Bright shiny objects attract seagulls as they fly by and they dive to retrieve them. Some people have a seagull model of leadership and organizational development. They are attracted to the latest bright shiny object (model, process or tool) that catches their eye. They latch onto it as the next possible solution for diminshed bottom line results or drop in this year’s employee satisfaction survey. While the intention behind this search for answers may arise from genuine care and determination to improve, there is a lot to be learned from observing and modelling how an INTP processes in a leadership role.

To set the stage here is a quote from Wikipedia on the traits of the INTP

INTPs organize their understanding of any topic by articulating principles, and they are especially drawn to theoretical constructs. Having articulated these principles for themselves, they can demonstrate remarkable skill in explaining complex ideas to others in simple terms, especially in writing.

There are three things that stand out in this description:

  1. First: Intuition plays a critical role in letting the INTP see the pattern that is emerging from the various aspects and current conditions in play in any situation. Not only does the INTP see the pattern quickly but they also put their observations into a theoretical framework that makes sense of the whole. What this means in the long run is that there is congruency between actions on various levels. “Flavour of the month” doesn’t have a place to get a toehold because the big picture integrates and is congruent with the strategy and with the plan for people development
  2. Second: While Intuition may be focused on the external world, thinking is the dominant function for this type, and that inward analysis is impersonal and conceptual. The INTP will guide decisions based on the principles that support the vision and the strategy. Constantly using Principles as a guide to “how things are done around here” is not only an amazing antidote to seagull management but it also inspires and reaffirms commitment from those involved in the organization.
  3. Third: The ability of the INTP to translate complex theories and ideas into simple terms allows everyone to play a role in the implementation and continued evolution of those ideas. While it was not made explicit in the Wikipedia description that I quoted, the INTP as a leader works best when everyone can contribute as best they can and not in a uniform group way.

For anyone in business the overload of incoming information and data through multiple streams such as email, blogs, newsletters can be overwhelming. How does anyone shift through all of this input to find what is the right fit for them and the needs of their constituents? This brief look at then INTP can provide some hints. While I still staunchly stand by being true to your own strenghts and being authentic in how you do business – there is still room from learning from each other’s gifts.

Lessons from the INTP

  1. One – Ask whether this innovation or new tactic is aligned with the core of your business. Consider the whole framework upon which your business is built before saying YES. Does this new idea fit with the vision. values and strategy? If somehow the changing needs of the moment don’t fit with your existing framework, take the time to address that issue rather than entering into a bandaid solution.
  2. Two – Your core principles will typically stay standing as the pillars of your business no matter what climate changes happen on the outside. Keep those principles alive in your organization by referring to them on a regular basis- (even if it is an organization of ONE) They are there as navigational signals to keep you off the rocks and to help your customers or clients find you when the storm is raging.
  3. Third – Everyone has something to contribute to the whole. David Whyte tells the story of a leader’s discovery that his “real” role in the organization was as chief storyteller. The INTP is uniquely gifted in being able to tell the story so that others can recognize what needs to happen. Every conversation that you have within and without your business is knitting the story called “who we are and what differentiates us from all the others”. Tell the story based on your principles and see what happens to how you are perceived in your circles.

(Who inlfluences and inspires you in your business or professional life? Tell us your story in the comments below)

Category: Leadership
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2 Responses to “INTP provides an antidote to “Seagull Management””

Ralf Lippold January 1, 2009

INTP – that is what I truely am. Storytelling interwoven in using causal looping (from system dynamics) is one of my passions – besides a whole lot of others;-))

Cheers and thanks a lot for the great posting


Sandy McMullen January 1, 2009

Helping people make the connections – this is so vitally important and somehow not as easy as it appears on the surface. Thank you for sharing what you do.