Both logical and emotional, INFJs have unique qualities that make them leaders in their own right.
Being a leader as an INFJ is challenging, but it’s something I face every day at work. With my current company, I not only manage a team of soccer trainers, but I’m also responsible for training new hires and clients, conducting group and one-on-one meetings, and basically being the face of the facility. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of socializing required.
I love learning and developing myself as a person, but learning to lead others — and be so “on” all the time — has been tough as an INFJ, the rarest Myers-Briggs personality type. Being introverts, INFJs prefer to communicate in writing, not talking, so I often struggle to communicate effectively. In fact, I find that I don’t communicate or show my joy and enthusiasm in a way my team easily understands. And because I think things through deeply, I can be overly sensitive to criticism from my team and those above me.
For the longest time, I tried to ignore the things that made me me and lead like an extrovert. But that was extremely draining. Once I stepped back and reflected on my pursuit for personal growth, I discovered some unique qualities that INFJs have, which make them leaders in their own right.
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4 Strengths INFJs Have as Leaders
1. We “see the future” and help our team avoid trouble.
I’m not psychic, but if I had a dollar for every time I’ve thought, “I told you so,” I’d be living in a beach house on the Amalfi Coast by now. If INFJs had a superpower, it would be Introverted Intuition, their primary cognitive function. INFJs can process information on a very deep, almost subconscious level, and we recognize patterns in human emotion and behavior thanks to our second function, Extroverted Feeling. When these two cognitive functions work together in the background, magic happens. They are like a secret recipe. After some alone time — whether in the shower, some quiet time in my office, or during a walk around the park — the cake finishes baking and DING! I have a brilliant idea that seems to come out of nowhere.
Why is this useful as a leader? Well, I serve as my team’s early warning radar system. I “see into the future,” and can snuff out problems before they happen. I can prepare my team by communicating steps that we will have to take in order to overcome a tough month, a dip in numbers, or simply behaviors that will cause problems in the future.
The challenge is then to “build a bridge” for my team. I’m very future-minded, but for the most part, the rest of my team is not. So all these warnings and sneak peeks will seem like gibberish if I don’t communicate actionable steps we can understand today. When I fail to communicate effectively to my team, that is when the, “I told you so,” moments appear, or I get frustrated because I seem crazy and feel like no one understands me.
2. We read others well, building strong teams.
My coworker Ryan came in for work like he would have any other day. He greeted everyone with a smile, threw out some handshakes, and went about his business. To everyone else, it was just another day at the job for him.
Maybe it was the tone of his voice. Maybe his smile wasn’t as wide that day. Whatever it was, I felt that something was off about him. I could feel that he wasn’t himself on this particular day. I followed him a bit and tried to probe underneath the surface while trying to respect his privacy. He opened up and told me that one of his close friends had suddenly passed away. I listened, we called his clients to inform them that they would be training with me that day, and I sent him home, giving him the day off.
It’s crazy, but sometimes I feel as though I am more aware of what other people are feeling than I am of what I’m feeling. My Extroverted Feeling function is really good at picking up other people’s “vibes” or emotions. I pick up on body language, tone of voice, and other little details that most people miss. I am not a mind reader and don’t always know exactly what is going on, but I know when something is off, and use that to connect with my team, check on our health as a group, and be emotionally available if I need to.
3. We bring out the best in others.
As an introvert, I don’t look forward to group meetings. There is usually too much going on and not enough time to process it all. One-on-one meetings are completely different, though! These are meetings that I actually look forward to. I like helping others discover the best version of themselves. I’m not just concerned with how they’re doing at their job, but also how they are doing as a person.
As an INFJ, I’m very observant and therefore pretty good at figuring out what other people are naturally talented at. I use that to paint a picture of how they can best contribute to the group and play a specific role when we collaborate on projects.
I like to encourage and affirm people. Our words have power, and as a leader, I want to use my words to bring out the best in others. One-on-one meetings are also an opportunity for a pulse check. I see it as a chance to show that you care and empathize with what someone is experiencing in the workplace or at home. As President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People won’t care about what you know until they know that you care.” INFJs not only care, they care deeply. Showing that we care is crucial to winning influence as a leader, especially for an introverted leader.
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4. Creative problem solving is our jam.
John Maxwell said that the quickest way to build influence as a leader is to solve problems. The INFJ leader has the potential to solve problems in two different ways depending on the situation: Solve a problem before it happens or get creative with solutions after the fact.
The mature INFJ is an expert on recognizing patterns that could potentially lead to big problems. The INFJ leader can see this problem before it happens and get to work on solving it, or coming up with a solution if the problem is inevitable. If the problem is solved before it happens, your team will never experience it.
As for getting creative, the INFJ is a beautiful, walking paradox. While being extremely emotional, we are at the same time equally logical and analytical. This helps us come up with creative solutions. Our empathetic side helps us see things from other people’s perspectives, and we can use our analytical skills to figure out which solutions have the greatest opportunity to work.
Being an introverted leader in an extroverted world has its challenges. I experienced my biggest stressors when I tried to operate outside of my personality for an extended period of time. It was exhausting and part of me felt fake, knowing that it wasn’t the real me.
Be encouraged and know that you have unique gifts that will help you lead others in your own way as an INFJ. Learn them, hone them, use them, and you’ll impact those around you.
You might like:
- The Surprising Dark Side of the INFJ
- Yes, INFJs Can Be Entrepreneurs
- INFJs Fit In Everywhere and Nowhere
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