I’m an ENTJ

I’m an ENTJ – 100%. And based on a sample of 16,773 people, I’m 1.8% of the global population (for better or worse, currently the most rare personality type). How do I know? I was administered a “Step II” assessment which is based on The Myers-Briggs Company’s latest in psychology type assessments. They recently updated their work in November 2018 (which began in 1940 with Carl Yung, a Swiss psychiatrist). My assessment was based on the results of behavioral questions administered to 16,773 participants in 20 countries (delivered in over 30 languages/dialects).

After meeting with the CEO of The Myers-Briggs Company, Jeff Hayes, I was inspired to improve upon one of my leadership playbooks – executive team building. So I did some research on who was their top trainer and found Patrick Kerwin. Patrick has over 28 years of experience in working with teams, not just with Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessments, but relating those assessments to team building, management and leadership, coaching, organizational development, diversity and multicultural training.

As a result, I am now a certified practitioner of MBTI. What does this mean? Well, I’ve been using MBTI assessments for about 10 years with my senior teams. I wanted to up my game by making sure that I was properly assessing my senior team members and their personality types (including myself, of course).

A Little About ME

Based on a detailed assessment performed by Patrick Kerwin, here’s a summary about me:

I’m logical, analytical, and objectively critical. I like long-range planning and strategic thinking and prefer to be in charge. My focus is on ideas, and I like to think ahead, making a systematic effort to reach my objectives on schedule. I am impatient with confusion and inefficiency, and I can be tough-minded when I see these problems getting in the way. I prefer working with frameworks more than working with details. I like to come to quick decisions about how to proceed and then actively lead others forward accordingly. Systems and principles are important to me, and I apply principles to whatever I do. If I am to change my methods, I need to change my principles first. I value logic and consistency. I am likely to be most satisfied in a work environment that values long range planning, involves me in making decisions, and lets me see that the plans are implemented. People can count on me to take charge and make sure things are done competently. That’s me in a nutshell.

This assessment was based on Carl Yung‘s original work. Carl was influential in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, and religious studies. He worked as a research scientist at the famous Burghölzli hospital, under Eugen Bleuler. During this time, he came to the attention of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis. The two men conducted a lengthy correspondence and collaborated on a joint vision of human psychology. Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers were keen observers of personality differences and they not only studied and built on the ideas of Carl Yung, but they packaged his work in such a way to deliver assessments in a consistent and accurate way.

In early 2000, I became aware of the fact that that Myers-Briggs was (and is) the world’s most widely and universally used tool for understanding the personality differences among people, globally. As those who know me, I believe in data and statistical significance. But I also use simple classification to make decisions. I don’t believe that MBTI is the “end-all-be-all” but a simple classification of people that allows for a conversation and, thus, I’ve been using it for quite some time to start conversations with my senior team.

Given the opportunity in mid-2019, I decided to take a deeper look into my own personality and how I could improve my use of this tool to understand four basic elements of a senior team (caveat: this is MY interpretation of the MBTI personality preference pairs):

For those interested in what drives my leadership style as a CEO, you can get a deeper read into “me” across these personality type preferences below.

A deep dive into ME

Below are a few details about my ENTJ personality and what I’m doing to enhance them across four areas of my job as a CEO:

  • Communicating
  • Managing Conflict
  • Dealing with Change
  • Making Decisions

Then I’ll get into my more dominant personality processes, followed by my weaker processes. Then I’ll finish up with a reflection about me under stress.


Here are the aspects of how my personality type influences how I communicate, especially as part of a team.

