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A shout out for the introverts

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | Oct. 7, 2014
It's not news that a lot of IT folk are introverted. But let's acknowledge what a good thing that is.

When IDC looked at what's really what in IT, using MBTI results from almost 20,000 IT employees, they found that these were the top three personality types:

ISTJ (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging), 19.4%
ISTJs tend to be quiet and serious, and to earn success through their thoroughness and dependability. They are practical, matter-of-fact, realistic and responsible. Interestingly, ISTJs are also the most common personality type in the general population, which gives the lie to the idea that IT people are somehow "weird."

ESTJ (Extrovert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging), 13.6%
Yes, that's right: The second most common IT type is an extrovert. ESTJs tend to be practical, realistic and matter-of-fact, all things held in common with ISTJs. But they make quick decisions organize projects well and focus on getting results in the most efficient way possible.

It isn't surprising that many ESTJs are IT managers. What may surprise you, though is that an IT manager is more likely to be an ISTJ -- just as ISTJs are the most common personality type in IT, they are also the most common in IT management.

INTP (Introvert, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving) ), 7.9%
INTPs are the best fit for the popular stereotype of tunnel-vision scientists and techie nerds, a stereotype that has thrived at least from the boffins of 1950s' British science fiction movies to Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. And yet INTPs are only the third most common type working in IT. These are the sorts of people who seek to develop logical explanations for everything that interests them. They tend to be more interested in theory and abstractions than in the practical, and find ideas more engaging than social interactions. That's not to say INTPs can't be social. But the conversations that engage them are more likely to be about how warp engines could really work than about Sunday's football game.

The report sums it up nicely: "There is no typical IT personality, but there are different ways of working and engaging with others. And today, as the role of IT develops, IT leaders are increasingly required to move outside the narrow remit of IT in order to sell the benefits of their department into the wider business. This could prove a double-edged sword, but it is worth remembering that you don't have to be extroverted to sell, although you may need to be introverted to spend 12 hours doggedly pursuing one single detail-orientated development task. ... There is nothing to say any personality-type can do this less well -- only that different aspects of the task will prove harder than others to each individual involved."


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