Personality Type in Career Choice: Case Studies

Personality Type in Career Choice: Case Studies

In this week’s podcast, I talk about the role of personality type in career choice. I use the framework of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), of which I am a Master Practitioner.

The MBTI is the world’s most widely used personality assessment. It is a psychological tool designed to reveal your personality preferences…the ones you were born with.

Based on your responses, the MBTI assigns one of 16 personality types to you. Much research has been done around the link between personality type and career choice.

Here are a few personality types and the careers best suited to them:

ESFP: Realistic Adapters in Human Relationships

ESFPs are at their best when free to act on impulses. They value:

  • An energetic, sociable life, full of friends and fun
  • Immediately useful skills; practical know-how
  • Learning through spontaneous, hands-on action
  • Trust and generosity; openness
  • Concrete, practical knowledge; resourcefulness
  • Caring, kindness, support, appreciation
  • Freedom from irrelevant rules
  • Handling immediate, practical problems and crises
  • Seeing tangible realities; least-effort solutions
  • Showing and receiving appreciation
  • Making the most of the moment; adaptability
  • Being caught up in enthusiasm

ESFPs want work that has practical value; as much work flexibility as possible, and a collaborative work environment.

What careers do ESFPs often pursue? Here are a few:

Sales Representative


Social Worker




INTJ: Logical, Critical Innovators of Ideas

INTJs are at their best when inspiration turns insights into ideas and plans. They value:

  • A restrained, organized outer life
  • A spontaneous, intuitive inner life
  • Planful, independent, academic learning
  • Skepticism; critical analysis; objective principles
  • Originality, independence of mind
  • Unemotional tough-mindedness
  • Freedom from interference in projects
  • Working to a plan and schedule
  • Seeing complexities, hidden meanings
  • Improving things by finding flaws
  • Probing new possibilities; taking the long view
  • Pursuing a vision; foresight; conceptualizing

 INTJs prefer a work environment that involves complex ideas and concepts and allows them to develop creative, innovative solutions. They are all about possibilities and originality.

What careers do INTJS often pursue? Here are a few:



Medical Doctor

Business Administrator


ENTP: Inventive, Analytical Planners of Change

ENTPs are at their best when caught up in enthusiasm for a new project. They value:

  • Conceiving of new things and initiating change
  • The surge of inspiration; emerging possibilities
  • Analyzing complexities
  • Following their insights, wherever they lead
  • Finding meaning behind the facts
  • Autonomy; elbow room; openness
  • Ingenuity, originality, a fresh perspective
  • Mental models and concepts that explain life
  • Fair treatment
  • Flexibility, adaptability
  • Improvising; looking for novel ways
  • Exploring theories and meanings behind events

ENTPs seek work that utilizes their creativity and originality in a flexible work environment; work that allows them to dig for deeper meaning, insights, and possibilities.

What careers do ENTPs often pursue? Here are a few:




Marketing Representative

Systems Analyst

I encourage you to go through these lists and make sense of the connection between the characteristics of each personality type and the careers often pursued.

If you’re interested in learning about your personality type, I encourage you to work with a qualified practitioner or a Master Practitioner like myself. Otherwise, you’re taking an assessment online with no one to interpret your results for you.

To listen to this week’s podcast, “Using Personality Information in your Career Choice,” click here:

052: Using Personality Information in your Career Choice


052: Using Personality Information in your Career Choice

The Role of Personality in Career Decisions

This month, I’m talking about using critical information about yourself in your career choice. Last week, I talked about Motivated Skills; this week I want to talk about personality.

I am a Master Practitioner of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the world’s most widely used personality assessment. It is a psychological tool designed to reveal your personality preferences…the ones you were born with.

Here’s the analogy I use with my clients: I have them write their name. Whether they use their right hand as most people do or their left hand (like me), we identify that the hand they wrote their name with is their preferred hand.

That hand is their innate preference.

Next, I have them write their name with their non-preferred hand. We talk about the fact that it was a much more conscious task with that hand…and that the results weren’t nearly as good.

The next step is to have them imagine their preferred arm is broken and it’s in a cast for six months. During that time, they are forced to write exclusively with their non-preferred hand.

They will no doubt get better at using that hand during those six months, right?

I then have them imagine that a co-worker exclaims, “Oh my gosh…your arm is broken! Is that the arm you write with?”

