Temperament in the Workplace: The 5 W’s of Idealists

Temperament in the Workplace: The 5 W’s of Idealists

Today, I’m welcoming Gary Benton, Myers-Briggs practitioner, back to the blog. Today, he’s going to continue talking about temperament – an aspect of Myers-Briggs that a lot of people don’t know about. To read up on his previous blogs on the Artisan temperament, click here, the Guardian, here, and the Rational, here. To read up on his previous blogs on Myers-Briggs in business, click here, here, here and here.

Thankfully, we have David Keirsey, a psychologist and student counselor who did excellent work in distilling personality theory down to the level of what is practical and observable. Keirsey divides the sixteen personalities into four groups that focus on two areas: how we communicate and how we pursue goals. The groups are: Artisans, Guardians, Rationals, and Idealists. Each week we will cover one of these temperaments and gain some insight into how these types can best be understood, loved, supported, and motivated in the workplace.

The Idealist

Who They Are: Idealists are those who prefer to see the world as it could be, and thrive on unlocking the potential of people and ideas. They correspond with the Myers-Briggs types INFJ, ENFJ, INFP, and ENFP. They are abstract in communication and cooperative in achieving their goals. This keeps the idealist hungry for imaginative ideas and abstract bits of wisdom that they can share with others to motivate and inspire.

What They Bring: Idealists crave meaning in their work, a bigger picture that gives significance to their day-to-day tasks. While this often discourages Idealists from entering corporate culture, many choose instead to approach business and office life in a way that lives up to their lofty ideals. When they have found their cause, they will work tirelessly to bring everyone on board, generating new levels of enthusiasm and productivity for the project.

When They Deliver: Idealists are often the ultimate procrastinators. They may become so excited with the idea of a project that actually carrying it into reality feels like a letdown. Because of this, they need an underlying structure of deadlines and goals to measure up to—too little expectation will most likely result in nothing getting done. When either the task or the deadline is arbitrary, Idealists tend to resent their work and go in search of something more meaningful.

Where To Find Them: Idealists pop up everywhere that people are involved, which means almost everywhere in a business. Some thrive in HR, evaluating how the company treats its employees and where they may best fit in the company. Others work at the top, dreaming big dreams about where the company might be headed and what it might do. Finally, others serve as ambassadors and salespeople, communicating their vision of the company’s worth and bringing others into that vision.

Why They’re Important: Idealists are a valuable litmus test for the health of a business. They are particularly attuned to the relational atmosphere and are particularly excited by imagination and creativity. If a business has trouble keeping Idealists around, it is either not innovating or not respecting its employees—and that can destroy a company! Keep them as barometers that everything is on the right track, and they will prove valuable in spreading that confidence throughout the whole workplace.

Do: Give idealists the “why” of a task and let them participate in your grand vision. Find them room to teach and develop those around them, as they love to share their knowledge and expertise more than anything.

Don’t: Give the idealist arbitrary tasks on an arbitrary schedule. This will inevitably lead to resentment and decreased productivity. Don’t put your product before the people involved, or you will lose the loyalty and productivity you need to get things done.


Thank you all for following along as we’ve covered the temperaments in the workplace. More personality related blogs are in the works, so stay tuned!!


To discover your type, take the Myers-Briggs test here: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp. Share your temperament in the comments!

Billy Epperhart
Billy Epperhart
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