The Surprising Myers-Briggs Personality Type that Makes the Best Leader


Each of the 16 Myers-Briggs type have a potential to become a great leader. In fact, thousands of reports on the MBTI types of leaders and managers demonstrate that all types occupy significant leadership roles and positions.

But the question usually comes up, what type makes the “best” leader of all? Every type has its strengths and weaknesses.

According to a study of 26,477 persons in a leadership development program conducted by Center for Creative Leadership, the following percentage were reported on the MBTI type for leaders:

  1. ISTJ      18.2%
  2. ESTJ     16.0%
  3. ENTJ    13.1%
  4. INTJ     10.5%

Clearly, there is an overrepresentation of Thinking and Judging preferences among leaders and managers. Most organizations are structured in which they favor logical, rational and decisive behaviors. Perhaps, that’s why those with Thinking and Judging preferences have become the defining hallmarks of those who are considered “leadership material.”


Here’s an interesting break down with the type distributions of men and women on the Thinking/Feeling dimension. Globally, 70% of men have a right-handed preference for Thinking. In other words, when making decisions, men tend to be impersonal, rational, and logical. On the other hand, 70% of women report a preference for feeling, which means only 30% of women have a right-handed preference for thinking. Women in management positions sometimes show a greater percentage of Feeling types than in male management groups, but typically Thinking is the preferred types for a majority of these women (McCaulley, 1992).

The question, what type makes the best leader, obviously cannot be answered. The only question that can be answered is which type is more predominant in leadership positions. It’s interesting to note how the wider culture has certain archetypes when it comes to being a leader.

Personally, I’m an ENFJ. But, most of my life, I envied certain “leader type” personalities like Steve Jobs, a quintessential ENTJ. Instead of embracing my God-given qualities and tendencies, I tried to become someone else by sheer imitation. Deep inside I felt uncomfortably fake and even deeply frustrated, but I persisted until I hit my quarter-life crisis. The more I learned about my unique hard-wiring, I realized I was so much bigger than mere four letters. Yes, I believe in the power of self-awareness and learning about my inherent tendencies, but putting myself in a box will never liberate me to live out God’s calling in my life.

If you enjoyed this post, here’s my top recommended resources for leaders of all shapes and sizes. 

  • Just a thought, but that study only examines the number of people who are leaders. It does not measure effectiveness, longevity, etc. I think the better way to describe that study is “what hiring boards believe is the best personality type for leadership.” In other words, all that data says it that people think an ISTJ is best for leadership, but it does not show how that personality type performs best as a leader. Maybe I’m wrong, but just a thought as I was reading.

    • Jeremy Vega

      Another factor is that according to many statistics, ISTJ and ESTJ personality types are far more prevalent than say the much rarer ENTJ and INTJ personality types. When 11.8% of the population are ISTJs contrasted with a mere 1.8% of ENTJs, your numbers are going to be skewed. Certainly this something to at least the aspirations of the Intuitive Judgers.

      • This is a good point as well. Thanks for sharing.

      • Elsa

        I totally agree. There are five times as many xSTJs in the wild as there are xNTJs. It would seem like the xNTJ types float disproportionately to the top as leaders.

        • Ryan Walker

          So now may I propose a question to take this conversation deeper? Since no leader drives an organization alone, what MBTI consistently plays the hidden hand role to these great leaders? IMHO, too much credit is given to the obvious leaders when really it’s a team or network of MBTI’s that produce success by working together, playing devils advocate, even starkly disagreeing with decisions at times. Just a thought. – INFJ male