Of course, their answer is “Yes!” Even though they are using their non-preferred hand exclusively, it doesn’t change the fact that that isn’t their preferred hand.

And, as soon as that cast comes off, they are back to their preferred hand.

The MBTI identifies your innate preferences…the way you prefer to handle a situation or task if given the option.

What’s the Flip Side?

Here’s the thing: All of us must access the non-preferred side of our personality on a daily basis.

The Introvert who has to go to a two-day team building event with coworkers and finds it incredibly draining.

The Perceiver whose boss expects her to stick to a tight schedule.

The Thinker whose coworker comes to him very emotional, with a personal problem.

The Intuitive whose project assignment requires her to complete her tasks in a very sequential manner.

What Does This Have to Do With Career Choice?

Career choice, and the role of your personality in that choice, is a macro- and micro-level decision.

On a macro level, you are choosing a career field that meshes with your personality.

On a micro level, you are evaluating job opportunities based on those same criteria. Because sometimes what holds true for the career as a whole doesn’t hold true for a specific position.

Here’s an example: I once worked with a YMCA Assistant Director who was underperforming at work. Turned out (much to everyone’s surprise) that he was an Extravert. You would think a job at the YMCA – specifically organizing the recreational sporting events for children – would be a great fit for an Extravert. And you would be right.

However, at this YMCA the Assistant Director’s office was at the end of a dark hallway – isolated from the patrons coming in and out, and from the other employees. He hated that aspect of his job.

So what are the preference pairs measured by the MBTI?


This pair has to do with where you get your energy. Extraverts get their energy from the people and activities going on around them; Introverts get their energy from being by themselves.

Extraverts are generally comfortable meeting, and speaking with, strangers; Introverts would rather not approach strangers and find it difficult to start a conversation with someone they don’t know.

Extraverts tend to be “open books,” meaning they freely share what they are thinking with those around them. Introverts are much more closed about what they share until they know someone well and feel they can trust them.


This pair has to do with how you prefer to take in information. Sensers take in information by way of the 5 senses – sight, taste, touch, hearing, and smell. Intuitives take in information by way of their sixth sense – their intuition.

Sensers prefer to deal with concrete information that has practical value; Intuitives prefer to deal with abstract ideas and concepts that involve creativity and imagination.

Sensers tend to trust what has worked in the past and aren’t likely to want to make changes to something if it’s working. Intuitives want new and different and will make changes to things even if they are working.


The Thinking-Feeling pair addresses your preference for making decisions. Thinkers make decisions using cool, impersonal logic – they make their decisions with their head. Feelers make decisions using sympathy and values – they make their decisions with their heart.

Thinkers tend to stick to established rules and regulations – treating everyone fairly by treating everyone the same. Feelers tend to consider the circumstances – treating everyone fairly by treating everyone differently.

Thinkers will be brutally honest in evaluating work performance and can come across as harsh because they are telling you the unvarnished truth. Feelers will consider your feelings in giving you feedback; while the interaction may be more pleasant, you may not be given the information you need to improve.


Judging-Perceiving addresses how you organize your life. Judgers love planners, calendars, and systems that create a superstructure of organization in their lives. Perceivers want the freedom to do what they feel like doing at any given time.

Judgers avoid the pressure of last-minute work, whereas Perceivers do their best work at the last minute.

Judgers want structure in their work and prefer jobs with schedules they can control. Perceivers like jobs that are unstructured, and they are at their best when responding to emergencies or changes in plan.

Why Does This Matter?

A lot of research has gone into career fields most frequently chosen by different personality types. I want to lay out just a couple of examples for you:

ENFJ (Extraverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Judging)

When you combine the four letters of your preference, you get a four-letter code that says volumes about your preferences.

Here’s a brief description of an ENFJ:

Imaginative HARMONIZERS; at their best when winning people’s cooperation with insight into their needs. They value:

  • Having a wide circle of relationships
  • Having a positive, enthusiastic view of life
  • Seeing subtleties in people and interactions
  • Understanding others’ needs and concerns
  • An active, energizing social life
  • Seeing possibilities in people
  • Follow-through on important projects
  • Working on several projects at once
  • Caring and imaginative problem solving
  • Maintaining relationships to make things work
  • Shaping organizations to better serve members
  • Caring, compassion, and tactfulness

What careers do you think ENFJs most frequently go into? Fields that involve helping others achieve their goals – looking toward the future to become what they want to become. Using their creativity is essential to ENFJ’s job satisfaction.

