Myers-Briggs In-Depth: Attending and Perceiving: Sensing vs iNtuition – Part II

by Ron

Hidden Danger in the Perceiving Function

I mentioned in the previous post on Myers-Briggs that most successful business people have figured out that they need to balance this function.  This balancing act most often takes the form of a trusted partner, colleague or consultant.

Great appreciation on a peer basis

I find that my Sensing leaders love to get together with their more natural iNtuitive colleagues.  The say things to me like:

“I just love the way Margaret breaks me out of my “down in the weeds” focus.  She gets me thinking about big-picture, long-term implications of my decisions and how we need to think about making these decisions.”

Similarly, my more natural iNutiive clients will often praise their more Sensing colleagues.

“Steve really gets me out of the clouds and grounds me in what’s going on right now and pointing out the issues that if we don’t fix soon will prevent us from achieving our long-term vision.”

Danger in employee evaluations

However, that appreciation seems to be limited to the peer-to-peer relationships.  Often that same appreciation is not offered to subordinates.

I will always ask the iNtuitive types on a team which preference (sensing or iNtuition) they would prefer to have working for them.  Their answer is always an overwhelming “Sensing!”  Why? Because they know that while they would prefer to stay at the 40,000 foot level, watching what is going on around them and looking to the future, they need people working for them that are clearly paying attention to the day-to-day ups and downs of the business.

But what’s interesting is that when I ask the Sensing types which preference would they prefer to have working for them, their answer is also an overwhelming “Sensing!”  Why? Because if they’re preference is to pay attention to the details and you’re working for them, you had be at least as good if not better at paying attention to the detail.

Here’s the problem

Even though the iNtuitive types appreciate the skills and attention to detail that the Sensing types provide, they may also be thinking “That person is great but I’m not sure they could take over my job because they don’t think broad enough.”

And while a Sensing type may have a creative, innovative iNtuitive type working for them, iNtuitives are often known for making “error of fact”.  That “failure” really bothers the Sensing type and therefore are more likely to give poor performance reports.

We tend to fall back on our natural preference more when we’re evaluating people who work for us than the honor and appreciation of other types when we’re dealing them on a peer basis.

Honor and appreciate all types in all cases and people will begin viewing you as a very honorable and appreciative leader.


Myers-Briggs In-Depth is a blog series in which I dive into each MBTI function with more detail, providing some practical applications for creating better dynamics and better decision making. Click here to read the entire series.
Interested in an overview of each of the four Myers-Briggs functions? Click here to read the Using MBTI to Great Advantage series.

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