The "Insane Boss" NT Personality Type in Employee Management
The Insane Boss can be quite the visionary, but they can also seem like they should be diagnosed as clinically insane (completely nuts). You may wonder how to deal with a visionary boss who turns into a bad boss. They are managers who are the "NT" personality type —those who favor the iNuition and Thinking preferences as described by the Myers-Briggs® concepts of personality type.
The Four NT Types
Here are the four NT personality types listed in the order they are represented in senior management:
These NT personality types make up one of the four temperaments of the sixteen personality types. The jobs held by personalities of this particular NT temperament are built on two things:
The NTs tend to do whatever it takes to achieve the organization's goals—even if that means going past you, around you . . . or over you!
The People Who Aim for the Mountaintop
I call NTs 'insane' because of their determination to make it to the goal, to get the gold treasure. Organizations generally love NTs as they groove to power and competency. They find the treasure map, gather the crew, and take command as the captain of the ship sailing through calm or stormy seas to Treasure Island.
Why wouldn't any organization put them way at the top of the organization chart? They'll accomplish the goals and bring in the gold.
Working for the NT
The NT boss likes loyalty very much and workers who wouldn't dare mutiny. They expect you to eat hardtack and brackish water today, but claim it will be lobster and rum on the morrow. They will get rid of all the incompetent idiots and use their power to sock the competition right in the mouth!
Progress of NTs in the organization is often phenomenal because they tend to have a huge picture or see a mountaintop panorama of where the organization should head. Rather than, like some, seeing the individual milestones along the way, the NTs can get really good at looking ahead around the corner, reading the tea leaves of the changing times. They can quickly chart a path through sales, service, market share, branding, and finance on a relentless sprint to the top.
But There's a Problem
NT managers can see well on the mountaintop at 50,000 feet but be legally blind at ground zero. They can captain a ship—drive the crew to hoist sail and weigh anchor—but following each step on the map to find the island with the gold treasure and dig up the booty gets daunting for the NT. They usually need you to do the digging once the ship has reached the island!
Working Under NT Leadership
When you're working for the NT, they wait for you to naturally follow behind them and fill in the blanks. When you press the NT for the details needed to do this, they can be quite condescending. NTs may not follow the sequential details, and if you can't fill them in for him or her, they'll immediately conclude (and point out) "You just don't get it!"
NTs have the gift to achieve organizational goals. The NTs' followers, however, tend to feel more like hostages than part of an empowered team. NTs would personally take an enemy bullet in the chest to get to Treasure Island, so what's with these laggards who are worrying about spouses and children, not thinking it is worthy of death to get there?
Organizations that aren't particularly loyal to the team may then suddenly, seemingly without explanation, make certain crew members walk the plank of layoff. It is hard to buy into the "worthy of death" ethic of the NT leader when the organization actually may not care if you make it to Treasure Island and share in the booty.
The Challenges of Each Type of NT Boss
Here are the special challenges of each of the iNtuitive-Thinking types as bosses.
Maybe the most gifted senior executives of all, but potentially the most nutty. There are more CEOs among ENTJs than among any other personality type. They are goal-driven, competitive and when they run into obstacles are not prone to give up. They can understand the team assignment and work collaboratively, but will use team members as tools, not seeing them as people.
The ENTJs have both great success and great failure rates in organizations. Often, they are either leading the organization or cleaning its toilets. The threat to ENTJs is that they can overuse their gifts, overplaying their hand to the point of that they become a liability. They get caught in power struggles with others and end up losing out in the end.
The question often is, "Will this ENTJ be in their position a year from now?" They will not respect or value others' opinions, so it's important to tell them when they are out of line. ENTJs are rarely thin-skinned and are open to being confronted because they do want to be able to compete better. They are Thinking all the time about some issue, with intensity that can at times seem freaky. They are struggling to connect with the "ah-ha" of their iNtuition and hit on an answer. Meanwhile, they may not be able to focus on the current, present issue. The worst thing to do is to push the ENTJ boss to lower their bar, for they will see it as an obstruction to reaching the goal, honestly forgetting people are more important.
ENTP bosses are at their best when storms and enemy threaten a battle. They excel in communication and are often newscasters and commentators, also having often impressive mechanic and technological abilities. ENTPs do well leading change as excellent entrepreneurs and start-up leaders.
The ENTP leader can be one of the most confusing and difficult bosses to follow. While the are affable and engaging, you never know what they'll do or be thinking next. Leading with their iNtuition, they rise to the challenge of major problems and throw their verbal and technical skills at it, firing all guns at once. When there are no problems to challenge their inspiration, they fall into a slump of no motivation.
Open debates can keep the ENTP boss happily occupied, though others may consider them contentious, and when they switch sides in a nanosecond give you mental whiplash. While brilliant in crisis management and problem solving, they generally withhold compliments and you tend to feel in competition with them. Getting them to focus on what you think is important is not an easy job, especially if it is not something they see as a crisis worthy of their attention.
INTJs never intended to be bosses in the first place, so they can tend to be difficult. Lovers of technology, mechanical or process models they are not lovers of people. People are a means, or an obstruction, to an outcome.
They are the brainy MBTI® type, but will still have a special circle of family and friends for discussing concepts and ideas. However, INTJs can be famously disconnected bosses and managers because they lack a sense of group process, while at the same time may tend to wonder why people are so unfriendly.
The goal of an INTJ in communication is brevity -- the shortest communication is the best. Relationships tend to be very much on their terms, and they are not hugely confrontational. The more the INTJ considers you his or her intellectual peer, the better your relationship. Living in their own bubble, if you do your job, they are usually amicable.
The least frequent NT type in management, INTPs are most successful as managers when in an industry like security or inspection. They are relentless in finding flaws or spotting something that is wrong. INTPs are prone to see the detail that will keep a plan from working or the fatal flaw that could be the deal-breaker.
Therefore, they can be tough to manage. Though they're extremely smart, they can often get marginalized as naysayers.
What INTPs see should be listened to, but if you don't like a boss who makes anal retentive an art form, you're in the wrong place working for him or her. INTPs are one of the most introspective of all the personality types, and they are the type most attuned to their own weaknesses and challenges. As such, they are working on themselves every day.
The "NT" Challenge
More often than not, if the NT boss is going to have a problem, it is going to be the negative reaction of their team to NT tactics. Their team won't always see the path to get to Treasure Island through the same set of binoculars.
At this point, we need the other MBTI® types—STs, NFs and SFs—to keep the NTs in check on a balanced path of success that is sustainable, and doesn't fall suspect. The NTs can easily grasp the big picture up ahead, and when kept on a reasonable trajectory can enable the organization to achieve its goals and "bring in the gold."
How to Be a Great Boss
- Leadership and Type
CAPT handout that summarizes the characteristic leadership styles of each of the 16 MBTI personality types including blind spots.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2010 Deidre Shelden