The Eight Personality Types

Personality types are psychological classifications of people based on qualitative differences in their attitudes or behaviors.

Understanding personality types

Whilst there is substantial historical evidence of the creation of classification frameworks for human personality, Swedish psychoanalyst Carl Jung is perhaps most associated with personality types in the modern era. 

In his 1921 book Psychological Types, Jung proposed that an individual’s personality type could be characterized by preferences across two criteria and four main functions of consciousness.

Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N) 

The first criterion encompasses the method by which a person perceives information:

  1. Sensing – where one believes the information they receive from the external world, and
  2. Intuition – where one believes information received from an internal or imaginative world.

Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F) 

The second criterion encompasses how a person processes that information:

  1. Thinking – where decisions are made based on logic, and
  2. Feeling – where decisions are made based on emotion.

The functions outlined above are then modified by a third criterion which defines two predominant attitude types:

  • Extraverted (E) – individuals that obtain and direct their energy in the external world, and 
  • Introverted (I) – individuals that obtain and direct their energy in their own internal world.

Jung believed that individuals exhibited a predominant function which, combined with the dominant attitude, characterized one’s consciousness or personality type.

The opposite of the dominant function and attitude was repressed and therefore unconscious.

It is also important to note that each criterion is presented as two pairs of opposites (dichotomies).

Since the dominant function and attitude falls somewhere on a continuum, the individual may exhibit all functions and attitudes depending on the scenario.

Jung’s eight primary personality types

Based on combinations of the four main functions and two main attitude types, Jung developed eight different personality types.

A brief description of each is provided below:

  1. Extraverted thinking – idealistic, rational, objective, principle-based.
  2. Introverted thinking – independent, sometimes afraid of intimacy, easily influenced by ideas. 
  3. Extraverted feeling – adaptive and relates well to their surroundings. 
  4. Introverted feeling – may be needy or dependent, reserved, sympathetic, and seeks to please others.
  5. Extraverted sensation – realistic, friendly, and pleasant.
  6. Introverted sensation – passive, calm, restrained, and may be controlled or controlling.
  7. Extraverted intuition – exuberant, resourceful, and sometimes irresponsible. 
  8. Introverted intuition – mystical, dreamer, artistic, and sometimes obsessive.

Personality types and the Myers-Briggs test

Mother-daughter team Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers released the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in 1943.

The pair were inspired by Jung’s original 1921 book but felt his work was too complex for the general public.

The MBTI added a fourth criterion based on how the individual implements processed information. It is described by the functions:

  • Judging (J) – these individuals are organized and stick to their plans, and
  • Perceiving (P) – these individuals are more likely to improvise and explore alternative courses of action.

Possible combinations of the four dichotomies yield the 16 different personality types most of us are familiar with today.

Each personality type is a 4 letter acronym based on the three dominant functions and one dominant attitude.

For example:

  • INFP – Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving.
  • ESTJ – Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging.

Key takeaways:

  • Personality types are psychological classifications of people based on qualitative differences in their attitudes or behaviors.
  • Swedish psychoanalyst Carl Jung is most associated with personality types in the modern era. Jung believed that an individual’s consciousness or personality type was based on a combination of their dominant attitude and functions.
  • Mother-daughter team Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers added a fourth criterion to Jung’s work in 1943 to make it more accessible to the public. Their model yields 16 different personality types based on unique combinations of the three functions and one attitude.

Connected Leadership Concepts And Frameworks

Leadership Styles

Leadership styles encompass the behavioral qualities of a leader. These qualities are commonly used to direct, motivate, or manage groups of people. Some of the most recognized leadership styles include Autocratic, Democratic, or Laissez-Faire leadership styles.

Agile Leadership

Agile leadership is the embodiment of agile manifesto principles by a manager or management team. Agile leadership impacts two important levels of a business. The structural level defines the roles, responsibilities, and key performance indicators. The behavioral level describes the actions leaders exhibit to others based on agile principles. 

Adaptive Leadership

Adaptive leadership is a model used by leaders to help individuals adapt to complex or rapidly changing environments. Adaptive leadership is defined by three core components (precious or expendable, experimentation and smart risks, disciplined assessment). Growth occurs when an organization discards ineffective ways of operating. Then, active leaders implement new initiatives and monitor their impact.

Blue Ocean Leadership

Authors and strategy experts Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne developed the idea of blue ocean leadership. In the same way that Kim and Mauborgne’s blue ocean strategy enables companies to create uncontested market space, blue ocean leadership allows companies to benefit from unrealized employee talent and potential.

Delegative Leadership

Developed by business consultants Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey in the 1960s, delegative leadership is a leadership style where authority figures empower subordinates to exercise autonomy. For this reason, it is also called laissez-faire leadership. In some cases, this type of leadership can lead to increases in work quality and decision-making. In a few other cases, this type of leadership needs to be balanced out to prevent a lack of direction and cohesiveness of the team.

