INTJ Stare

INTJ Stare

INTJ Stare

As an already well established CEO of MacIntyre, a learning disability charity, a parent of a student at one of our schools said to me: “Do you know you have the classic INTJ stare”.  “What stare”, I said, looking back intensely!  The parent was a psychologist who specialised in personality profiling for big corporate employers and he was referring to one of the Myers-Briggs personality types.  Something I was completely unfamiliar with.  “Let me do your profile- you might find it illuminating”.

Afterwards I asked a few of my colleagues if they ever noticed me staring: “Absolutely” they each responded and went on to mention how they have felt the need to check for crumbs around their mouth, or wondered if I had noticed their ears going red and, even worse, warning new colleagues not be worried.  I had no idea!  Sure enough the results came back and I was apparently a “nail on” INTJ: Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking and Judging.

It gets worse.  Not only do people with my profile make others self-conscious about food debris we can be quite hard work as line managers.  Among our many unhelpful attributes are: a tendency to abruptly withdraw from social contact, a dislike of tears and emotional argument, a visceral rebuttal to irrationality and, we hate narrow-mindedness.  Which is in itself is a very narrow-minded attitude but then we can also be too literal!

These traits in a leader can be seen as: being hard to please, judgemental, unsupportive and rather intimidating (not just the stare).   This is most certainly NOT the style of leadership I espouse or should wish to have and therefore it was very good to know.  I am, of course, overstating somewhat but we all have a personality bias and this can be quite dominant when under pressure.   

There is no reason why all personality types cannot be effective leaders as the bias can be moderated and alternative styles learned.  What is required is a developing self-awareness- easier said than done.  Formal profiling certainly has its place, so too being open to feedback from colleagues and trusted peers.  Likewise, feedback from one’s mentor.   A good tool is to create a one page personal profile with one’s colleagues.  As you might guess it sets out on one page: what people like and admire about you (has to be positive!), what is important to you, and what is important for you to do your job effectively.

Do it from the perspective of your job role and be honest- do it together (perhaps with facilitation).  I have done a number over the years and have found it helps others to not misinterpret some of my odd characteristics and for me to gain insight into what is important for them.  Helps remove guess work and pre-assumptions.  A colleague once wrote in hers: “When presented with a new idea I need time to think it through.  Don’t judge my silence to be either assent or disagreement”.  That simple, honest statement, changed the way I ran meetings.  Likewise, I will write: “Despite my public role, I am naturally shy, therefore I need to withdraw sometimes to be on my own.”  Hopefully then people won’t see this as being anti-social.   Check out one page profiles, designed originally for people with learning disabilities to articulate their wishes and needs, they are a great communication tool for everyone.

By the way, if you are an introverted leader I highly recommend you read Susan Cain’s book: Quiet.