-Public Relations Manager

-Social Worker

-Career Counselor


-High School Teacher

-Human Resources Manager

-Advertising Manager

-Marriage & Family Therapist


ISTP (Introverted-Sensing-Thinking-Perceiving)

Here’s a brief description of ISTP:

Practical ANALYZERS; at their best when analyzing experience to find logic and underlying properties. They value:

  • A reserved outer life
  • Having a concrete, present-day view of life
  • Clear, exact facts
  • Looking for efficient, least-effort solutions
  • Knowing how mechanical things work
  • Pursuing interests in depth
  • Freedom from organizational constraints
  • Independence and self-management
  • Spontaneous hands-on learning
  • Having useful technical expertise
  • Critical analysis as a means to improve things
  • Solving problems with detached, sequential analysis

What fields do ISTPs pursue? Those that allow for freedom…of schedule, or daily work…or the setting in which the work is done. Variety is very important to ISTPs. They also like work that is hands-on and practical.

-Building Inspector



-Athletic Trainer

-Financial Manager

-Software Developer

-Mechanical Engineer

-Police Officer

Using personality information in your career choice allows you to align your preferences with your work. Think of my analogy: if you don’t do this, it will be like writing all day, every day, with your non-preferred hand. It will be tiring, less fulfilling…and you won’t excel to the degree you could.

A note about taking the MBTI: There are lots of online “knock offs” of the assessment. If you want to take the actual MBTI, I recommend doing so with a qualified professional who will interpret your results with you. Otherwise, you won’t know what to make of the information contained in your results. The MBTI is a psychological assessment, and as such, and only be administered and interpreted by a qualified professional or Master Practitioner like myself.


Unraveling Personality Differences at Work

This week’s podcast is an interview with Becky Cutright, Communications Consultant with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

She shares the top five things she wishes someone would have told her as she was starting her career.

Today, I want to hone in on one of those points – you are going to encounter “difficult” personalities at work. It is inevitable.

I want to frame this with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the world’s most widely used personality inventory. I am a Master Practitioner of the MBTI.

Using the four preference pairs of the MBTI, here are some personality challenges you may face in the workplace:

  1. Extraversion vs. Introversion

Let’s say you’re an extravert, which means you get your energy from the people and activities going on around you.

Your introverted counterpart gets her energy from being alone with her thoughts.

Working with an introvert may mean you do most of the talking. It may also mean you’re aren’t exactly welcome when you decide to pop into her office for a quick chat.

You are likely to speak about ideas you’ve just come up with, whereas your introverted counterpart is likely to only speak of well-formed ideas she’s given considerable thought to.

The Challenge: Not over-stimulating your Introverted counterpart with meetings and business that will leave her drained and not giving her best effort.

The Solution: If you’re in a position to plan, or give input into, the project schedule, try not to plan full days of back-to-back meetings. If it’s just the two of you, don’t expect her to want to go to lunch with you or out for drinks after work when you’ve spent the entire day together.

2. Sensing vs. Intuition

Let’s say you are a Sensor, meaning that you prefer to work with concrete, practical data that is grounded in the here and now. Your Intuitive counterpart prefers to work with abstract ideas and possibilities, and loves to think about the future.

As a Sensor, you require a lot of information at the start of a project, and you proceed through the project in a sequential fashion.

Your intuitive counterpart needs only the big picture to get started on the project, and may prefer to jump around as he completes the project. He also loves to work on abstract projects that involve creativity and ideas.

The Challenge: You like details; your counterpart likes the big picture. You like to work in the here and now on practical matters; your counterpart likes to think creatively and may come up with impractical solutions.

The Solution: There’s a place for both of you on a project, and recognizing your Intuitive counterpart’s preference is critical. Bogging him down with too much information will not only leave him depleted, he literally won’t be able to process the information. Give him the idea-generation part of the project (or at least let him take the lead), while you attend to the details.

3. Thinking vs. Feeling

Let’s say you have a preference for Thinking, which means you make your decisions based on facts and figures. Your Feeling counterpart makes her decisions based on her heart, using subjectivity and values.

In a project, you may come across as brusque and even confrontational, as you ask tough questions to help you make your decisions. Your Feeling counterpart wants the team to get along and will do everything she can to build camaraderie and cohesion.

