Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and other top IT leaders differ from others in the board room. The differences have a significant impact in how they approach business and leadership. Understanding the differences makes it easier for CIOs to stretch beyond their comfort levels. This is where the Myers-Briggs test comes into play.

One indicator of the differences between those in the IT world and those in the rest of the world is the results of Myers-Briggs testing. The majority of IT professionals fit into the “ISTJ” personality type in the Myers-Briggs matrix. The rest of the population tends to fit into the “ESFJ” type. What does this mean?

Distinguishing “ISTJ” From “ESFJ”

Each letter in the personality-type name indicates one of two personality traits. Here’s a breakdown:

  • The first place is either “I” for introverted or “E” for extroverted.
  • The second place is either “N” for intuitive or “S” for sensing.
  • The third place is either “T” for thinking or “F” for feeling.
  • The fourth place is either “J” for judging or “P” for perceiving.

So, the typical IT professional is “ISTJ”–introverted, sensing, thinking, and judging. Most others are “ESFJ”–extroverted, sensing, feeling, and judging.

The “So What?” Factor

One of the critical differences is the introverted versus extroverted personality trait. Introverts are more comfortable in small groups or alone, while extroverts enjoy large gatherings and public speaking. For an executive, being outgoing and at ease in a crowd is critical. Networking and socialization is normally part of the job. Introverted CIOs may be uncomfortable in this part of the job. Becoming comfortable in crowds and learning how to make connections with people are crucial steps for successful IT executives.

Another critical difference is the thinking versus feeling personality traits. The thinking type tend to use logic and careful planning to make decisions. The feeling personality type tends to be more spontaneous and more in touch with emotions. While logic has its place in the board room, many business decisions are a mixture of research, planning, and going with the gut. Finding that balance is critical for the CIO.

While both types share the sensing personality trait, the non-IT population usually has more of this than the average person in IT. Sensing focuses on a person taking in the information around them and using it as-is. The opposite of that is intuition, which focuses on a person taking in information, then interpreting it and adding more meaning to it. For the CIO, being able to make connections between different events or circumstances is critical. CIOs need to develop the intuitive part of their nature more.

Stretching beyond comfort levels is essential for the successful CIO. With the ever-growing role of technology in modern business, CIOs need to have a leadership role in any discussion of technology adoption and integration. That means being comfortable in a crowd and making decisions based on logic as well as intuition.