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Leadership... nature or nurture?

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OK, I know I said in my last blog that you won’t hear from me until February but, just like all good pharmacists, I have been using the New Year break to catch up with my CPD recording so I thought I would share some of my observations here.  My ninth and last record for 2011 (well the first for 2012 as I will complete it today) is about the MBTI.  In my first blog I mentioned the MBTI as an opportunity for some CPD and, having read the MBTI book properly now, it is much, much more interesting than I initially thought it would be.

So, let’s start with a bit of background, all of it taken straight from the MBTI book and I will keep it as brief as possible.  The MBTI is developed from Carl G Jung’s theories of personality and has 8 mental processes which are available and used by everyone.  These are: Perceiving (P), Sensing (S), Intuition (N), Judging (J), Thinking (T), Feeling (F), and the orientations of energy Extraversion (E) and Introversion (I).  There are then 16 combinations of each of these types indicated by the MBTI.

What do these preferences mean?  Where people prefer to focus their attention and get energy (Extraversion or Introversion), the way people prefer to take in information (Sensing or Intuition), the way people prefer to make decisions (Thinking or Feeling) and how people orientate themselves to the external world (Judging or Perceiving).

Now, you will note that I am an MBTI type of ENFJ.  Here is what the book says about these types.  I am blatantly cherry picking some of the sentences just in case you are wondering!

ENFJs base decisions on personal values.  They use their feeling primarily externally, radiating warmth and energy.  They look for and find the best in others and prize harmony and cooperation.  They see meanings and connections and can be very insightful about others.  They are curious about new ideas.  They naturally see the potential for growth in others and devote energy to help others achieve it.

Under great stress ENFJs may find themselves suddenly and uncharacteristically critical and fault-finding with others.  They generally keep these negative opinions to themselves, but they find such thoughts troubling and upsetting.

This is now where things get interesting... the diametric opposite of ENFJ is ISTP so let’s look how we are different in a few things like dealing with change, leadership styles and needs.

Change: IP – curious and seek information, internally assess information with their internal judgement using value or logical principles.  EJ – apply judgement out loud by questioning, if questions answered then move quickly to plan and implement change.

Leadership: TP – Value and display technical expertise, create consistent and orderly frameworks for working.  Objective, sceptical and curious.  FJ – Make decisions based on personal values and empathy with others, strive for harmony, consensus and a supportive environment, are expressive and inspiring.

Needs: ST – precise, step-by-step instructions, logical, practical reasons for doing something.  NF – General direction with freedom to do it their own creative way.

From Wikipedia, ISTJ are the most common (11-14%) and ENFJ are least common (2-5%).  This can explain why, in my organisation, people approach their work, their decision making and change completely differently to me.  There is a lot more to this than I have written about here but it has brought home to me how and why people are so different.  Those of you who know me will have noted that the ENFJ description is pretty accurate for me and explains why I struggle so much in understanding how ISTJs (and ISTPs) think and behave!

I have written too much already but the MBTI types are only preferences, much like writing with one hand is a preference and you could write with the other hand if you needed to but it would be unnatural, awkward and clumsy.  Talking about preferences... I play football and kick with my right foot, I used to play cricket and bowled with my right hand but batted left-handed, I play golf and swing left-handed but putt right handed, what does that say about me!!??

Have I ended up in the job that suits my preferences or have my preferences changed to suit my job?  Is this all a case of nature or nurture in terms of my personality preferences?

Next time I hope to write about my first academic residential in Warwick where we will have the pleasure to be in the company of some VIPs, Mr Andrew Lansley (Secretary of State for Health) and Sir David Nicholson (NHS Chief Executive)... excuse me while I pick up my jaw from the floor and reattach it to my face!

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