MBTI™ preferences have profound bearing on the type of management and leadership style individuals adopt and on how they prefer to be managed. Indeed the MBTI is a very powerful tool for management development as it enhances self-awareness and helps managers to play to strengths and compensate for weaknesses. Knowledge of the MBTI also sensitises managers to different preferences of their staff and shows how, if these preferences are respected, they can encourage employees to do their best work. Some of these issues have been raised in the section on teams but there are additional points to be made about the MBTI and management.
How the four preferences affect management style
Extravert – Introvert
Managers’ preference for E or I is usually evident in their behaviour as it affect the extent of the interaction they want with their staff. In fact, some of the MBTI literature on management classifies managers into those who manage 'by-walking- around' and those who manage by 'concentrated- desk-time'. (*see note)
Extravert managers stress the importance of meetings and staff getting together and they often see their job as energising and motivating staff. Introvert managers do hold meetings, as they can see their use, but they generally try to carve out quality time for themselves to work in private. If they don’t, they usually feel acutely stressed and drained and conscious that they are not able to do their best work.
Managers’ preference for S or N also plays an important part in the type of information they choose to pay attention to. Sensing managers stress the importance of facts and spend quality time protecting the quality of what the organisation does now. Intuitive managers are much more motivated by vision and how they can encourage innovative ways of working. Clearly these preferences have a huge impact on what managers expect from their staff. It may also account for the fact that sensing mangers are more common at supervisory and mid-management level while the majority of executives have a preference for intuition.
As much of a manager’s job is making decisions and evaluating, clearly the T/F dimension has a huge part to play in a manager’s preferred style. Thinking managers favour objectivity and so they find it easier to make 'tough' decisions than their feeling counterparts. Thinkers also tend to focus on what they think is wrong with something, rather than what is right, and frequently believe 'criticism leads to improvement.' It is often easier for thinkers to point out to staff what they are doing wrong than to give routine praise and appreciation.
Feeling managers, on the contrary, believe it is important to build staff morale and motivation and praise is often one of the tools they will use to do this. F managers, particularly the extravert feelers, are also likely to try to forge closer personal relationships with their staff than T managers.
Judging – Perceiving
The majority of managers have a preference for TJ and see the world in terms of cause and effect. This probably accounts for the fact that most organisations put a great emphasis on J skills and perspectives: goals, targets, action plans abound. P managers are much more keen to be flexible and keep their options open and are more likely to be 'opportunists' who amend their plans quickly if something better comes along. Many of the new management textbooks are now emphasising the importance of flexibility and of P skills in general.
Each of these four preference scales affect managers’ attitudes in one way or another. However, most of the literature on the MBTI and management stresses the importance of temperament theory in understanding management styles. Use the menu on the right to read about temperaments and also how these apply to management/leadership styles.
* See Ann M. O’Roark, Centre for Application of Psychological Type leaflet entitled 'MBTI and Preferred Management Practices,' 1987.
© Carol Craig
MBTI, Myers-Briggs, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries; OPP Ltd. has exclusive rights to these trademarks in the U.K.