Web Paper Title: "Myers Briggs, XYZ Leadership, and Team Roles" by David M. Boje, Ph.D.  January 21, 2001- David Boje, Inside the Leadership Box
Born on: January 21, 2001


Step 7: Spiritual Quests and the Journeys of Myers-Briggs

David M. Boje

June 21, 2001

Myers-Briggs is about how the mind works.  The four cognitive styles, ST, NT, SF and NF combine two dimensions of cognitive style.  S and N answer the question of epistemology (How we know and perceive the world and take in information). S and N can stand in the same time and place and perceive two different worlds.  T and F answer the question of How We Decide? They will look at the same information and situation and come to different decisions. Before reading further take the Myers - Briggs test and review basic study guide (Boje, 2001).

Figure 7 - The Four cognitive styles


P and J answers the question, How You Like Life to be (2 life orientations)? Judgers prefer order, plans, decisive behavior and closure.  Perceivers want to be flexible, spontaneous, adaptive, and open to the enjoyment of life.  Extroversion and Introversion are two LIFE ATTITUDES and have to different answers to the question, What World Do You Live In? Extraverts inhabit the outer world of action, cause and effect - and introverts live in the inner world of consciousness, ideas, and reflection.


In Figure 3, I lay out the basic definitions of each of four dualisms that make up the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types.  I want to follow Richardson (1996) and draw spiritual practice implications for each.  To wit, the spiritual challenge of a person, is to embrace their opposite, to make what they are not yet, their spiritual quest. The E can learn from the I, etc.

Figure 8  Associations of M-B with Spirituality

    • Starts with outer situation
    • Energized by events in outer world
    • Likes novelty of experience
    • Gregarious
    • Likes action
    • Enjoys variety
    • Likes talking and groups
    • Lots of friends

    Outgoing, Publicly expressive, Interacting, Speaks then thinks, Gregarious

    SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE - Needs to take time to go inside and reflect; stop talking and start listening; Do more self-absorption; Take a break from the world of action and people.


    • Starts with inner situation
    • Energized by inner world of ideas
    • Deeply focused
    • Prefers inner life consciousness
    • Deliberate
    • Relates the new to what has meaning
    • Good listeners
    • Center on reflection
    • Fewer close friends

    Quiet, Reserved, Concentrating, Thinks then speaks, Reflective

    SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE - Needs to get back in touch with life and nature. Break out of the isolation and self-absorption; Make a difference in the world.


    • Base perception on what is present here and now in physical experience.

    • Prefer realistic actuality (what is)

    • Practical and literal

    • Observe facts directly in experience

    • Go step by step

    • Have the common sense to Use experience

    • Instincts drive action

    • Put up with it when can not control it

    • Prefers a life of action

    Practical, Specific, Feet on ground, Details, Concrete

    SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE - Needs to appreciate the cosmos, the mystery of inspiration.


    • Base perceptions on the possibilities in situations for symbolic, abstract, and mental patterns

    • Seek patterns (what might be)

    • Hunches and inspiration

    • Imagination in collective unconscious

    • Read between the lines

    • Detached and impartial

    • Dig archetypes

    • Follow symbolic cues

    • Dig abstract transformations

    General, Abstract, Head in clouds, Possibilities, Theoretical

    SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE - Needs to get in touch with life, take walks in the world


    • Decide by objectives, analysis, purpose and the logic of cause and effect.

    • Aims for impersonal

    • Aims for clarity

    • Like fairness

    • Aims for truth

    • Big Left Brain

    • Detached outputting

    • Sort it all out for honesty and truth

    • Criticize it

    • Analyze it

    • Organize it

    • Administer it

    Analytical, Clarity, Head, Justice & Rules

    SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE - Needs to get in touch with feelings, give the left brain a break, follow a butterfly


    • Decide by subjective process

    • Stays centered on people and values

    • Seeks worthwhileness of choices.

    • Champions and persuades

    • Is tactful, unless passionate

    • Looks at nuances and tones of experience

    • Aim for harmony

    • Wants trusty

    • Wants to be humane

    • Big Right Brain

    • Attached outputting

    • Seeks worth and meaning in experience

    Subjective, Harmony, Heart, Mercy, Circumstances

    SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE - Needs to get organized, be more analytic and take a break from people.

    • Prefers to live life in planned way
    • Prefers an orderly way
    • Wants things settled
    • Likes being decisive
    • Seeks closure
    • Enjoys finishing things
    • Lots of life control
    • Prefers organized religion with discipline, predictability, consistency, and closure.

