With the help of the MBTI ® Tool
Written by Linda K. Kirby & Nancy J. Barger
The basic type guidance for influencing leaders is to “speak to” their primary motivation. Every type of leader cares about colleagues and employees; every type of leader is committed to achieving results; but type helps us identify priorities and the levers that are likely to be most influential with different types of leaders.
Type offers a number of ways to understand differences and identify ways to influence leaders, with the four-letter type combinations (e.g., ISTJ, ENFP, etc.) giving the fullest information. We know, however, that it is sometimes difficult to use whole type. It is often useful in training programs and developing strategies to use pairings of preferences and form 4 groups as is suggested in the next paragraph.
For working with leaders, we suggest creating four type categories by using the last two letters of the 4-letter type – TJ, TP, FJ, and FP – combinations which identify how a leader makes decisions and then implements them.
Analysis of type distributions of leaders around the world demonstrates the importance of these pairings: TJs typically make up 60% – 80% of people in leadership groups, followed by TPs, then FJs, and, the smallest percentage, FPs. In our representative adult samples (US and UK), TJs make up only about 25% of the adult population, FPs about 30%.
To influence TJ leaders:
- Identify the problem you see or the request you are making and the positive or negative impacts they have on efficiently achieving organizational or group goals.
- Give two or three options you have considered, with your logical analysis of each, including pros and cons.
- Expect to be interrupted by the TJ’s questions or analysis; stay calm and detached (that is, don’t take the TJ questions or analysis as a comment on you).
- Don’t hesitate to push back, to stand up to them by explaining logically why your preferred alternative is the best way to proceed.
To influence TP leaders:
- Be direct, clear and concise.
- State the problem you see or request you are making and ask for their help in identifying possible solutions.
- Ask them if you can start to implement one of these solutions and then go ahead – the TP leader is likely to be focused on results, not process.
- Ask them if they want to be involved in the process or if they would prefer to get a report from you at the end.
To influence FJ leaders:
- Develop a relationship with them – communicate frequently about what you are doing and why, ask them about themselves.
- Talk about the impact of the problem or request on specific people – yourself, others they know.
- Present your ideas and solutions as ways to support people while also achieving organization goals.
- Include them, invite them to be part of the solution.
To influence FP leaders:
- Present the problem or request in terms of core values and mission of the group.
- Ask for their instincts and insights about the problem.
- Include lots of information about people and people’s reactions.
- Ask them at what stage of the process they want to be included; encourage them to bring their energy and commitment to the start of the process.
It’s natural for all of us to try to influence others with the approach that works for us. Paying attention to leaders’ type differences and modifying our natural style, can make us more effective influencers.