For years I have read also sorts of things about leadership. Some by great management gurus, the likes of Peter Drucker and Tom Peters, and some in journals like the Harvard Business Review and Forbes. While usually interesting, most seem to expound on conventional wisdom. Much of what they tell you is general in nature, and you probably already know. What’s more, very little is focused on architects.
Some years ago, I was doing research on the Myers-Briggs personality test and came across a study by Robert Gaarder that was about architects. He gave the tests to 100 architects with some fascinating results. He discovered that more than half of architects were either ENTJs (31%) or INTJs (20%) in the Myers-Briggs personality type scale. This compares to just 1.8% of ENTJs and 2.1% for INTJs in the entire population.
For those not familiar with the test, the letters stand for personality traits. ENTJ represents extraversion, intuition, thinking, and judging, and INTJ represents introversion, intuition,thinking, and judging,
Both E’s and I’s are natural born leaders. So most architects are suited for this role. However, there is a negative side to these personality types that can make an architect a bad leader rather than a good one. They sometimes have difficulties with interpersonal skills with some weaknesses in relating to other people or in confiding in them. NTJ’s are extremely logical, which leads to brutally honest communication. They become impatient with others due to a natural hatred of stupidity and inefficiency. They don’t realize that their brutal honesty can hurt people until it’s too late.
ENTJ’s are great organizers. However, they might fail to support the organization’s cause, sometimes making people question why they are following the ENTJ in the first place. Due to ENTJ’s natural assertiveness, it’s nothing for them to put ground rules in place, leaving everybody else to wonder what’s going. “There’s an arrogance about an ENTJ, often,” Gaarder observes. “It’s like, ‘Well, I know what’s best for this client’.”
INTJ’s who become leaders would rather stay in the background. Connecting with others in the workplace is not easy for them. Their preference is to work alone and don’t often try to build personal relationships. They have an independent nature that leads others to believe that they are uninterested in ideas other than their own.
So what does all this have to do with conventional wisdom? Well if we first recognize who we are, we can than open our eyes and ears to what experts tell us about what it takes to be a leader. It’s than our job to work on those traits that get in the way of our being an effective.
That may sound easy but it’s not. As a lifelong ENTJ, I have spent my entire career trying to tame my aggressive nature. It has often gotten in my way on my never ending search for success.
Too bad the Leadership Institute did not exist when I was younger. The programs that are provided are just what I needed to get to where I wanted to go. You all will be well served if you are able to attend. The agenda is focused on those of you looking to lead, in your firm, your profession, your community, and your government.
One final bit of advice on becoming a leader that the conventional wisdom gurus don’t talk about. You would be well served to find yourself a “Rabbi”. Not to be confused with the religious one, this person will mentor and give advice, but will also grease the skids for you to get good assignments and early promotions. With a sufficiently powerful rabbi, an individual can do almost anything bad and still have a good career.