We see endless professional development workshops promising to transform aspiring entrepreneurs into visionary leaders, yet there also seems to be an elite class who naturally make it to the top. Just being in a position of power, however, doesn’t necessarily mean an individual is a good leader. A true entrepreneurial leader has a disposition to motivate, inspire, facilitate dialogue and implement strategy. A strong personality may be enough to drive someone to the top, but the ability to lead is another matter.
So, which one is it? Are entrepreneurs born or are entrepreneurs created?
What science has to say about leadership
Studies have suggested that genes play around a 30 percent role in determining if an individual will end up in a leadership position, while other studies place that heritability number lower at 24 percent. Environment exerts an even stronger influence on one’s leadership potential, it seems.
However, this finding then begs the question of whether or not personality is the product of genes or surroundings. After all, your personality can evolve as you age. Turns out, both shape how your brain works.
If personality is the combination of external influences and natural disposition, then it makes sense why managers are often interested in exploring that facet to understand how these factors have shaped a person’s thought process. Asking revealing executive interview questions during the screening process hints at how a candidate has behaved situationally in the past, but a personality test delves deeper to understand how someone might lead in a wider variety of situations.
The recognized Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment is a widely used tool that allows a closer look at how individuals with particular personality types and traits can thrive as entrepreneurs by examining communication preferences, strengths, weaknesses and leadership approaches. MBTI identifies personality preferences to help explain the ways that people in different personality clusters use their mind, which then reveals how to best approach leadership development.
Personality traits that are proven to make a stronger leader
According to the Myers-Briggs Company, the following are personality clusters that hint at strong leader material. Keep in mind, there’s no single “optimal” leadership type. Rather, each way of thinking has its own strengths when it comes to leading a startup team.
Personalities that exhibit a strong intuition-thinking preference represent a much larger percentage of those occupying leadership positions than when compared to their representation in the general population. Their particular strengths include problem solving and analysis, strategy and taking initiative to accomplish goals, all of which are great traits for an entrepreneur to possess.
People with a more intuition-feeling tendency empower others to do better in order to secure positive long-term results. The focus is on the bigger picture and truly making an impact, and is great to have in a business setting.
Individuals leaning more toward a sensing-feeling personality are more people-centered and thoughtful about helping others. Their leadership style is influenced by a desire to support and offer information in the present.
This personality pair is all about getting things done. This kind of tunnel vision ensures that the focus is on jumping into the question at hand and avoiding seemingly unnecessary discussion. The bottom line takes priority.
In the entrepreneurial space, we can likely agree that positive leadership creates healthier work environments, boosting retention and setting the stage for a company’s long-term success. As a leader, knowing your own personality preferences (as well as those of your employees, if you have any) and ways of thinking can help facilitate company growth.
In startups especially, effective communication and close-knit teams are crucial to company growth. As an entrepreneur, you rely on constant teamwork to achieve results. Knowing how you and your team members approach situations can also help you to be an effective leader. All in all, knowing about your own personality as well as your teammates’ sets the stage for better dialogue and collaboration.
With the right tools and guidance, individuals can learn to best leverage their own strengths to mimic effective leadership methods.
Originally published Jan. 23, 2019.