Everyone has the potential to be a leader. We all have our unique approaches to how we lead. These approaches may be referred to as our preferred leadership styles. There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ leadership styles; just the ones that come naturally to us.
Our MBTI® Type preferences shape our leadership styles. Preferences in leadership style are influenced by a combination of the judging functions (T or F) and the preferred orientation to the external world (J or P). Leadership style preferences may be characterized into the following types-
- FJ Preference (ESFJ, ENFJ, INFJ, ESFJ)-
Leaders with this preference may also be called ‘Value-Based Decision Makers’.
They tend to show concern and consideration for the needs of their subordinates by creating a supportive environment. They place importance on their personal values and are empathetic while making decisions. They strive to reach a consensus and maintain harmony within the team. To others, they may seem expressive, warm, inspiring and decisive leaders.
Possible challenges of FJ leaders are that they may get moralistic or rigid about their values, may try to put a positive spin on everything and may find it difficult to act without consensus.
- FP Preference (INFP, ENFP, INFP, ESFP)-
Leaders with this preference may also be called ‘Supportive Coaches’.
They tend to be inclusive, seek inputs and arrive at a consensus with subordinates while making decisions. They are mindful of their subordinates’ individual preferences. These leaders value collegial relationships where they share rewards with others. To others, they may seem warm, flexible and encouraging leaders.
Possible challenges of FP leaders are that they may change directions quickly which may seem inconsistent to others, avoid tough decisions and may appear to play favourites when they pay more attention to some people.
- TJ Preference (ISTJ, ENTJ, INTJ, ESTJ)-
Leaders with this preference may also be called ‘Logical Decision Makers’.
These leaders have a standard-centric approach to leadership. They tend to focus on systems, principles, overall impact and look at the rational assessment of outcomes while making decisions. They can be resolute in implementing those decisions. To others, they may seem analytical and decisive leaders.
Possible challenges of TJ leaders are that they may become overly critical, rigid about the ‘right’ way, may decide quickly and not include others in making quick decisions.
- TP Preference (ISTP, ENTP, INTP, ESTP)-
Leaders with this preference may also be called ‘Adaptable Problem Solvers’.
Leaders with this preference are effective in scenarios that have emergent problems and require agility. They tend to change course as and when new information surfaces. They value and display technical expertise. To others, they may seem objective, skeptical and curious leaders.
Possible challenges of TP leaders are that they may not give directions or may give ambiguous directions, may put off decisions for long and may appear detached and insensitive to others.
All leadership styles are valuable, but some are more appropriate than others depending on situations. Leadership development must involve learning to identify such situations and flexing one’s leadership style to be attuned to them. This would require consciously exercising non-preferred ways of deciding and holding off decisions. For example, a TJ leader may learn to delay making decisions to incorporate more inputs from others, an FJ leader may consciously avoid becoming rigid around their core values, an FP leader may learn to engage in objective feedback conversations, which involve critical aspects as well, and a TP leader may learn to share the rationale behind their decisions rather than assuming that it is obvious to others.
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