Distributed Leadership

Distributed leadership is based on the premise that leadership responsibilities and accountability are shared by those with the relevant skills or expertise so that the shared responsibility and accountability of multiple individuals within a workplace, bulds up as a fluid and emergent property (not controlled or held by one individual). Distributed leadership is based on eight hallmarks, or principles: shared responsibility, shared power, synergy, leadership capacity, organizational learning, equitable and ethical climate, democratic and investigative culture, and macro-community engagement.

Ethical Leadership

Ethical leaders adhere to certain values and beliefs irrespective of whether they are in the home or office. In essence, ethical leaders are motivated and guided by the inherent dignity and rights of other people.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leadership is a style of leadership that motivates, encourages, and inspires employees to contribute to company growth. Leadership expert James McGregor Burns first described the concept of transformational leadership in a 1978 book entitled Leadership. Although Burns’ research was focused on political leaders, the term is also applicable for businesses and organizational psychology.

Leading by Example

Those who lead by example let their actions (and not their words) exemplify acceptable forms of behavior or conduct. In a manager-subordinate context, the intention of leading by example is for employees to emulate this behavior or conduct themselves.

Leader vs. Boss

A leader is someone within an organization who possesses the ability to influence and lead others by example. Leaders inspire, support, and encourage those beneath them and work continuously to achieve objectives. A boss is someone within an organization who gives direct orders to subordinates, tends to be autocratic, and prefers to be in control at all times.

Situational Leadership

Situational leadership is based on situational leadership theory. Developed by authors Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard in the late 1960s, the theory’s fundamental belief is that there is no single leadership style that is best for every situation. Situational leadership is based on the belief that no single leadership style is best. In other words, the best style depends on the situation at hand.

Succession Planning

Succession planning is a process that involves the identification and development of future leaders across all levels within a company. In essence, succession planning is a way for businesses to prepare for the future. The process ensures that when a key employee decides to leave, the company has someone else in the pipeline to fill their position.

Fiedler’s Contingency Model

Fielder’s contingency model argues no style of leadership is superior to the rest evaluated against three measures of situational control, including leader-member relations, task structure, and leader power level. In Fiedler’s contingency model, task-oriented leaders perform best in highly favorable and unfavorable circumstances. Relationship-oriented leaders perform best in situations that are moderately favorable but can improve their position by using superior interpersonal skills.

Management vs. Leadership


Cultural Models

In the context of an organization, cultural models are frameworks that define, shape, and influence corporate culture. Cultural models also provide some structure to a corporate culture that tends to be fluid and vulnerable to change. Once upon a time, most businesses utilized a hierarchical culture where various levels of management oversaw subordinates below them. Today, however, there exists a greater diversity in models as leaders realize the top-down approach is outdated in many industries and that success can be found elsewhere.

Action-Centered Leadership

Action-centered leadership defines leadership in the context of three interlocking areas of responsibility and concern. This framework is used by leaders in the management of teams, groups, and organizations. Developed in the 1960s and first published in 1973, action-centered leadership was revolutionary for its time because it believed leaders could learn the skills they needed to manage others effectively. Adair believed that effective leadership was exemplified by three overlapping circles (responsibilities): achieve the task, build and maintain the team, and develop the individual.

High-Performance Coaching

High-performance coaches work with individuals in personal and professional contexts to enable them to reach their full potential. While these sorts of coaches are commonly associated with sports, it should be noted that the act of coaching is a specific type of behavior that is also useful in business and leadership

Forms of Power

When most people are asked to define power, they think about the power a leader possesses as a function of their responsibility for subordinates. Others may think that power comes from the title or position this individual holds. 
Tipping Point Leadership is a low-cost means of achieving a strategic shift in an organization by focusing on extremes. Here, the extremes may refer to small groups of people, acts, and activities that exert a disproportionate influence over business performance.

Vroom-Yetton Decision Model

The Vroom-Yetton decision model is a decision-making process based on situational leadership. According to this model, there are five decision-making styles guides group-based decision-making according to the situation at hand and the level of involvement of subordinates: Autocratic Type 1 (AI), Autocratic Type 2 (AII), Consultative Type 1 (CI), Consultative Type 2 (CII), Group-based Type 2 (GII).

Likert’s Management Systems

Likert’s management systems were developed by American social psychologist Rensis Likert. Likert’s management systems are a series of leadership theories based on the study of various organizational dynamics and characteristics. Likert proposed four systems of management, which can also be thought of as leadership styles: Exploitative authoritative, Benevolent authoritative, Consultative, Participative.

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