Personality Test
George Washington - Guardian Supervisor (ESTJ) Mother Teresa - Guardian Protector (ISFJ) Albert Einstein - Rational Architect (INTP) Margaret Thatcher - Rational Fieldmarshal (ENTJ) Mikhail Gorbachev - Idealist Teacher (ENFJ) Eleanor Roosevelt - Idealist Counselor (INFJ) Elvis Presley - Artisan Performer (ESFP) Jacqueline Onasis - Artisan Composer (ISFP) Dolley Madison - Guardian Provider (ESFJ) Queen Victoria - Guardian Inspector (ISTJ) Walt Disney - Rational Inventor (ENTP) Dwight David Eisenhower - Rational Mastermind (INTJ) Thomas Paine - Idealist Champion (ENFP) Princess Diana - Idealist Healer (INFP) Charles Lindberg - Artisan Crafter (ISTP) George S. Patton - Artisan Promoter (ESTP)

Avoiding Presentation Melt-Down
Presenting to Your Non-Artisan Big Boss

Mark, a marketing communications manager at a large non-profit organization, was presenting an update of his branding program to Tyler, the Executive Director, and his staff. Mark had worked hard to overcome numerous internal organization obstacles, as there were many entrenched bureaucracies within the organization with competing charters. In fact, Mark was able to implement several initiatives that had been attempted by his various predecessors over the past several years, but had been stymied by internal red-tape. Mark fairly glowed as he described how he had steam-rolled the internal opposition to his quest, and achieved goals that had been high-priority objectives for as long as he had been with the organization. In the excitement of telling about his big win, he didn't notice that Tyler's reaction was subdued. The following week, Mark's direct supervisor told him that Tyler was uncomfortable with his performance. Mark soon left the organization.

What happened? And how can you be prepared so that this type of disaster does not befall you?

The key is to know something about the Big Boss's personality, and just as importantly, about yourself. A prime cause of presentation melt-downs lies in the difference between the two: in key areas you are speaking the equivalent of a foreign language - without knowing it. Disaster looms when communication breaks down and misunderstanding occurs. Most often the presenter has no clue that it has happened, and keeps digging a deeper hole, unable to climb out. Fortunately, Dr. David Keirsey, author of Please Understand Me, and The Keirsey Temperament Sorter, has performed more than 50 years of research into these differences in communication style, and once you are aware of them, you are on your way to successful presentations to your current and future Big Bosses.

As an Artisan, you are a member of a large group - approximately 30% of the population. Within large organizations, Artisans often dominate the sales and communications departments. So, when you are presenting within those teams, you are on pretty solid ground. However, as you move outside these areas, you will likely often be presenting to senior managers with different personalities, and the style that works well for you in your own area may often prove problematic, as was the case for Mark. It is critical for you to learn the subtleties of communicating with bosses of other temperaments in their preferred style.

As Artisan, you likely have the following traits that you will tend to display when giving a presentation to Mr. / Ms. Big:

  • You respect results and "getting things done". When you have a goal, you don't let many obstacles block your way, and you're proud of your ability to improvise, negotiate, and overcome obstacles on the way to success.
  • You despise red-tape. You're extremely utilitarian, so the ends often justify the means. You have little patience for bureaucracy, hierarchy, or tradition that stand in the way of reaching a goal.
  • You seek the thrill of competition. Winning is important, and teams and sides shift with the game at hand. Personal friendships and loyalties never disappear, but they are put aside during competition - and reappear after the final gun.

These are all positive and valuable traits, and as noted above, are shared by at least a third of your colleagues in most corporate environments. However, when presenting to non-Artisan Big Bosses - that is, Guardians, Rationals, or Idealists, these very traits may be what create the disastrous results you want to avoid.

Idealist Big Bosses are the least like you. In contrast to your traits, the Idealist:

  • Respects harmony and diplomacy. Idealists see the workplace as an arena for interdependent labor. They abhor tactics and strategies that disregard the value of people, or block harmonious relationships between people in different departments or job functions.
  • Is much less-focused on near-term objectives than the long term health of the organization. They measure that health by the well-being of the individuals within the organization.
  • Believes that cooperation is far more effective than competition. What you might say half in jest in the heat of competition may be felt by an Idealist as a deeply hurtful wound, and deep wounds can take years to heal.

Guardians are prevalent in most large organizations, and the odds are better than 50-50 that your Big Boss is a Guardian. The Guardian:

  • Is respectful of authority. He views the organization hierarchically and is sensitive to people overstepping their "rank".
  • Values established processes, proven methods, and proper channels. These keep order in the organization and avoid unnecessary risk that can cause chaos. Red-tape was created to keep order.
  • Is loyal to the organization, and will put the needs of the organization ahead of the needs of individuals. "A better mousetrap" is not always the best solution if it requires organizational change that may rock the boat.

Rationals are the rarest of the four temperaments, but tend to be over represented in the upper ranks of management. Of the non-Artisans, you probably have the easiest time with Rational big bosses. The Rational:

  • Respects competency above all else and is skeptical of hierarchy and positional authority. They will appreciate your tactical ability to get things done, but will want to make sure that your results are in line with their strategic plan.
  • Questions the status quo continuously and will discard any process or method if they find a new one that they believe to be more efficient or effective.
  • Are loyal to finding a better way, and the needs of the organization or individuals take a back seat.

In our example at the top of the article, once you know that Mark is an Artisan, and Tyler is an Idealist, the problem for Mark becomes apparent. Rather than emphasizing how he had steam-rolled people to achieve his goals, he needed to highlight his diplomatic successes, and give praise to all who had aided him in achieving his objectives. Mark did indeed encounter as much cooperation as he did obstacles in his path, and highlighting this would have given Tyler confidence that Mark understood the importance of teamwork. Instead, Tyler figured he had a loose cannon on his hands and lost trust that Mark had the long-term interests of the organization in his heart. The end of the story was unfortunate for all parties.

Most of us have experienced similar situations at some point in our careers, and are likely to face them in the future. Armed with awareness of Keirsey Temperament Theory, these unfortunate results are both foreseeable and preventable. In fact, knowing how to best pitch the Big Boss based on their temperament can make you a star.

What Temperament is your boss? Are they a Guardian, an Idealist, an Artisan, or a Rational? Knowing can make a major difference in your career success and happiness. Figure out what Temperament your boss is with the new Keirsey Boss Sorter, now available at Invest 5 minutes that may greatly improve the rest of your (work) life. Click here to go to


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