J vs. P // Leadership Styles

The J Leadership Style

J and P: The ultimate confusion of the personality type world.

"Am I a P? Or am I a J?"
"I tested ESFP, but I'm actually good at getting things done. Maybe I'm a J?"
"Most of the INFJ descriptions fit me, but I'm so much more lax than they say J's are."

The J and P conundrum has brought way more trouble than it's worth when it comes to figuring out someone's type. In a sense, J and P don't exist. They're just tags that explain which direction the T, F, N, and S functions go.

J and P don't really mean anything on their own.

That being said, there's totally some general things (take them with a grain of salt) that can be observed from J and P people, and I've listed some of my thoughts below.

I want to break some old mindsets:
J's and P's can both be excellent leaders.

In fact, we need P leaders and J leaders on our teams and in our world. One is not better than the other, more needed than the other, or even more likely to become a leader than the other. We need to become experts at forming teams that cover each other's weaknesses and empower each other's strengths. This is the only way that your organization, rock band, or multi-billion dollar company can reach it's full potential.

So, some thoughts.


The J Leadership Style

J's lead by directing. They know what they want to see happen, and they tell each person in the team what they want them to do. In the J leader's mind, the overall project or task is their responsibility alone, and they would love to be able to do everything themselves. (As the saying goes, “If you want something done right...”)

They see leading like driving a car – you push the gas, you steer, you go exactly where you are intending. Unless something goes wrong, you are in control.

An example: As a band leader, a J will have something specific in mind that they want to hear – a certain harmony from the background singer, a certain riff on the guitar, etc. – and they will communicate this to each person. They want to make what is in their head becomes a reality. For the most part, they prefer to be in control.


Things to watch out for:

J leaders could come across as controlling. They have to trust the team members to help with “their” project, which can be quite scary. This sometimes results in them micromanaging.

If you're a J leader, being overly controlling is something to look out for and keep in check, as J's have the potential to go down this road.

Keep an eye out for people on your team who may feel micromanaged. Make sure to communicate with them, and make an effort to make them feel safe and valued. At any rate, you will get the best work out of people who feel great about you and the project.

If you think you are being micromanaged by a J leader and want to express this to them, keep in mind that they will not “relinquish control” just because you feel a certain way. Show them what you're capable of. Show them how trusting you is a genius move. Remember, in their mind they are trusting you a great deal; express your appreciation for this. Also note that they might not be micromanaging you at all — take a second look at the situation and make sure you're not actually misunderstanding their intentions.



The P Leadership Style

P's lead by managing. They tend to believe that each person on the team has the strengths, skills, and vision needed for each task, and they simply fill in where they see lack in these areas. If one person seems like they need more training, they'll arrange training; etc. They see their task as to empower each person to just “do what they do” and do it well, and then they orchestrate everything together.

They see leading like sailing on a sailboat – the wind and the sea do what they want, and you adjust accordingly to get to where you're going. You're not really in control, but you know how to work with that.

An example: As a band leader, a P will make sure that everyone in their band is a great musician, and plays the right style of music. Their instructions will be “just do what you do awesome” and then they'll see what happens. If they don't like something – such as the harmony the background singer singing, or the guitar riff – they'll communicate that as they go. For the most part, they prefer to ride the wave.


Things to watch out for:

P leaders can come across as lazy or unmotivated. In their mind, the overall project or task is the responsibility of the group, with a bit more responsibility on them. They see themselves as the orchestrator of the project, and not entirely responsible on their own. It can appear to some team members that the P leader is not pulling their weight, or lacks the vision/direction needed to lead.

If you're a P leader, Laziness is something to look out for and keep in check, since it's a common pitfall for P's. Your team feels safest when they see that you're actually leading, and not just supervising. Yes, knowing you are in charge actually makes them feel safe.

Keep an eye out for people on your team who seem to feel like you're not pulling your weight. Some will even try to lead for you, in a back-seat-driving kind of way. Communicate with these people, and make an effort for them to feel safe and valued.


What are your thoughts? Ever worked with a great J leader? Maybe you're a leader yourself, what does leading look like for you?