Deidre has a Masters in applied linguistics and translation for her 20 years overseas, then she worked as a certified provider of the MBTI®.
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
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on November 12, 2012:
Kimberly, it is not so much an 'uh-oh' when we are aware of our particular challenges as supervisors :). Good for you for being aware of what of your personality traits do not fit well as a supervisor and your efforts to work on those of particular challenge as much as you can.
Kimberly Vaughn from Midwest on November 11, 2012:
Uh oh! I am an INTJ and a Supervisor! Some of your insights are spot on for me and others are not. But, I recognize my INTJness and work hard to overcome some of its weaknesses. I particularly work on the socialskill aspects of working with others.
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on April 08, 2012:
The description is so accurate because the Myers-Briggs personality types are very accurate in describing the mental functions behind human behavior. Appreciate, "Name", your further confirmation of this!
Name on April 07, 2012:
ENTP here and I must say, pitch perfect description.
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on February 01, 2012:
LA, yes it is dangerous to what I would call *misuse* personality types to make personnel decisions. This is why someone trained in its use is a must input for those making the decisions. See my article "Team Builders Develop Business Teams by Consistent MBTI Coaching" for understanding what I am talking about. Building balanced teams like you mentioned is the key, so we can cover for each other's blind spots. I have another article about those blind spots "Effective Team Building Requires Managing MBTI Personality Weaknesses." These can be found from my profile page, clicking on my photo above, and on the link, Business management and leadership. Appreciate your comment!
LA on February 01, 2012:
I actually think it's dangerous to use personality types to make personnel decisions. Every type has its pros and cons, and the goal, if any, should be to have different types present on each teams. This way the "types" can keep each other in check and help avoid the worst of each other's blind sides. There is nothing worse than an organization dominated by a single personality type! Incidentally, the overuse of personality tests in some large companies to make promotional decisions actaully led some of my friends to cheat on those personality tests.
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on September 27, 2011:
Hi My Esoteric! ESTJs are born administrators/supervisors :). To me that would be the better choice--based just on considering the personality type :). ESFJs lean more towards being a provider for the welfare of others. Neat to hear your example of how the MBTI helped in your matching someone to a good job fit.
Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on September 27, 2011:
FYI, the MBTI made the difference in my selection for my companies Director of Accounting. My partners and I were split between two candidates but leaning slightly toward one. Then the results of the MBTI came in and we switched our choice and chose the ESTJ over the ESFJ; we need a supervisor or at least one who appears oriented that way.
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on September 22, 2011:
inaniLoquence, I would stick with Myers-Briggs Type Indicator instruments. It is a VERY widely used, research, and validated instrument.
inaniLoquence from Singapore on September 22, 2011:
Ms Dee, are the photo-based (choose a photo among an array of different options) personality tests credible? Should I trust them or just stick with Briggs?
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on September 22, 2011:
inaniLoquence, I have found that the Myers-Briggs Step II is very helpful for my clients. It breaks down each of the four letter designations into five sub categories. For example, both you and I have the "J" designation in our personality type designation. However, the Step II results for me show that in one of the five sub categories I am *not* a J, but the opposite ("P"). I do not like to be meticulous. I recommend looking into taking the MBTI Step II inventory, since you have already done it once (the MBTI Step I.)
inaniLoquence from Singapore on September 21, 2011:
I tried this test before and I came out as an INTJ. :) I shall try to take the test again and see if something has changed...
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on July 09, 2011:
Thank you for your read, stars! Yes, there are. Actually, we all have our rough spots when under stress. This hub explains in part how this NT personality type behaves when stressed and in the boss position :).
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on May 15, 2011:
This sounds very interesting, indeed, My Esoteric. I like hearing part of your story :). It is likely that the INFJ leader helped draw out your potential, I'm thinking. Great to hear!
Scott Belford from Keystone Heights, FL on May 15, 2011:
Great Hub, Ms Dee. I picked this one first to read because, as you now know, I am an NT, when it comes to the job; although not a strong T (I, N, and P are fire-walled, however.) When it comes to personal issues though, I end up a weak F.
As you would guess, I made a terrible manager, twice. I did, however, make a reasonable cost analyst. Along with that and an old degree in computer science and, most importantly, with the help of a very good, INFJ contractor team leader, I was able, as a program manager, to bring to near completion (retired before I was done)a cost decision support system that was unique to the Air Force and filled a need long missing from my original field.
Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on November 21, 2010:
Oh, just wondering. I had one who thought the Devil Wears Prada was the way to treat the help. Very bully. Curious. Love your Hub by the way.
Christine Mulberry on October 20, 2010:
Enlightening. I'm sure anyone who has held a few jobs has encountered some of these "types".
Deidre Shelden (author) from Texas, USA on October 07, 2010:
LOL! Thanks for your response Gus, and for trying to follow it :) Good to get your confirmation of nutty-boss experience! N = iNtuition and T = Thinking in the Myers-Briggs personality type terminology. These are two of the four mental functions identified by that method. To find the definitions of these and all four of the mental functions, you may click on the SECOND link in this hub, "ENTP". Also, you may find this introduction page helpful: http://www.personalitypathways.com/MBTI_intro.html
Let me know if you'd like any further info or dialogue on this :)
Gustave Kilthau from USA on October 07, 2010:
Miss D - You kinda lost me somewhere in there because I am not smart enough to know what "NT" may mean. I clicked over to Patty Inglish's hub for a better explanation, but it was even more confusion for me. All I know is that I have had more than my share of nutty bosses. Maybe that abbreviation should be "NB" instead of "NT"...