    Structured, Time oriented, Decisive, Makes lists (uses them), Organizes

    SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE - Needs to play, break a few routines, and explore human nature.

    • Prefers a life that is very flexible
    • Prefers to keep options option
    • Prefers the more spontaneous way
    • Keep it adaptive
    • Quite tolerant
    • Opens up to life
    • Enjoys understanding things
    • Enjoys life
    • Prefers non-religious, where life is the center of spirituality.

    Flexible, Open ended, Exploring, Makes lists (loses them), Spontaneous

    SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE - Needs to get some control over their openness to life, and plan a few moments of peace and control.

A balanced spirituality is a life quest to experience all four spiritual journeys. The four journeys, as described by Richardson (1996) are

The hypothesis is that it is the journey opposite to the walk you are on now, that is your challenge, what I will call your spiritual quest.  If you reverse the letters of your personality type, then you can find your spiritual quest, your struggle with your most opposite self. I am ENTJ (Prince) and my opposite is ISFP (Reformer). 

Example. If we just look at Introvert - Extrovert and Sensing - iNtuitive, we can observe the following.









I+N is only 4% of the population, while E+S, their opposite is 52%.  I + N, the Introvertive Intuitives grow up in a world controlled by the religious practices of E+S types.  Being only 4%, I+S can have difficulty finding their own native spirituality let only embarking on a spiritual quest to love their opposite (E+S).  E+S, by contrast has a majority view point and can miss out on their quest to develop their deeper inner experiences, by embracing their opposite. They live in a spiritual environs that is not too aware or interested in inner spiritual journeys. 

when we look at the 16 personality types in Figure 9, you get some sense of alternative leaders and their spiritual paths.


Figure 9 - 16 Personality Archetypes




Lone Ranger (SUPER)




Mastermind (POLITICIAN)


Inspector (BUREAUCRAT)


Guardian (SUPER)




Architect (POLITICIAN)


Promoter (OPINION)




Crusader (HERO)


Engineer (PRINCE)


Sculptor (OPINION)


Adopter (REFORMER)


Charisma (HERO)


Valiant (PRINCE)

Leadership Out of the Box - David Boje


We are living a story (from birth, to maturity, death) and that is part of a larger story (our role in the cosmos and after-life).  While we are here, our personality types make us more likely to become a passenger in one of four spiritual journeys. And our challenge from a Jungian standpoint is to find out what we are missing, to learn and appreciate the path we have not chosen, and perhaps make it a spiritual quest.


Source: Richardson, 1996: 186


Figure 10 - Examples of Spiritual Journeys


ST - Journey of Works
  • Loves work, law, administration, institution, and responsibility.
  • Tragic
  • Moses
  • Peter
  • Karma Yoga
NT - Journey of Unity
  • Seeks clarity in universal and synthetic principles.
  • Ironic
  • Buddha
  • Socrates
  • Schweitzer
  • Juana Yoga


SF - Journey of Devotion
  • Split between ritual practice and Dionysian Festival
  • Romantic
  • Mohammed
  • St. Francis & Mother Teresa
  • Bhakti Yoga


NF - Journey of Harmony
  • Experiments with the meaning and flow of life to fine the self
  • Comic
  • Jesus
  • Gandhi
  • Raja Yoga


NT - Journey of Unity

NT's need a quiet room, a simple chapel, or a Zen garden in which to meditate.  They seek to bind life and nature into a unity.  Buddha is an example of someone who became exposed to the world of the sick, old, and dead and wanted to learn what life was all about.  He meditated and fasted to discover the inner knowledge of the truth of life.  Under the Bodhi Tree of life, beside the flowing river, he avoided the temptations of the flesh and became a conqueror of his most inner enemies. This is the journey of unity, to transcend ego and lose our attachments to the material plane, and live ultimately in the present.  But, for NT this is impossible because we are cut off from our senses of the life world and our feelings are detached.  Another example is Albert Schweitzer whose motto was "Reverence for Life" as a way to affirm his ethics of balance of haves and have nots. The struggle for the NT is to knit together an ethics and a worldview into an integrative principle of being in the world. The character Spock on Star Trek is another example.  How to practice principles of non-violence and reverence for life while on a Star Ship? The journey is to boil complexity of life and cosmos with the inner life world of abstractions and symbols.  For the NT, it is an inner struggle and the life of the inner world dominates actually being in the outer world of festive and emotional life.

SPIRITUAL QUEST FOR NT's - To enter the world of the physical, care for a pet, and in time, join the world of the social. Experience to world of the senses, and seek wisdom in the flesh and blood of Dionysus. It is a big move for Apollo. The quest for NT is to find S and F. 

