This Personality Type Is Common Among Leaders — But It Can Also Be Their Downfall
We all know what it's like to interact with someone who's a natural leader: They're confident, charismatic, and often excellent problem solvers, and they almost always step up to take charge of any situation.
According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a personality assessment that groups people into one of 16 personalities, that collection of assertive and commanding traits form what's known as the ENTJ personality type. Sometimes referred to as "The Commander," ENTJs are known for being the leaders of the world—but they also have a specific set of shortcomings.
Where the "natural leader" personality type falls short.
ENTJ stands for extroverted, intuitive, thinking, and judging. As John Hackston, head of thought leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company, previously told mbg, this personality type makes up just 1.8% of the population, and they're more likely to be men. Gordon Ramsay is a great example of an ENTJ to paint a picture of this type: He's a natural leader in his field, but his reputation for insensitivity precedes him.
In MBTI typology, the ENTJ's confidence is known to border on arrogance, says Hackston, and despite their charisma, they're also known to be stubborn, critical, overly dominant, and impatient. "They may not consider other opinions or points of view while making decisions and looking for solutions, and in a conflict situation, they will likely try to find a quick solution and can disregard what others feel while they focus on a resolution," he explains.
It's also not uncommon for these folks to become frustrated and impatient with others and "will likely question illogical decisions in the workplace," he adds.
Why leaders can lose access to their sensitivity.
According to clinical psychologist Perpetua Neo, DClinPsy, there's a reason why people who are dubbed "natural leaders" might have a tendency toward insensitivity.
"Some natural leaders have a single-minded focus on goals and on the big picture, so that comes with sacrifices on the things they have to give up in their life," she explains to mbg, adding that it's not a matter of being narrow-minded but rather reaching goals at all costs.
They may be personally willing to give up a lot and push themselves through fear with the help of their own adrenaline, she says—and so they wind up having a hard time understanding why others can't "buck up," too.
"This kind of determination and tenacity has become a well-practiced muscle, so in terms of neuroscience, it's like a very well-practiced groove in your head, and it's hard to see that others may have different needs in terms of sensitivity, of psychological safety—and it becomes easier to just dismiss what's unknown or what's different," she says.
She adds that lack of sensitivity to others may stem from lack of connection to one's own senses: "You are completely disconnected from what's going on inside you and the parameters that life is showing you—your body's showing you—so of course you don't understand what sensitivity is."
One could argue that the ENTJ's tenacity is how they're so often able to succeed—but that success can come at a cost if you're disregarding everyone around you. As Hackston explains, this personality type would benefit from considering how plans, decisions, and feedback may affect other people, "instead of solely relying on a logical or even critical approach to situations."
Thinking about how you can be more sensitive to others would benefit your relationships, both at home, in the office, and out in the world. To Neo's point about pushing through your own emotions and not considering the emotions of others, ENTJs and anyone who identifies with the "natural leader" label can benefit from learning how to sit with their emotions as well as cultivating compassion for others.
"Practice shifting your perspective away from exclusively thinking about how something affects you. This doesn't mean selling yourself out in order to be nice to someone else—that's not self-compassion! But it does mean expanding your awareness to make room for the interconnectedness that unites us all," physician Lissa Rankin, M.D., previously wrote for mbg.
Hackston also adds that if you feel stressed because someone is questioning your authority or your decisions, "make a pause to listen to what people are trying to convey—maybe their ideas could result in a better solution." And if you find yourself getting impatient, he says to remember that sometimes people need time to pause and think before reaching a conclusion or offering a solution.
Some people are simply natural leaders, taking the world by storm with their intense drive, motivation, and energy. But the ENTJ personality can also leave a trail of hurt feelings in their wake. While it may not come naturally to them, this personality type can improve their relations to others by focusing a bit less on pressing a solution, and a bit more on cooperation, patience, and compassion—for others and themselves.