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So You Think You Are a Leader?

You have people reporting to you – does that make you a leader? Technically, and according to Webster and Google, the answer is yes because you are the person that directs, (commands, guides, etc.) a group or organization.   But Webster and Google need updating.   A better definition today is this: Leadership is accomplishing change through the efforts of others. Notice that the emphasis has shifted from “doing or telling” to “achieving results”.   If your team or organization is not achieving results, you are failing as a leader and will likely be replaced.   It’s the one job where success depends not only on your skills and efforts (what you do) but also on the efforts of others (how you influence).

Leadership models today are built around developing self-awareness and self-management (knowing strengths and managing limits) and developing social awareness and relationships (empathy for others).   Effective leadership is highly contextual – what works in one situation may not work in another. Research confirms that the most effective leaders are differentiated by having better than average emotional intelligence (EQ).   The worst leaders are generally unaware of how their behavior affects others and underestimate how much this impedes their effectiveness.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®)assessment is an effective tool to help leaders develop self-awareness as well as develop social awareness and build relationships. It helps leaders understand how their individual preferences affect their leadership style and it also helps them understand those that they lead.  The MBTI® assessment makes Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type both understandable and highly practical by helping individuals identify their preferences in four areas (called dichotomies, because each is a pair of opposites):

  • Where you focus your attention and direct your energy – toward the external world of people and activity or toward the internal world of ideas and inner experiences (Extroversion – Introversion).
  • How you take in information – how you make sense of the world around you and the information you receive (Sensing or Intuition).
  • How you make decisions based on that information– what you give the most weight to in choosing between options (Thinking or Feeling).
  • How you deal with the world – how you organize your life to be successful in the world (Judging or Perceiving)

An individual’s 4 preferences (one preference for each area) combine to yield one of sixteen possible personality types. Personality does not determine behavior, but it influences the choices that determine how we act. Understanding your personality type and how this influences your thinking, behavior, and relationships will help you become a stronger leader. The MBTI® is widely used because it is easy to grasp and extremely insightful – creating many “aha” moments for individuals and teams.

If you are leader who wants to achieve greater team results, take steps to develop your self-awareness and build relationships, consider incorporating the MBTI® into your professional development plan. SSC Coaching is certified to administer the MBTI® assessment and conduct workshops to interpret the results and facilitate the development of strategies to enhance performance.   Call me for a free consultation.


Source materials for this article include: 1) Primal Leadership: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee; 2) Principal-Centered Leadership by Stephen R. Covey; and 3) Introduction to Type and Leadership by Sharon Lebovitz Richmond.



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