My High-Level Personality FacetsMy Communication StyleWhat I’m doing to Enhance
InitiatingStart interactions by helping people get to know one another.Make sure that people actually need and want these introductions.
ExpressiveSay what is on my mind to those present.Recognize when it’s important NOT to say what’s on my mind and then don’t say it.
GregariousKnow a lot of people and easily pass on information.Make sure to be discriminating in what I communicate and to whom.
ActiveLike to communicate and interact with others face-to-face.Recognize when face-to-face communication may be intrusive or unnecessary.
EnthusiasticReadily show enthusiasm for the subject at hand.Be careful not to overwhelm and override others; make sure I ask for input.
Concrete–AbstractTalk about some of the facts and details as well as their meanings.Be aware of when I’m focusing on details and when on meanings and choose the focus that is better for the situation.
LogicalPresent my conclusions in a straightforward, linear, structured manner.Invite others to tell me alternative ways to look at the issue and take what they suggest seriously.
QuestioningWant to ask questions. Be selective in choosing questions to ask so as not to intimidate people.
Critical–AcceptingCritique or accept depending on the importance of the issue.Be aware that when I am stressed, as I’m more likely to be critical inappropriately.
ToughEmbody the phrase “Let’s get on with it!”Be aware that sometimes my way of moving ahead may be wrong for the situation.
MethodicalIdentify the steps and their order before starting a task.Be tolerant of others who plunge in without identifying steps, unless a critical piece is missing.


Managing Conflict

Conflicts are inevitable when working with others. People may differ in what they define as conflict, how they react to it, and how they reach resolution. Although perhaps unpleasant, conflicts may lead to improved situations and enhanced relationships when discussed and managed appropriately. Part of conflict management for every personality type includes:

  • Making sure that the work gets done while maintaining your relationships with the people involved.
  • Recognizing that all perspectives have something to add, but any perspective used exclusively may ultimately impede resolution of a conflict

The information below explains how my personality type may affect my efforts to manage conflict.

My Personality FacetsMy Conflict Management StyleWhat I’m doing to Improve
ExpressiveDiscuss the conflict and my emotional reactions to it with whoever is available.Be careful in selecting those with whom I talk and make sure I get help from those who can really make a difference.
GregariousInvolve others in resolving the conflict.Respect the need of some people to remain uninvolved until they are ready to participate.
EnthusiasticGet excited, even passionate, about the conflict and how upsetting it is.Be aware that my intensity may push people away and make the situation worse, so calm down as much as possible.
ReasonableMay spend too much time arguing that that my solution is right, even though it may ignore the impact on people.Stop, listen to others, and accept that a solution other than mine may be best.
QuestioningAsk many questions of others to reveal all the issues in the conflict.Be aware that people may take my questions as challenging rather than helpful in resolving the issue; be clear about my intent.
Critical–AcceptingLook for both what’s wrong and what’s right. Point out both of these sides in a kind, considerate way.
ToughPush my own convictions on how to resolve the conflict onto others.Recognize that my “take it or leave it” stance will further alienate people; force myself to consider other viewpoints.
Early StartingBelieve some conflicts can be avoided by starting work on projects early.Make allowances for people for whom starting early isn’t comfortable or effective.


Dealing with Change

Change is inevitable and affects people in different ways. To help my staff deal with change, I attempt to:

  • Be clear about what is changing and what is remaining the same,
  • Identify what I need to know to understand the change and then seek out that information. To help others deal with change,
  • Encourage open discussion about the change; be aware that this is easier for some than for others.
  • Make sure that both logical reasons and personal or social values have been considered.

Many factors of my personality influences my style of managing change….lets dig into this.

My Personality FacetsMy Change Management StyleWhat I’m doing to Improve
ExpressiveFreely share my feelings about the change with others.Be aware that some people may not want my input before they have considered the change on their own. Limit my expressiveness to those who appreciate my style and give others time to think things through on their own.
GregariousDiscuss the changes and their impact on you with many people.Be aware that people vary in their level of interest in what I have to say and thus be selective in whom I talk to.
Concrete–AbstractMay shift from one perspective to the other, thus confusing myself and those around me.Identify what’s most important and appropriate and use that perspective.
ImaginativeEnjoy the novel aspects of the change and the resourcefulness it requires.Recognize that there are real costs involved in pursuing the change.
Experiential–TheoreticalAre interested in theories or patterns that explain the immediate situation.Help others see the relevance of both perspectives.
OriginalEmbrace change for the sake of change!!!Be selective about which changes are really worth pursuing.
ToughWill actively embrace or resist some change, depending on whether I agree with it.Step back and consider whether my stance will really get me what I want in the long run.
CasualLike letting the changes unfold as they may; see surprises as a welcome challenge.Don’t dismiss the concerns of people who think ahead; acknowledge the validity of their concerns.
PlanfulPlan as far in advance as possible for the changes.Allow for the unexpected in my long-range plan—it will happen!
MethodicalWant to have details of the many steps necessary to implement the changes.Know that circumstances may require carefully developed steps to be changed in the moment.


