Leadership personality: What is your preferred style?

I’ve always been impressed with the Myers-Briggs (Personality) Type Indicator. In an intensive week of training that led to certification in administering the MBTI, I learned how useful it is to be aware of our preferences in key areas, such as preferred decision-making process.

Throughout that training and many years of using the MBTI, I’ve kept in mind that we can’t be put in boxes, that we are each unique – and that awareness of our personality types can make life easier and improve our personal and professional relationships.
The Myers-Briggs has a long and interesting history and high reliability scores. I will undoubtedly continue to use it. Lately, however, I’m drawn to a related instrument, the MMDI (Mental Muscle Diagram Indicator). This assessment, too, is based on the theories of Isabel Briggs Myers and C.G. Jung. It was developed by Steve Myers (not related to Isabel). The MMDI is readily available in an online questionnaire and especially helpful in discovering your preferred leadership style. Eight leadership styles are identified and described. Your results will tell your preferred style, and provide an optional longer report if you want.
Participative leaders prefer to achieve results through teamwork and collective involvement in projects. They like to inspire followers to own the tasks and to feel responsibility for the process as well as the results. This style is highly cooperative. Examples of leaders who prefer this style include arbitrators, facilitators and team coaches.
The Ideological style of leadership is characterized by the promotion of certain ideals and values. It is based on a strong belief system that is shared by the group, and most of the time and energy goes into supporting those shared beliefs and aligning with associated causes. Ideological leaders might be environmental campaigners, religious leaders, philanthropists and some political leaders – those motivated by causes rather than constantly gaining more power.
Change-oriented leaders like to explore new and better ways of doing things, as well as uncovering hidden potential in people or organizations. They expect that things can be improved, that “there is always a better way.” Change-oriented leaders might pursue careers as change consultants, entrepreneurs, or may be brought into an organization to energize the emergence of a new culture, which hopefully will refresh the system and be a catalyst for new growth. This can work well if given time and tolerance for the messy early stages.
The Visionary style of leadership is preferred by those who have developed a kind of sixth sense about what the future holds. They can envisage what potential customers will be looking for, hidden trends, and other aspects of the long-term future. They might be strategists, marketing experts, or those gurus who can discern how complex markets operate.
Executive leadershipfits best those who like to organize the way things are done. They might design the performance management systems that tie together achievement and reward.
A Leadership Theorist style is characterized by those who like to keep abreast of different types of leadership research, and incorporate theories into their own organizations. They search for the best models of how an organization works and how they can tweak those models to improve performance. Examples of leadership theorists would include academics, writers and executive coaches.
Action-oriented leadership involves taking action and leading by example. These leaders have a strong sense of the “now” and like to focus on the immediate task until it is finished. They might be surgeons, firefighters, sportsmen/sportswomen or military people leading from the front. The rest of the team supports the work of the action-oriented leader.
Goal-oriented leaders like to be involved in setting clear, specific goals that they know can be achieved. These leaders are grounded in knowledge and realism, are aware of the organizational culture and traditions and may lead the organization in setting a sequence of goals as steps toward a long-term outcome. Examples of foal-oriented leaders would include teachers, sports coaches, sales managers and mentors.
It is important to remember that these are preferred styles, and depending on your experience or situation, you may well operate from a blend of two or more styles, or be in a role where your leadership style is not closely related to your preferences on the MMDI or MBTI. It is equally important to remember that whenever we operate outside of our preferred personality or leadership type, we will experience more stress and will need to find healthy ways to compensate for that.
Jo Gorissen is a certified transition coach and a former Milwaukee area resident. She can be reached at jgorissen1@gmail.com.

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