Crenshaw Associates grounds each program in data-based insights gained from our 35+ years of working with senior executives. Each Crenshaw client undergoes a proprietary assessment process that’s intended to provide insights into their cognitive and personality traits.
Understanding the MBTI
One part of Crenshaw’s broad assessment is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), one of the most widely used leadership profile tools. The four letters that comprise the profile reflect a person’s preferences for giving or getting energy (introversion/extroversion), data gathering (sensing/intuition), decision making (thinking/feeling) and organizing their environment/themselves in the world (judging/perceiving).
MBTI assesses the actions taken by all people as well as the things that people look to leaders to provide categorically and/or directionally. Every profile has a pattern inherent in the preferences/traits that helps identify how a person might view the world, react to situations, explore options and make decisions.
When I examined a random sample of 31 MBTI profiles of Crenshaw CEO clients drawn from our database, I observed two things:
- The majority of leaders populate the outer rows and columns of the table. They’re considered “defenders” and “protectors.”
- All MBTI personality types are capable of being leaders.
Analyzing the Data
My analysis of these 31 CEO profiles resulted in the following caveat: Although most CEOs fall into one of the four corners of this table, that’s not a necessary requirement of all people with this title. MBTI is a useful tool, but not a definitive factor when it comes to predicting who might be an effective CEO.
A number of the profiles in the sample scored strongly in thinking (T) and judging (J). In fact, 23 of the 31 CEOs (74%) have MBTI types that are considered “defenders” or “protectors” – classic CEO profiles. These are people who prefer to make objective, fact-based decisions and those are, coincidentally, qualities that are frequently rewarded, sought after, and resident at the executive level.
Despite what we see in this table, it’s important to note that everybody has the potential to lead. What determines whether someone becomes an effective CEO? The deciding factor has far less to do with personality and far more to do with how the personality fits into the company’s unique culture.