Making Decisions

Effective decision making requires using all aspects of my personality: first to get the facts, next to identify possibilities, considering logical consequences, and last to know what’s important.

My style is Logical and Reasonable. This means that I:

  • Trust my way of making decisions and, therefore, readily make decisions based on logical analysis of data.
  • Recognize the impact of my decisions on people and relationships but see that as secondary (facts drive me).
  • Focus on accuracy to achieve a good decision.
  • Am seen as precise, objective, and confident.
  • Am sometimes seen as inflexible.
  • See some conflicts as “win-lose” situations, which is when I become competitive.

Questions I ask during my data gathering process:

  • What do we know? How do we know it? What else could this mean?
  • What else can we come up with?
  • Are there other interesting ideas?
  • Can you show me how it works? How is it all interconnected?
  • What’s a different way to do this?

Questions I ask during my final decision-making process:

  • What are the pros and cons?
  • What are the logical consequences?
  • But what about…? (digging into the data presented to me)
  • What’s wrong with this? What’s right with this?
  • Why aren’t we following through now?

Things I do to improve:

  • Pay careful attention to the answers.
  • Asking other questions, mostly around the impact on the people.

Dominant vs. Weaker Type Preferences

My favorite process is thinking (T) out loud (e) to communicate my analyses and logical decisions; followed by intuition (N) as my second (or auxiliary) process,  which provides balance as it is used mostly in an introverted (i) (inside my own head) way that allows me to develop a unifying vision of what really matters.

My less preferred process, Sensing (S), is used in particular situations that requires me to personally dig into the data (especially when someone on my team is NOT data-driven).  But doing so tires me, and frustrates me…unless I have tons of time where digging into the data allows me to ideate on additional future possibilities.

My least favored process, is feeling (F) and, when used, is mostly introverted (i) (I keep my feelings to myself).

Me under Stress

Each personality type tends to experience and react to stress in predictable ways. As an ENTJ, I may first exaggerate my favorite process, Thinking about the data, and in doing so becoming overly controlling and critical.

Then as my stress continues or increases, negative versions of my least favored process, Feeling, may take over. This means that I can feel unappreciated, emotional, and despairing.

To bring back some balance and return to being myself, I typically:

  • Stop what I’m doing and take a break from the activity or situation that is stressful.
  • Recall similar past experiences and what helped.
  • Look for additional information to help me see facts and possibilities that I hadn’t considered before.

Elements of ENTJ

Ok. Some of you data-driven people may be MBTI naysayers. But I’m a believer in simple supervised classification (think Naive Bayes for those ML/AI savvy)- it’s almost as simple as descriptive statistics. And 16 personality classes which have been evolved for over 75 years presents a simple classification tool that I feel is sufficient in starting a dialogue. It’s as simple as that. Do I use if for selection (aka recruiting)? No. I use it AFTER selection to help people understand each other’s work styles. So here’s a little more about me by classifier labels called personality “preference pairs”.

E (vs. I)

I prefer Extroversion (over Introversion). Here are some simple differences to help people understand my preference, E, over the opposite alternative, I.

N (vs. S)

I prefer Intuition (over Sensing). Here are some simple differences to help people understand my preference, N, over the opposite alternative, S.

T (vs. F)

I prefer Thinking (over Feeling). Here are some simple differences to help people understand my preference, T, over the opposite alternative, F.

J (vs. P)

I prefer Judging (over Perceiving). Here are some simple differences to help people understand my preference, J, over the opposite alternative, P.

It wasn’t just Patrick Kerwin who helped me understand my personality classification. 25 other people were involved in my personality assessment deep dive. *Whew*. Talk about knowing yourself through a few different lenses!!!