Authority figures are often targets for criticism, but if we are the ones in charge, things can feel very different. With authority, we can advance what we think is best and try to direct events toward beneficial outcomes.
Some among us may be less attracted to authority, perhaps preferring to participate in group consensus or simply to be directed. After all, the added pressure and responsibility of authority can be daunting.
To see how different personality types feel about having authority, we asked people if they agreed with the statement, “You enjoy having authority over other people.” A modest majority (63%) agreed overall, but there were some remarkable contrasts in the data, especially involving the Nature and Mind personality aspects.
Which personality types relish authority the most? Let’s examine the results below.
Analysts (78% agreeing)
Analysts are, by far, the most attracted to having authority, which is interesting because they are also the most likely to resent authority figures. This just goes to show what a difference being in charge can make. It also demonstrates the influence of the Thinking personality trait: Thinking types were 21% more likely than Feeling types to say they enjoy having authority (76% vs. 55%, respectively).
As problem-solvers and strategic thinkers guided by their core Thinking trait, Analysts tend to believe that they have the most logical, efficient, and effective solutions. And as Intuitive personalities, they often have big ideas and creative visions. Having authority is an opportunity to make those visions a reality and to make sure that things get done their way. Less concerned about people’s feelings and more interested in what they can do, many Analysts may view people as assets and have a knack for directing them.
Commanders (ENTJ), who agreed with our statement more than any other personality type (87%), are an excellent example. As their name implies, strong-willed Commanders tend to be right at home in positions of authority, knowing just how to inspire or motivate others to get things done.
Sentinels and Diplomats (59% and 58%)
Sentinels and Diplomats agreed at similar rates, but that doesn’t mean that these Roles regard authority the same way.
Like Analysts, Diplomats have a passion for achieving idealistic goals, but their Feeling trait makes them much more emotionally sensitive to others. Teamwork-oriented and conflict-averse, Diplomats try to consider people’s feelings and needs, making the experience of being in charge as much about support as authority. Some Diplomats, like Protagonists (ENFJ) (71%), are naturally drawn to leadership roles, but more reserved personalities, like Mediators (INFP) (45%), may feel that it doesn’t matter much who is in charge, as long as everyone works together considerately and productively.
Sentinels, on the other hand, as Observant, Judging personalities, tend to prefer having authority figures in society who maintain structure and order. But not all Sentinels wish to be authority figures. Their responses were markedly divided between the Thinking and Feeling traits. Case in point: Executives (ESTJ) (80%) agreed strongly, but Defenders (ISFJ) (39%) were the least likely of all personality types to agree. Executives are known for being effective managers and administrators, while Defenders usually prefer to support rather than command others. While pragmatic, not all Sentinels are bold.
Explorers were also divided in their responses, with Thinking personalities, like Entrepreneurs (ESTP) (80%), being much more likely than Feeling personalities, like Adventurers (ISFP) (40%), to agree.
Explorers can be very persuasive, quick to seize advantages, and enthusiastic about pushing their goals forward, qualities that make having authority enjoyable. But they also prefer a format where they can be free to improvise and adapt. For many Explorers, the obligations of authority may outweigh the benefits. Being responsible for others can hamper their own dynamic, shifting interests, making it hard for them to pursue their own goals – a need driven by their Prospecting personality trait.
Social Engagement and People Mastery (74% and 70% agreeing)
Extraversion was the other key personality trait in this survey: Extraverts were 20% more likely than Introverts to agree that they enjoy having authority over other people (72% vs. 52%). Social Engagers and People Masters have the social skills to wield authority and contend with people. After all, being in charge is an exposed position: people may question your decisions or resent your power. Extraverts can handle such interactions, often seeking out dramatic or exciting stimulation in their environment.
It’s interesting to note that the Identity personality aspect, overall, had little influence on this survey. Even so, Social Engagers may have been somewhat more likely than People Masters to agree because their Turbulent Identity makes them motivated to work harder, as positions of authority often demand, and they may feel a greater sense of reward or satisfaction as a result.
Constant Improvement and Confident Individualism (52% and 51%)
Nearly tied in their responses, Constant Improvers and Confident Individualists, as Introverts, are clearly less comfortable with the social stimulation and potential conflict that authority figures typically experience.
Constant Improvers often doubt themselves, making it harder for them to exert authority. Confident Individualists, on the other hand, may feel frustrated by having to work with others, even in a superior role, usually preferring to do things on their own. Of course, these personalities are very much capable of overcoming these challenges and being effective leaders – they just might not enjoy it as much as their Extraverted counterparts.
When it comes to being in charge, Extraverted, Thinking personalities are far more likely not just to jump at the chance, but to savor it. Comfortable in and invigorated by social situations and guided by a rational, impersonal approach to getting work done, these types are often in their element when they’re running the show. Power, control, and the respect of others may all be attractive aspects of authority as well.
Introverted personality types, especially those with the Feeling trait, were significantly less likely to enjoy having authority over others. Whether they’re intimidated or exhausted by the social interactions of leadership or simply less comfortable with structures that put one person above another, these personalities may often prefer to work in cooperative or supportive roles.
What about you? Are you all about authority or more of a team player? Share your experiences in the comments below!