NT - Junana Yoga - It is a path of knowledge, where we learn to hear knowledge, mull it over, sort it out, and seek bliss through its unity. Juana seeks to reunite the subject and object split by seeking a transcendental self.  The inner self seeks to find relation to the global and the cosmos. 

SF - Journey of Devotion

The SF is the spiritual opposite of NT.  The SF will take off their shoes and feel the Earth between their toes. They will also remove their shoes at the door, and join in the festive and spontaneous moments of life.  The SF likes a good pilgrimage, heroes for their worship, likes good stories, and will be festive in human experience.  They prefer direct acts of service and devotion to abstract discussions of theology. Likes the flesh and blood of a Dionysian Festival, that is animated and present, rich in experience, and lots of feeling and good old natural images. Celebration is the nectar immortality.  Mother Teresa is their role model. Mohammed (ISFJ) is another example. Islam means peace and submission; Muslim is one who submits.  Every detail of life is significant, subject it to intricate social and legal rules. A life without guidelines is just unthinkable. Then there is St. Francis of Assisi who kissed the Leper, saw the face of suffering, and sought a life of service.

SF and Bhakati Yoga - Devotion found through love of God. Emotions are sacred, ready to fall in love, can find glorification in sacrifice, and bliss in self-surrender.

Spiritual Quest of SF - Leave the brotherhood and take a journey with N and T.  Follow the heart instead of the rules, discover you intuition, and instead of surrendering to feeling, try to think about the cosmos, our position in evolution, and of course the spectacle of capitalism. Break out of the culture of traditions.

ST - Journey of Works

The ST is a journey of works, where everything in life must be put into order, everything is part of the whole, and the ST was sent here to administer the house cleaning.  The spiritual journeys of ST tend toward law and order, righteousness, stewardship, being realistic, and the administrative life.  Digs the codes of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Motto of the ESTJ is "Lend a hand" (Richardson, 1996: 111).  Examples are Moses (ESTJ) and St. Peter, both willing to administer.

Karma Yoga and the ST - Karma attaches to the consequences of every action. Karma is the ultimate law of cause and effect.  Evil deeds have evil consequences. Ace with responsibility or you will be reborn to learn the lessons you missed.

SPIRITUAL QUEST OF ST - Leave the practical and productive life on Mount Apollo for a time, and seek the lost world of Dionysus. There is more to life than a journey of work, meeting obligation and managing everyone's life. The quest of ST is to find N, the symbolic and F the feeling for the chaos of life.

NF - Journey of Harmony

NF is the child in the fairytale, the character in the myth who is on a journey of self discovery. Harmony is not the path to order of the ST, or the logic of the universe of the NT, here harmony is something different.  Harmony means that there is a flow to the humanity of life, and it is the job of the NF to self-actualize while taking their voyage of discovery. Harmony is life in a world and a cosmos the Intuitives can see in all its complexity, but F's like to feel good. Harmony is a voyage of self-actualization in the great spiritual flow of life and chaos. In this definition of harmony, disharmony is a given and the flux of change is the challenge of life. Joseph (old testament) is an example.  He is in the chaotic flow of life, gets a vision of life potential, and you know the rest of the story.  Other examples include Jesus and Gandhi, both Charismatics of vision in touch with the flow of life. The polar opposite of Jesus is Peter whose ST style is an obvious vexation. And a quote from Beth Mott about Gandhi - "The only tyrant I accept in this world is the 'still small voice' within me." Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi (Burgess, 1983).

NF and Raja Yoga - Regulation and discipline of body, the physical emotional and mental brining one more personal power. The self is brought into harmony with the cosmos. 

NF Spiritual Quest - SF can find spiritual challenge by encounters with S and T.


References to Step 7 (See all References)

Boje, D. M. (2001) Myers Briggs Leadership and Team Roles and Theatrics http://business.nmsu.edu/~dboje/teaching/490_psl/myers_briggs_and_leadership.htm

Burgess, Peter H. (1990). Selected Quotations from the East & West. Graham Brash, Singapore.

Richardson, Peter Tufts (1996). four Spiritualities: Expressions of Self, Expressions of Spirit, A Psychology of Contemporary Spiritual Choice.  Palo Alto, CA: Davies-Black Publishing.

Thompson, Lenore (1998) Personality Type: An owners' Manual, A practical guide to understanding yourself and others through typology. Boston/London: Shambhala.


Proceed to Step 8 Philosophy and M-B