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The 7 biggest challenges facing ENTJ and INTJ entrepreneurs

by Ana Lopez
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While only 3-5% of the population rates as ENTJ and INTJ on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, this personality type represents 20-30% of entrepreneurs. NTJ entrepreneurs have many traits that make them brilliant at starting and growing a business. According to NetHunt, the most successful entrepreneurs mainly fall within four types: ENTP, ESTJ, ENTJ, INTJ.

ENTJ entrepreneurs include Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Sheryl Sandberg, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey and Warren Buffet, not to mention world leaders Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel. The INTJ personality type has an equally strong lineup, featuring Bill Gates, Isaac Newton, Susan Wojcicki, Indra Nooyi, JK Rowling, Albert Einstein, and Frieda Kahlo.

About ENTJ and INTJ entrepreneurs

ENTJ types are assertive, decisive and driven to succeed with a strong vision for the future. They often display strong self-confidence and self-assurance and are not afraid to take risks and motivate others to achieve their goals. They are talented in strategic thinking and can quickly analyze a situation, develop an action plan and implement it.

INTJ types have similar strengths. They too are highly analytical, adept at identifying problems and coming up with creative solutions. They are generally independent thinkers and doers, like to take the initiative and make decisions on their own. With a strong desire to create and build something new, they are highly motivated with a strong desire to succeed coupled with the ability to stay motivated even when the work gets tough.

Despite their strengths, these personality types have known weaknesses. These weaknesses can set them back in business and life if not overcome. From the personal experience of entrepreneurs who all score as ENTJ or INTJ, here are the top seven.

Impatience when not seeing results

NTJ entrepreneurs are powerful people who are not afraid to put in the work to create the results they know they are capable of. The flip side of this is impatience with not seeing consistent, positive results, especially with regard to teammates. NTJ entrepreneurs can pick something up and get to work right away, but not everyone works that way.

“Sometimes I get annoyed with people who take longer to think and have misinterpreted contemplation as others who are distracted or disinterested,” says Edmund Lowell, founder of Flag theory. It’s easy to see someone else’s need for more time as a weakness. Lowell quickly realized that “when I communicate expectations and timelines clearly, it gives teammates more time to think and produces higher quality output.”

Recognizing that other people work on different time schedules, says Lowell, means that NTJ entrepreneurs should “take a long-term perspective and focus on [their] own input and habits.” That way they only focus on what they can control, their “effort and attitude.”

Not doing a task even though they can

If something needs to be done, an NTJ naturally wants to get down to business and do it. It’s easy for them to jump into action and start producing or repairing. But it can hold them back as entrepreneurs.

Coach, Brazilian Jujitsu black belt and ex-Israeli Special Forces officer Itamar Marani has worked on “remembering that ‘might’ does not equate to ‘should'”, in that “you shouldn’t do something just because you could.” Having coached hundreds of NTJ entrepreneurs, Marani believes, “Paradoxically, your ability and habit of learning new things quickly can get in the way of your success. It can lead you to look inward instead of looking outward. To do certain things yourself instead of employing others.”

When Marani hears herself thinking, “can I do this?” he stops and asks, “Should I do this?” This “usually gives way to more effective high-level thinking,” he added.

Formalize processes too quickly

NTJ characters are often effective when creating systems. They enjoy building out formalized processes and seeing how they are followed and are no strangers to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and documentation. However, as with all strengths, there is an associated weakness.

Serge Shlykov, founder of AMZ watchersaid there are times when the INTJ in him “gets too excited to build out formalized processes early,” and spends a lot of time building and maintaining process documents, “only to find that 80% of the time they’re not using , not even as a reference.”

Shlykov now knows that “not everything you do has to become an SOP, especially in the beginning.” To meet this challenge, he has hired better people and more confidence in them. When he realizes that a process needs an accompanying written document, “I ask whoever is doing the work to write it.” He appreciates hiring better people is expensive, but believes it is “worth every penny”.

