INTJ in the Workplace

Above all else, INTJs want to be able to tackle intellectually interesting work with minimal outside interference, no more, no less. Time-consuming management techniques like trust-building getaways, progress meetings, and drawn-out, sandwiched criticisms are only going to annoy INTJs – all they need, be they subordinate, colleague, or manager, is to meet their goals with the highest standard of technical excellence and to be surrounded by, if anyone at all, people who share those values.

On paper this makes them appear to be exemplary employees, and in many ways they are, but there are many types, especially those with a combination of the Observant (S) and Feeling (F) traits, who will find a work (or any other) relationship with INTJs extremely challenging. INTJs have a fairly strict code of conduct when it comes to their work, and if they see coworkers valuing social activities and "good enough" workmanship over absolute excellence, it will be a turbulent environment. For this reason, INTJs tend to prefer to work in tight, like-minded groups – a group of one, if necessary.

INTJ Subordinates

INTJs are independent people, and they quickly become frustrated if they find themselves pushed into tightly defined roles that limit their freedom. With the direction of a properly liberal manager, INTJs will establish themselves in a position of expertise, completing their work not with the ambition of managerial promotion, but for its own intrinsic merit. INTJs require and appreciate firm, logical managers who are able to direct efforts with competence, deliver criticism when necessary, and back up those decisions with sound reason.

INTJ workplace habits

Note that it is INTJs’ expectations of their managers that are being defined here, and not the other way around, as with some other personality types. Titles mean little to INTJs – trust and respect are earned, and INTJs expect this to be a two way street, receiving and delivering advice, criticisms and results. INTJs expect their managers to be intelligent enough and strong enough to be able to handle this paradigm. A silent INTJ conveys a lack of respect better than all their challenges ever will.

INTJ Colleagues

Active teamwork is not ideal for people with the INTJ personality type. Fiercely independent and private, INTJs use their nimble minds and insight to deflect personal talk, avoid workplace tension, and create situations where they aren’t slowed down by those less intelligent, less capable, or less adaptable to more efficient methods. Instead, they will likely poke fun by forcing them to read between the lines and making them deal alone with work that could have been easier if they’d only taken INTJs’ suggestions.

INTJs are brilliant analysts, and will likely gather a small handful of trusted colleagues to involve in their brainstorming sessions, excluding those who get too hung up on details, or who otherwise have yet to earn their respect. But more likely, INTJs will simply take the initiative alone – INTJs love embracing challenges and their consequent responsibilities, and their perfectionism and determination usually mean that the work comes out clean and effective, affording INTJs the twin joys of solitude and victory.

INTJ Managers

Though they may be surprised to hear it, INTJs make natural leaders, and this shows in their management style. INTJs value innovation and effectiveness more than just about any other quality, and they will gladly cast aside hierarchy, protocol and even their own beliefs if they are presented with rational arguments about why things should change. INTJs promote freedom and flexibility in the workplace, preferring to engage their subordinates as equals, respecting and rewarding initiative and adopting an attitude of "to the best mind go the responsibilities", directing strategy while more capable hands manage the day-to-day tactics.

But this sort of freedom isn’t just granted, it’s required – those who are accustomed to just being told what to do, who are unable to direct themselves and challenge existing notions, will have a hard time meeting INTJs’ extremely high standards. Efficiency and results are king to INTJs, and behaviors that undermine these conditions are quashed mercilessly. If subordinates try to compensate for their weakness in these areas by trying to build a social relationship with their INTJ managers, on their heads be it – office gossip and schmoozing are not the way into INTJs’ hearts – only bold competence will do.

6 years ago
Although I am an ENTJ, I do not follow the "The more likely explanation is that they do not respect you enough to bother airing their opinions." I will air my opinion no matter what, usually critically. Despite the negative repercussions, I feel my subordinates should know. They have known me long enough to understand it. :)
6 years ago
As I said to a boss of mine once: "if I have to explain it to you, it's not worth the trouble" -- that did not earn me brownie points to say the least; why bother involving yourself in utterly stupid ideas and discussions -- they are a waste of time!!!
6 years ago
Wow. This is like looking into a mirror!
6 years ago
this is cracking me up! so accurate. especially the part about "Beware of a quiet INTJ during the brainstorming session – it is quite unlikely that they have nothing to say. The more likely explanation is that they do not respect you enough to bother airing their opinions." ... reading this explains so many many things about my relationship with my boss. the only thing i have a possible disagreement with is the "More interested in strategy rather than tactical implementation" - i definitely care so very much about strategy, but if the tactical implementation won't be followed through accurately and efficiently then i would rather not even bother participating in the conversation about strategy. also, as someone who is on the implementing side of things rather than the managerial side, i'd say tactical implementation takes up 80% of my brain space at work. this might not be a fact of my INTJness so much as the nature of my job, but it has basically made me decide that whatever the situation, if i don't have quality implementers i would much, MUCH rather just do the entire job myself.
5 years ago
Totally agree with you about implementation. Implementation requires planning and execution. I'm retired now but if I were in the position to manage a project again, I just might have everyone on my team take this personality test to determine if they are in roles that capitalize on their strengths, and assign them roles that fit their personality.
5 years ago
The first paragraph you wrote - truth. I'm not sure if I'm a closet INTJ that has learned the rules of the game though. The workplace and friendship sections used to be true for me. I've since accepted the realities of the world though and am capable of networking and offering advice and listening to people's problems. I believe networking is what got me my job. I don't think I'm the most competent person, but I was the most competent who applied. It fulfilled a mutual need.
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