The Challenge: Allowing space for your Feeling counterpart to build a sense of team spirit so that she gives her best effort.

The Solution: Open up on a personal level to your Feeling counterpart…let her into your life so she feels a personal connection to you. It will pay off in spades. Oh, and understand that she will probably take your brusqueness personally…can you soften your edges just a bit?

4. Judging vs. Perceiving

Let’s say you prefer Judging, which means you structure your life. You like order, plan well in advance, and prefer to put forth a steady stream of effort in completing projects.

Your Perceiving counterpart likes to maintain spontaneity and flexibility, and does his best work at the last minute.

The Challenge: You want to complete the project well in advance of the deadline; your Perceiving counterpart wants to do his work at the 11th hour.

The Solution: Give your Perceiver the latitude to work in a way that allows him to do his best work, while also honoring your needs. For example, can you give a “false” deadline that then gives you the time you need to do your part after your counterpart has finished?

“Difficult” personalities at work really boil down to differences. And different is good…if you can embrace those differences and capitalize on each team member’s unique preferences.

Interested in a deep dive with me? Register for my next webinar. In addition to great content, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions and even get coached by me live! Here’s the link to find out about this month’s topic, date, and time: click here

To listen to this week’s podcast:

037: The Work Stuff No One Ever Tells You


What’s Your Leadership Personality?

Leadership by Personality, using MBTI personality types

I had the privilege of conducting training for a delightful team last week. They served the Latin American market of their global beverage company.

Didn’t hurt that the meeting was at Disney World.

We used the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to facilitate team-building, open the lines of communication, and create cohesion.

We also talked about the leadership strengths – and weaknesses – of each personality type.

Point #1: Everyone has the capacity to be a leader.

Point #2: How that leadership manifests itself will vary widely depending on the leader’s personality type.

Point #3: A leader’s time is best spent focusing on his/her strengths, while minimizing the impact of his or her weaknesses.

Let’s take a look at a couple of personality types; I will “coach” these leaders based on their personality type.

Joe (ENTJ) – Extraversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judging

Joe’s a natural leader – in command, charismatic, visionary, action- and results-oriented. Joes’ team respects him and would take a bullet for him.

Joe’s leadership weakness? He sometimes steamrolls his team, making decisions quickly without taking into consideration the human impact of his decisions. Some of his team members don’t feel comfortable questioning Joe’s decisions, or even speaking up in staff meetings. They also don’t always feel their efforts are acknowledged, or appreciated.

Coach Lesa: I would take a two-pronged approach to working with Joe. We would focus on Joe’s ability to seek (and consider) feedback from his team; specific behaviors Joe could use to engage his team in the decision-making process.

I would also encourage Joe to seek help from a team member who can serve as a “translator” between Joe and his team, most likely someone with a preference for Feeling. This person must have permission to be completely open and honest with Joe, helping him be more aware of the potential impact of his quick, bottom-line-focused decisions.

Sandy (ISFP) – Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving

Sandy is all about personal loyalty, harmony, and team work. She has a very low need to lead or control others, and works to ensure her team members’ well-being. Her high-achieving team members love how she trusts them to do their work with no hint of micro-management.

Sandy’s leadership weakness shows up in under-performing team members who need more supervision and structure than Sandy prefers to give. Further, Sandy avoids conflict and avoids giving critical feedback to these team members. Not addressing, and correcting, unacceptable behaviors has a demoralizing effect on the entire team.

Coach Lesa: In a similar two-pronged approach, I would work with Sandy to step outside her comfort zone to provide the under-performers with much-needed feedback. We’d work on changing her thoughts around giving critical feedback; we’d also talk about the effect this is having on her high-achievers.

If Sandy is in a position to have an assistant manager or other key report who can support her in this, I’d love to see Sandy learn from someone who is strong in providing critical feedback and comfortable in addressing performance issues head-on.

I hope this has given you a flavor of how different personality types approach leadership, how to capitalize on their strengths, and how to address weaknesses.

One last note: The best leaders resist the temptation to hire “mini-me’s,” instead opting for people whose strengths and weaknesses are complimentary to their own. This ensures the team will have better balance and is likely to perform at a higher level.

Happy Leading!

Interested in a deep dive with me? Register for my next webinar. In addition to great content, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions and even get coached by me live! Here’s the link to find out about this month’s topic, date, and time: click here