Overseeing the personal side of recruitment

Seeing facts objectively and making decisions based on logic comes naturally to NTJ entrepreneurs, enabling them to be assertive and decisive in work situations. The downside, however, is that they may miss more nuanced aspects of their decisions. For example, culture may seem light-hearted to them because it’s not something that can be measured objectively, a problem for NTJ types.

Davis Nguyen, founder of MyConsultingOffer, has encountered this problem. As an ambivert NTJ, and the sole leader in his company at the time, he fired someone because their work was not up to the required standard. He overlooked that while their work was substandard, they fit the culture well, leading to panic and a momentary morale blow to the rest of the team.

Now Nguyen will certainly explain his reasoning to the team. “After the layoff, I tell them it was done because we have high standards at our company, not because they didn’t fit well with the culture.” He also adds that “this termination allows the person to find a better opportunity where they will be praised for their cultural fit and their achievements…and we’ve cleared a spot to hire or promote someone who will do the same for us.”

Not accommodating other personality types

When you think and act in a certain way, it is sometimes difficult to understand people who think and act in a different way, especially if you consider it less effective. Instead of trying to understand their point of view and adapting the exercise to the style of the other, an NTJ entrepreneur may dismiss this person as incompetent and suspect his point of view as poorly researched.

Max Sinclair, founder of Snowball Creations, conducted mind mapping sessions in such a way that his team members “were given a question and had to come up with ideas on the spot”. He couldn’t understand why the others didn’t get it until one of them explained that “it would work better for her mindset to have the questions and have time to think before the session.” Sinclair found that this approach improved the quality of ideas across the group.

“Awareness and a good dose of empathy” have served Sinclair well in these scenarios. Recognize that other people think, speak and act differently and that you can better understand that than write it off.

Dislike filters and subtext

NTJ entrepreneurs can be thick-skinned and many appreciate constructive criticism because their logical brain can accept it and channel it into an action plan. In return, they find it easy to give criticism and direct feedback, expecting it to be received in the same way.

“To me, constructive criticism is love,” says Nattha Wannissorn, founder of Wellness medical writer, “but most of the others don’t feel the same way.” Wannissorn wishes “a world where people have no need for filters. It’s exhausting if I have to worry about how the things I say will get to people. When working with more sensitive souls, tiptoeing around them can feel like wasted energy.

One option here is to ask the other person if they want feedback instead of assuming they do. As soon as they say yes, criticize. Remind them that you are on their side, want the best for them and believe they are capable of it. It may be the reassurance they need to soften the bluntness.

With exceptionally high standards

Setting the bar high, on the surface, doesn’t seem like a weakness. In most cases, high standards lead to better quality work and faster business progress. NTJ entrepreneurs set themselves ambitious goals and are intrinsically motivated to achieve them. However, when they set these goals for others, they may become disappointed.

“I often got frustrated when I felt like I gave someone enough training, direction, and time to complete a task, only to then not do it to the standard or timeline I expected,” says Jase Rodley, founder of Chosen Labs. “It was almost inevitable for a while that I would be disappointed with the outcome.” This fueled Rodley’s limiting belief of if you want to do it right, do it yourselfand he would resort to executing rather than managing, which stunted his company’s growth.

His solution? Take a step back. “I found that I would spend months or even years learning a complex process, and then expect a new hire to understand it within days.” This clarity, coupled with a commitment to staying at a high level rather than working on operational tasks, led Rodley to “work side-by-side with a COO who oversees all hiring, training and day-to-day operations.”

Every strength has an associated weakness, and NTJ personality types know this firsthand. They can be wildly driven, yet wildly impatient at the same time, with the ability to get so much done that they don’t wonder if they should be doing it. They rush to formalize processes out of a blind love for systems and set high standards for themselves, but may underestimate the learning curve and different working styles of others. In addition, they are based on logic and reason and may forget the intricacies of recruiting or dealing with colleagues.

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