The myth of the perfect leadership personality: who wants a template leader anyway?

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Thu, 10/10/2013 - 08:24 by Bill McAneny
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Hollow manWe were asked by the CEO of a major organisation if he could use our Character Analysis as part of his drive to better understand his people. We kind of like this as it helps spread the word that business is a people game, and a contact sport. We asked how he intended to use the assessments: "Well I want to make sure we only hire ENTJs." We asked why he would want to do that: "Because they are the best types." We asked what type he was (we were being ironic). But it does raise a serious issue: often managers want to clone, ie recruit and develop in their own image.

So much is written about leadership and it does all tend to veer towards the charismatic, extravert, individual pointing upwards with everybody in awe. In reality we know this isn't right but it fits with the myths of leadership as being Caesar crossing the Rubicon.

So what Types do make the best leaders? The ones who take it seriously and who want to do it well. So how do we get to be great leaders? Understanding ourselves with all human foibles and idiosyncrasies and making the best of what we have and understanding our raw materials: the people we lead. So does an ESTJ make a better leader than an INFP? It depends on which ESTJ and which INFP! Should we have autocratic or democratic leaders? Well it depends upon the leader and depends on the situation. When I am on the operating table I really don't want a collegiate surgeon saying "Well, what does everybody think?" I want to hear "Scalpel!"

So best to stop looking for the ideal, the template leader, and instead look for the 'person' who can lead. Get to really know yourself and get to truly understand other people and what makes them tick. Suddenly, whatever your type, it all falls into place. It is about being the best leader you can be, rather than trying to be like someone else which we know, in every circumstance, just doesn't work.

Who wants a template leader anyway?

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