communicating their visions to their teams and rousing people to join them.

“They’re often tough leaders,” said Tsao. “They can be dogmatic.” Artists should make sure they don’t invalidate their team members’ points of view.

ISFJ (Defender)

Defenders are socially savvy. “They know how to please people,” explained Tsao. They’re great at keeping both customers and employees happy. In a larger business, they’ve also got a knack for climbing to the top.

They’re not the most professional folks, though, and may have trouble keeping organized. Defenders should consider putting someone else in charge of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

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Craftsman know what they want are have the technical abilities to achieve it.(Photo: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)

ISTP (Craftsman)

Craftsmen strike a great balance: They know what they want, and they have the technical knowledge to achieve it. They understand their business’ ins and outs, from cash register quirks to growth plans. “They’re good potential leaders,” explained Tsao.

They’re not, however, all that skilled at creating harmony in a team. Craftsmen leaders should remember to take a break from business strategy every now and then to pay attention to the emotional needs of their employees.

ISTJ (Examiner)

Examiners know where they’ve been and where they’re going. “They’re good at creating a path,” said Tsao. These detail-oriented types take their past experiences into account and build precise, concrete plans.

“They’re not great at innovative thinking, though,” said Tsao. So if you’re an examiner, you might want to make sure you’re paying attention to your team’s ideas — they’ll think of things that won’t even occur to you.

ESTP (Persuader)

According to Tsao, persuaders are often what you think of when you picture leaders. They can speak eloquently and rally up a crowd. When it comes to running a business, they’ve got their act together.

“They come into a group, and they want to get to the top,” said Tsao. “They do whatever it takes.”

While useful, their tendency to be dominant can sometimes rub people the wrong way, and persuaders sometimes get more caught up in winning than in building something useful. If you’re a persuader, you should make sure you’re not coming off as overly competitive to your coworkers — they’re on your team, after all.

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Entertainers are natural-born leaders. (Photo: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock)

ESFP (Entertainer)

Like persuaders, entertainers are natural leaders, and they’re a little more respectful than their persuader cousins. They have an uncanny ability to empathize with their team members while barreling full-throttle toward a goal. “When they have their minds set on something they really want, they go after it,” said Tsao.

These types are great in action, but they’re not so savvy when it comes to thinking ahead. “They don’t plan,” said Tsao. “They just do.”

ESTJ (Overseer)

Overseers strive for order and efficiency, and they’re great at keeping a business running smoothly.

They’re often more into being managers than CEO’s, since “their mission isn’t necessarily to climb to the top,” explained Tsao. “They want to learn.” This type loves acquiring knowledge and teaching others, making them great mentors.

ESFJ (Supporter)

Supporters are hyper-aware of their team’s emotional needs. Keeping a group unified is second nature to this type; they build great teams, but they sometimes focus on unity at the expense of keeping business running smoothly.

“The primary objective is that everyone’s getting along,” said Tsao. “It’s not necessarily about getting things done.”

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Mentors are natural leaders, but need to make sure that they listen to the needs of others. (Photo: Phovoir/Shutterstock)

ENFJ (Mentor)

Mentors are born salesmen. These charismatic visionaries can inspire others to help them get a business off the ground or go in a new direction. “They’re good at manipulating people,” said Tsao.

This natural talent can go awry, however, when their minions start feeling taken advantage of. Mentors should take care to listen to the needs of their employees.

ENTJ (Chief)

Chiefs, as you may suspect, have a lot of business know-how and gravitate toward being entrepreneurs. “They probably started a business in middle school mowing lawns,” explained Tsao.

Chiefs aren’t satisfied with the status quo. They tend to switch jobs pretty often to gain new experiences and skills. When they own businesses, they want to do more than keep their operations chugging along, preferring to expand into larger enterprises. “They like the idea of creating an empire,” said Tsao.

ENTP (Originator)

These creative visionaries are always coming up with new ideas. “What if?” is their favorite question, and in a constantly changing business environment, this outlook is golden.

But originators’ highly empathetic natures make it tough for them to give orders. “They might have some trouble pushing people to do things,” said Tsao.

ENFP (Advocate)

Advocates “know how to talk to people,” said Tsao. They’re flirty and can win over employees, investors and customers with their charm and uncanny ability to form close bonds in minutes.

They’re not necessarily great at nuts and bolts though, and should probably put someone else in charge of paperwork.

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