Thursday, June 01, 2006

Leadership Studies Don't Work, and I'm an INTP

Rob at the BusinessPundit posts...

I am an INTP. We are one of the smallest of the Myers Briggs groups, and that does create problems for us at work. But more importantly, it explains why studies about leadership, are (usually) irrelevant. Someone told me that...

Well Rob, I'm an INTJ, and we are also one of the smallest of the Myers Brings groups, but I don't think that really matters. I've not seen a single study that provides compelling support that knowing your Jungian personality type helps. The marketing material claims that the "self-knowledge" gained thought the Myers Briggs grouping is a stepping stone to understanding how you fit in with high performance teams, but I'm not convinced.

However, I whole-heartedly agree with you on the other point in your post; leadership studies don't work. Better yet, it's not just the studies that don't work. It is the idea that Leadership can be drawn out of the myriad of activates that, for lack of a better word, a leader does that doesn't work.

I am constantly seeing lists of attributes differentiating Leaders and Managers. The focus appears to be to differentiate managers and leaders along the lines of what is sexy and fun. Leadership is about doing the sex and fun stuff while management is about doing all the other stuff. Interestingly enough, Management activities tend to fall within the realm of the measurable while Leadership activities fall within the realm of the intangible. It seems to me that a whole Leadership Industrial Complex run by inumerable Leadership Gurus with a new book to sell has been using this artificial dichotomy to completely distort the importance of “Leadership” to organizational success.

The Leadership Epidemic is my attempt to establish a better understanding of this phenomenon. What are your thoughts, do you believe we are experiencing a Leadership Epidemic?

Check out Rob's post at the BusinessPundit...

1 comment:

Michael McKinney said...


I just found your blog and find it quite interesting. Rob’s is right. Working on one skill will not make you better leader.

I recently quoted Marshall Goldsmith on a post that I think is relevant here:

The build-on-your-strengths idea makes total sense when it’s at the level of the occupation. For example, Tiger Woods should be a golfer, not a stand-up comedian. He’s building on his strengths becoming a golfer and he shouldn’t be a stand-up comedian. On the other hand, I think what happens on the build-on-your-strengths stuff, is people misinterpret it. So they would say, “Well, Tiger Woods is a great driver, so he doesn’t have to worry about putting. He can ignore his putting.” He really cannot ignore his putting. It’s part of his job. If you’re a leader and you’re great at strategy but terrible with people, you can’t just sit there; if your CEO, and say, “It doesn’t matter.” It does matter. It all matters. You can’t sit there an ignore part of your job and say “I’m not good at that therefore I have an excuse to ignore it.” All that does is reinforce a useless stereotype.

I think it is helpful to know your “M-B type” (I also happen to be INTJ) from most any measuring device, as it gives you a point to work from. It might also indicate what you initially could bring to the table. But as an indicator of whether or not you will be a good leader, it is outside the scope of the instrument.

It’s true too, that it is considered “sexy” to be a leader and not a manager. But, a leader must be both. Keep up the good work!

Michael McKinney