A year ago, I wrote a broad view of different personality types. Focusing mainly on general terms, specifically introversion and extraversion, I wanted to get into a topic that many people may be familiar with, but don’t know many of the details involved.
This time, I’m going to dive deeper into the different personality tribes and types as they were developed and identified by first Myers Briggs (Katharine Briggs & her daughter Isabel Briggs-Myers), and then Dr. David Keirsey. We’ll explore how our personality type affects each of us in our everyday lives; specifically, from a career aspect.
First, it’s important to understand the differences between the four main tribes. The chart below provides labels for the four main tribes (across), and their individual subsets (down). The names are given by Keirsey, but the main concept of the 16 different types is in league with his predecessors on the subject, Myers Briggs. Their research is taken directly from the studies of Carl Jung, a psychiatrist active through the early 1900s.
Here’s some more information to help understand what we’re about to get into:
- EXTRAVERTED/INTROVERTED(ESTP): as we’ve already seen, this is how someone interacts with the world around them; where they draw their energy from.
- SENSING/INTUITION(INTJ): how someone takes in information. Sensory types are observant of things in their surrounding environment, where iNtuitive types are introspective, using a “sixth sense” or the mind’s eye to draw conclusions.
- THINKING/FEELING(ENFP): Thinkers are “tough-minded”, being more objective and impersonal. Feelers are more friendly, sympathetic and personable with others.
- JUDGING/PERCEIVING(ISTJ): Those who have a Judging side are organized and scheduled. They like things decided. Perceivers are more ambivalent, open to alternatives and other opportunities, willing to probe and explore a while before making a decision.
Let’s also discuss some terms that are key to each of the four types. These terms are skill sets that each type brings to the table in a job or business setting. These are:
- Strategy: strategy is the plan to accomplish a goal. It’s the vision of how the people and/or things will move and act to achieve success.
- Tactics: tactics comprise each of the concrete actions or short-term steps within the strategy to accomplish the goal.
- Logistics: logistics is the coordination of sometimes complex movement of resources – people, equipment, supplies – from point A to point B.
- Diplomacy: simply put, diplomacy is people skills. The first three terms can be put in this order: The strategy is developed, then logistics figures out where and when to put resources in place for each tactical move. However, all of that will be for naught if the team isn’t convinced of the plan, or team members aren’t getting along with each other. Here, diplomacy steps in and makes it happen.
Tactics and Logistics require “real-world” coordination and action, i.e. concrete traits. Strategy and Diplomacy are more intangible skills, i.e. abstract traits. Remember this as we get into the different types, and what their ways of 1) communicating, and 2) getting things done are.
Please note that what follows is a mix of external research, along with my own study and knowledge. Some of it may sound like opinion; to be honest, there’s no set formula for matching a certain type with the best career. People from three different tribes might all be great at sales. It depends on your natural type inclinations, how you’ve been shaped throughout your life so far, and your own personal desires. This article looks at natural type inclinations without including much behavioral bias from external life experiences. I’ll put some links at the end of the article to two different websites I found helpful, that will explain each of the 16 personality types in depth, and what their best career choices are (and which ones aren’t). And, of course, a link to Keirsey’s personality test, or “Temperament Sorter”.
THE SP-TYPE • THE EXPERIENCER, OR “ARTISAN”
Let’s start with the Artisans, these types are SPs, or Sensing Perceivers. They make up about 30% of the general population. In their language, they’re Concrete – direct, specific, they speak (and take things) literally instead of figuratively. In their use of tools, they’re Utilitarians; use whatever means necessary to get the job done. You’ll notice the two characteristics consistent throughout the Artisan types are SP; hence, they are the Experiencers. They love to live life to its fullest.
Artisans aren’t interested in politics and protocol. They aren’t worried about the who or the why; just the what. That may sound harsh, but they are the persuaders, performers, and craftsmen. Some can create amazing works, and others can get what seems to be a complicated task done quickly and simply.
The SPs career skills & choices are wide-ranging, from creating to repairing.
A tactical mindset is their greatest strength, while their weakness is diplomacy. This correlates to the “Concrete Utilitarian” nature of the Artisan. They enjoy the actions in getting something accomplished, who cares what people think. They have an adventurous, fun-loving mentality and are physically capable. While they tend to get impatient and bored easily, they like to get things done. The best careers for an SP, depending on whether they’re outgoing or more introverted, will include a certain amount of service to others while having some amount of risk – for the thrill-seeking nature of the Artisan.
