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Understanding Yourself to Become a Better Leader – Balance Sense and Intuition

Part 2 of 4

This is part of a series of posts about understanding yourself and your personality in order to become a better leader.  There are many tools that can be used for personality assessments.  The company I currently work for uses the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).  There are many other personality assessment tools available, but I have found this tool to be pretty accurate for me.  The MBTI is broken up into 4 segments with results placing the participant in one of two categories based on the responses the the questions in the survey.  My results showed that I am an ISTJ.  Getting my results have caused me to do a lot of reflection over the last year and a half on how I can use this information to become a better leader.  I thought I would share my reflection and understanding of the results.

This is part 2 of 4 – Sensing vs. Intuition

Sensing (S) – notice and trust facts, details, and present realities

Intuition (N) – attend to and trust interrelationships, theories, and future possibilities

My reflections have been centered around being an ‘S’.  Some of the sensing tendencies are:

  • Have all the facts before moving on
  • May find it hard to link facts to the bigger picture
  • Seen as matter-of-fact and sensible
  • Find applying ideas more appealing than the ideas themselves
  • Learn best from direct hands-on experience
  • Comfortable with the tried and true because it provides a precedent to follow

I rely on my sensing tendencies quite often.  I have found they come in handy when doing hands on problem solving.  Wanting to dive right in and get hands-on experience but not moving on until all the facts are understood are very good traits for problem solving.  This works very well when you want to lead by example.  Show people the behaviors and actions that you want exhibited in your organization.  But what if you are trying to develop your employees thinking?  This can be a hindrance.  There is coaching to a solution and coaching to a method (credit Jamie Flinchbaugh with that line).  Coaching to a solution is leading the person to the solution that you want.  Coaching to a method means you guide them on a path and let them discover a solution on their own.  both have there time and place.  When coaching to a method, you have to be aware as a leader that you don’t dive and and get into the nuts and bolts of the problem with the person you are coaching.   If you can find a method that allows you to coach to a solution, the good news is with sensing tendencies you will be able to use that method and feel comfortable with it once you have a precedent.

Preferring to apply ideas more than thinking of the ideas themselves can be challenging.  One way to help develop the ability to think about ideas is to spend some time reflecting on what you are working on.  Take a scheduled time out and go where you won’t be disturbed.  Just think.  Doodle ideas down.  It can be difficult but I have time I block out every Friday morning for reflection and I have been able to think of new ideas to try during that time.  Once you have an idea, then it is easy to get excited to go out and try it because that what an ‘S’ loves to do.

One other thing I work on is tying all my work back to the bigger picture.  A tool that I find very useful is a flow tree.  Start with the bigger picture and see how it flows down to my work.  Another great tool for this is strategy deployment (good book on it).  The idea is to start with your 3 year vision and understand what you need to do this year to work towards that vision and then who will do the work this year to get it done.

Sensing has its advantages but can have disadvantages too.  It is hard work practicing to be out of your tendencies but it will pay dividends in your leadership.

Which category are you in?  S?  N?  How does your natural tendency tend to help you as a leader?  Hurt you as a leader?