Leadership Is Not A One Personality World

Myers-briggs

An article in the Federal Times (13 November 2011) called “To Change Government’s Culture, Recruit Leader, Not Loners” was very unfortunate.

According to the author, Steven L. Katz, “Government in particular, attracts, rewards, and promotes people who want to be left alone.As a result we have a government of loners…seen in the scarcity of people with a healthy balance of substantive and social skills who are needed for leadership, management, and bringing projects large and small to completion.”

Katz identifies these “loners” as Myers-Briggs ISTJ–Introverted Sensing Thinking and Judging. Moreover, he proposes that we consider “more people who test in the range of Myers-Briggs ENTJ–Extroverted Intuitive Thinking Judging”–to assume the leadership mantle instead.

In other words, Katz has a problem with people who are introverted and sensing. In particular, it seems that the introversion type really has Katz all bent out of shape–since this is what he rails at as the loners in our organizations. What a shame!

Katz is wrong on almost all accounts,except that we need people who can communicate and collaborate and not just in government:

1) Diversity Down The Toilet–Katz only acknowledges two Myers-Briggs Types in our diverse population–ENTJ and ISTJ.  He is either unaware of or ignores the other 14 categories of people on the continuum, and he promotes only one type the ENTJ–1/16 of the types of people out there–so much for diversity!

Further, Katz makes the stereotypical and mistaken assumptions that introverts are shy and ineffectual, which as pointed out in Psychology Today in 2009 (quoted in Jobboom) “Not everyone who is shy is introverted, and not everyone who’s charismatic and cheerful is extroverted.” Further, shy people are ‘routinely misunderstood as cold, aloof, or stuck up.”

Katz missed the point as taught at OPM’s Federal Executive Institute that all of us have something to learn, teach, and a preferred pathway to excellence.

2) By the Numbers–Contrary to Katz’s implication that introverts are a small and social inept portion of population that should shunned, a report in USA Today in 2009 states that ‘50% of baby boomers are introverts” as are 38% of those born after 1981 with the onset on the modern computing age, Internet, and social media. Interestingly enough, Katz is even dissatisfied with these Millennials who according to him: their “dominant form of communication and relationships is online and on cellphones.”

Moreover, according to a 2006 article in USA Today quoted on Monster.com, “Introverts are so effective in the workplace, they make up an estimated 40% of executives.

Included in these successful introverts are people like “Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Diane Sawyer, Andrea Jung, and Bill Nardelli”–Sorry, Steve!

3) Situational Leadership Is Key–While Katz is busy searching for personality type scapegoats to government problems, he is missing the point that Myers-Briggs is “neither judgmental not pejorative” and instead “helps assess the fit between person and job” (Reference: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in Organizations: A Resource Book).

In fact, according to a recent study published in Harvard Business Review (4 October 2010), introverts are not only incredibly effective, but are “the best leaders for proactive employees.” Moreover, HBR points out that “Both types of leaders, the extraverts and the introverts, can be equally successful or ineffectual…”

So for example, Introvert leaders (who are “more likely to listen to and process the ideas”) tend to be better leaders in a situation with a extroverted team, while extroverted leaders (who “end up doing a lot of the talking”) tend to excel with a more introverted one.

However, the ultimate key according to HBR is “to encourage introverted and extraverted behavior in any given situation”–that is to use situational leadership to lead and manage according to the situation at hand, and not as a one personality type fits all world!

Katz is right that communication and collaboration are critical skills, but he is wrong that there is only one personality type that gets us all there.

(Source Photo: here)

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