THE SJ-TYPE • THE TRADITIONALIST, OR “GUARDIAN”
The SJ Guardians are the Sensing Judgers. They make up the largest percent of the general population at 45%, and are Concrete Cooperatives. So, like their SP counterparts, they are direct and literal in their language, but believe strongly in taking the time to do things right.
As their nickname of Traditionalist implies, they are more grounded, common-sense types than the SP Artisans. They’re concerned about the effect their actions have on society, how they might affect moral and ethical norms. Whereas the Artisans, as a Utilitarians, are concerned mainly with themselves and getting their goals accomplished as they see fit. Again, not worried about politics or protocol, the who or the why.
The Guardian’s ideal role usually involves a type of authority.
Guardians are naturally logistical; they love coordinating people and other resources. Their lesser suit is strategy – planning for a future overall goal. Both the Guardian and Artisan, Concrete communicators, are into the here and now. They’ll leave the “future thinking” to the Idealists and Rationals. Guardians are best suited for leadership roles, or positions of support…they can be very concerned and caring about others.
Unlike the Artisans, the Guardians do not enjoy risk and thrill-seeking. While the Artisan may take on a role as a police officer for the excitement and adventure of it, the Guardian will take the same role from a position of authority, and doing and reinforcing what’s right – follow the law, obey the rules.
THE NF-TYPE • THE “IDEALIST”
The NF Idealists are the iNtuitive Feelers. They make up a fairly small percent of the general population at around 12%, the second-smallest tribe. They are Abstract Cooperatives. Unlike the Guardians and Artisans before, they are figurative and indirect in their language, enjoying the use of analogies, stories and a large vocabulary. They are like the Guardians as Cooperatives in their tool use, believing in doing what’s right, not just getting results.
They are the diplomats. They know how to talk to people and make them feel comfortable, put them at ease, while tactics are their weakness. Tactics are concrete actions; Idealists are the dreamers. They see what’s possible, they envision the “big picture”, not just what’s in the here-and-now.
Idealists have what I consider “constant core” attributes. For example, look at the NF Idealists’ four different types. They are either extroverted or introverted (all four tribes consist of both extroverts and introverts; it is the one non-constant attribute throughout the tribes). They are also either Judgers or Perceivers. But their constant attributes are at their core; ENFJ, INFJ, ENFP, INFP. The only other tribe with constant core attributes is the NT Rationals, which we’ll get to next.
The “ideal” career for an idealist lies primarily in education and health care, but they can find their niches in business and the arts, too.
Idealists are teachers, counselors…they are advocates and dreamers.
THE NT-TYPE • THE “RATIONAL”
The NT Rationals are the iNtuitive Thinkers. At 10%, they make up the smallest percent of the general population. They are Abstract Utilitarians. So, like their “constant core” partners the NF Idealists, they are figurative and indirect in their language. But as utilitarians, they’re like the SP Artisans in getting things done – just get it done, however it works.
They are the strategists. This is their strength, while logistics is their weakest trait. Their “constant core” attributes are iNtuition and Thinking. These are the masterminds, the inventors, the architects. With the ability to see the big picture, to make a visionary plan, and the diplomatic skills to get others on board with their ideas and carry them out. Think of Doc Brown from Back To the Future. Doc was an ENTP, a true inventor. Einstein, Edison, and Ulysses S. Grant and Abraham Lincoln were all famous NT Rationals.
A Rational’s ideal career has elements of creativity and the ability to take-charge.
Rationals will gravitate toward positions of leadership and power, but not out of “dutiful authority” like the SJ Guardians. It’s because they have the will and knowhow to get things done.
But…don’t just take my word for it! I highly encourage you to strike out on your own. Do some homework, learn more about personality types, and especially, what is YOUR type, if you don’t know yet? The links below will help a lot. And there are tons more resources out there that you can find with just a little noodling around.
- Truity is a site that has a fantastic overview of personality types, and explores different takes, such as Enneagram and Big Five. They also use the DISC assessment, which is specifically for finding the best career path for you. The link below takes you directly to their Myers Briggs-based personality types page, starting with the INFP. You’ll see all 16 types listed across the top, and different categories of information for each – Overview, Strengths, Careers, etc:
- Ball State’s personality page gives a more data-driven overview of each type, using the Myers Briggs types along with Keirsey’s tribe names. Along with career choices, they also offer the best majors to choose based on your type. The link takes you to their MB-based careers and majors page, with all types listed along the left side of the page:
- You can take one of Truity’s personality tests, but I like the tried-and-true Keirsey Temperament Sorter. When you click on the link, you’ll see a large START button circled in yellow, green, blue and red. Click there to start: