When Type Turns Into Terror

By Jack Speer | June 23, 2015

Absolutely Brilliant People Who Can’t Lead Teams/Get Along with Bosses and Peers

Sean Turner seemed to be that rare person destined for to have it all, at least he and everyone else thought so. Now his life and career were on the edge of a huge chasm, and he had no idea how he had backed into this situation.

As a small child—from the time he could reach his Mom or Dad’s computer—Sean Turner showed a stunning knack for technology. He was programming by age 10 with people in their 20’s who praised and recognized him.

Sean had a blast in high school and played in a band with some other computer geeks and kept up his grades. With an SAT score at the top of the scale, he sailed through college. Upon graduation, Sean was hot property for a wide range of talent search firms, and landed a choice job.

Now in a large company, Sean began to be concerned that the interpersonal techniques he had used in college didn’t work for him well in the workplace.

Sean was so frustrated that he asked his friend, Tom, out for a beer and a conversation. Tom was known for knowing what was going on, and Sean thought he would be honest with him.

“Well, Dude,” Tom said, after a couple of cold ones and a few handfuls of bar nuts and pretzels, “if you really want to know what people think, I’ll tell you.”

“I really want to know,” Sean replied sincerely.

“I gotta tell you I think you’re on the edge here. People think you’re really smart and know your business. You can be really charming and funny, but you seem so unpredictable to people, to the point of destabilizing.

“When you are in charge, they say, you come up with a new idea every day. You’re all over the board, and give them whiplash by your constant changing ideas.

“They get beaten down when they talk to you. Every conversation is a contest you have to win—they just get tired of arguing.”

“To tell you the truth, Tom, I’m really getting frustrated,” Sean replied wearily. I’ve always been popular all my life, and for the first time it seems everyone is against me. I just don’t fit in here, and the faster I can get out the better.”

“Dude, slow down,” Tom cautioned sympathetically. “If you bail out of here, the issues you’re facing will follow you anywhere you go. This is something everyone goes through to a certain extent, especially high achievers who are focus.

Do you know anything about personality type?” Tom queried.

“Yeah, they made me do that several years ago,” Sean said grimly. That’s those letters, isn’t it? If I remember correctly, I’m an ENTP. I don’t know about personality type, but I’m just the way I am, the way anyone is.

I can’t believe what they’re saying about me. I like to be funny and entertain people, and when they think I’m arguing, I’m just discussing a point. The reason I have so many ideas is that I want to create options so we can choose the right one.

Isn’t that the way most people try to be, although I have to admit, I am better at it than most people.”

“Well, most people really aren’t like you, but many ENTP’s are a small percentage of everyone,” explained Tom. I’m an ESTJ, and unlike you, I’m so focused that people say I’m not flexible. I just go in the same direction until something stops me.”

“I really like that about you, Tom. You never get blown off course like I do,” mused Sean.

“And I appreciate the creative and innovative ways you do things, Sean,” retorted Tom. So there are 16 types, and they interact very differently, and that’s what makes a good team. Now that we understand each other better, we only have 14 more to go.”