Monday, December 3, 2012

Leaders in Military and Business the Same?

Did you know?

  • That of the 16 different personality types identified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® or MBTI® over 45% of Army Reserve leaders reported type was either ISTJ or ESTJ (xSTJ) compared to 24% for the national sample*. 
  • Male Army Reserve Leaders selected xSTJ 47% of the time and female Army Reserve Leaders 37% of the time**.
  • In the national representative sample, male small business leaders selected xSTJ 49% and female small business owners identified with one of these two types 37% of the time according to the national representative sample. 

On The other hand...

  • The least represented personality types in Army Reserve leadership are ISFP and ESFP (xSFP) with only 2.3% compared to the nation representative sample of almost 18% published in 1998 in the MBTI manual. (That number changed to 3.4% in the MBTI manual supplement published in 2009)
  • Male Army Reserve leaders are at 2.0% and Females Army Reserve leaders at almost 2.8%
  • Male and female small business owners in the national representative sample reported xSFP at 4.3% and 4.9% respectively

Before I retired from the Army at the end of 2006 I was fortunate enough to end my career as the chief of leadership training for the Army Reserve Readiness Training Command.  From this position and as the chief instructor for the battalion and brigade pre-command course I had the privilege to bring personality type to senior leaders of the Army Reserve.  Now that I am retired and working with business leaders I looked back and discovered this similarity.  It really should not have surprised me since what makes these leaders successful in the Army Reserve also makes them successful in their civilian jobs also. 

ISTJ and ESTJ share their dominant and auxiliary function - archetypes (FA) - extraverted Thinking (Te) and introverted Sensing (Si).  I call these two FA's the military functions.  This is nothing more than my name for them based on my experiences.  Let me explain.  Introverted Sensing (Si)  is all about knowing where they have been and looking at missions knowing what has worked before as they develop their current plans.  This is especially important and is the reason why there is an after action report after every mission.  It also explains why so many military leaders seem to know history well.  It is also well documented that commanders that fail often fail because they do not remember their history of the area, or the enemy unit or maybe even their own failures in the past.  Likewise positive mission results often come by understanding what has worked well in the past. 

Extraverted Thinking (Te) to the military leader is all about making a logical decision justified by defensible facts.  Mission planning (especially for the Army leader) includes the use of the 5 paragraph operations order, and the military decision making process.  Well developed tools for ensuring logical decisions are made.  Although Te is considered not very flexible, (This is the function that many people refer to when they discuss the "J" in the type code as not being very flexible.  And yet the Army leader through these tools develops additional plans called "Branches and sequels".  Again based on past experience, the current situation and knowledge of the enemy, the Army planners and leaders create branches off the primary plan to deal with as many possibilities as they can work out.  Sequels deal with changes due to completion of the current mission and movement to a new mission.  This is the planned flexibility built into operations orders that is different than the unplanned flexibility often exemplified by those with a preference for perceiving functions, the "P" at the end of the type code. 

I see much of the same type of planning in business plans and business leaders.  Logical decisions made after evaluating facts and past experiences, using the strengths of Te and Si.  While the tools in business may be different than those in the Army both worlds are designed to win with minimal loss of assets. 
The significance of the least representative type codes as shown above as well as the other codes is the value brought to a fairly biased community of leaders.    I will talk more about this in my next post.  Thanks for reading. 

* Briggs-Myers, I., McCaulley, M.H., Quenk, N.L., & Hammer, A.L. (2003).

MBTI manual: A guide to the development and use of the Myers-Briggs type indicator (3rd ed.). Palo Alto, California: CPP, Inc.
**Cerney, K. (2008). Unpublished data collected from several leadership classes between 2004 and 2008, US Army Reserve Readiness Training Command, Fort McCoy, WI