Leadership and the Sensing–Feeling (SF) Process Pair
People with SF preferences (ISFJs, ISFPs, ESFPs, ESFJs) typically take a “thoughtful helping of others” approach to leadership. They consider how the factual information they provide (who, what when, why, where) might help others in a here-and-now way. They tend to have a supportive and practical leadership style, offering information that can be useful today instead of someday.
If SF informs your leadership style, you may want to consider how this approach is affecting members of your team. Some of them may appreciate your detailed and helpful leadership style, but others may find your approach too restrictive and closed to new, less than concrete ideas. Remember, some people feel empowered when they get to explore possibilities, whether they act on these ideas or not.
If ST informs your leader’s leadership style, try to remember that this approach can be really helpful when you’re having trouble making your big-picture idea a reality. Try not to get annoyed when your ST leader wants you take a more practical and grounded approach to it.
Let’s take a quick look at each of these four-letter MBTI types and their leadership attributes:
ISFJ Preference Leaders
Not one of the more common leadership types, people who prefer ISFJ make up almost 4% of leaders around the world. By the way, they make up almost 14% of the general population (the highest percentage of any of the types in the general population). Their preferences may help them take information from what they have learned in the past and apply it in the present in practical ways that are considerate of others. During initial stress they may trust only past experience, using language like “that’s not how we do it around here” and have difficulty considering new ways to tackle problems.
ISFP Preference Leaders
One of the rarest of the leadership types, people who prefer ISFP make up almost 2% of leaders around the world. Now, just because we don’t find a lot of people who prefer ISFP in leadership positions does not mean they cannot make outstanding leaders—we know that leaders often promote others who are just like them. Their preferences may help them stick to values that are important to leading an organization, as well as understand the practical reality of new ideas. During initial stress we might find them withdrawing emotionally and sinking into self-pity.
ESFP Preference Leaders
Another one of the rarest leadership types, people who prefer ESFP make up almost 3% of leaders around the world. Again, just because we don’t find a lot of people who prefer ESFP in leadership positions does not mean they cannot make outstanding leaders—we know some people self-select out of leadership roles. ESFPs’ preferences may help them understand what is practical and what is not, as well as sticking to values that are important to them and the organization. During initial stress they may be prone to working long hours, overeating, over-exercising—overindulging in general—and obsessing over things that previously were not important.
ESFJ Preference Leaders
We find a somewhat small percentage of leaders of this type not just in the U.S. but all over the world. People who prefer ESFJ make up about 5% of leaders. Their preferences may help them consider how their decisions affect others as well as avoid repeating mistakes from the past. During initial stress they may become so concerned about how others feel that they don’t take care of themselves.
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