A Look At The INTP Leader

Smart. Intelligent. Fun.

Sounds like we have some leadership potential up in here.

An in-depth and humorous look at the strengths and struggles of the #INTP leader. #MBTI #Personality

Or your next internet date.

Could go either way.

INTPs are often quiet, contemplative, curious, and innovative. They seek mental stimulation like your sister’s nails seek a chalkboard. Their pull towards the imaginative frame of structured creation is long and lasting. A deep need to fully understand their area of focus tends to set them apart from other types. Given many INTPs end up becoming experts in their field over time, it’s no secret many find themselves leading others.


An intellectual army for revolution!

INTP leaders, much like ENTP leaders, dislike being forced into company rules and regulations. They want free bounds in which to create systems and optimize the congruency of their findings. Although INTPs can work more easily within the bounds of rules than ENTPs, INTPs still desire a sense of freedom and autonomy in their workload.

No leashes allowed in this city park.

Sorry, Karen.

INTP leaders contemplate structure readily. This can often be seen in their ability to call out incongruencies within systems, arguments, and more. Lenore Thomson notes in Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual that “Such types [INTPs] are interested in the logical possibilities of structure: the way form and context interact with and exert change on each other” (311). INTPs like creating their own systems and are at their best when they can lead others by way of their own models.


Ha, unlikely.

They aren’t that basic.

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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

1. They Prioritize Individual Autonomy

Nothing is more important to an INTP than having the time to fully explore their ideas. The pursuit of mental space and time filters directly into their leadership style as well. A firm goal I see in most INTP leaders is the drive to give their ideas (and the idea of others) the space to grow. If an INTP cannot go off into their own realm in order to organize their thoughts, they might fall short of optimizing their product, company, vision, workforce, and so forth.

Introvert problems.

Forever and a day.

INTP leaders want to be hands-off because they don’t like it when others are firmly hands-on in their own projects. They want their workers to be fully capable and autonomous in their own right. Of course, INTPs will help others where needed, but to have a capable task force is necessary for this leader. If an INTP leader is constantly getting called away from their brain, it may prove taxing. To start and stop their minds over and over is much like hitting the brakes as hard as you can fifty million times while driving down a hill.

Not ideal.

And probably bad.

I have no idea when it comes to mechanics.

Trust me.

2. They Want Open Dialogue

INTP leaders want their domain to be full of discussion. Productive or otherwise (sometimes work can be fun too, y’all). INTPs don’t get enough credit for their use of humor and rapport in this arena. They can be lively and energetic in the name of a joke. Yet their care manifests in their will to hear everyone out and the privileging of their ideas over their credentials. INTPs will make their space safe and habitual for their workers.

Someone better pull out some easy chairs.

We’re going to need about twelve.

I invited my aunt, so maybe thirteen.

INTP leaders want stimulating conversation around them. They are naturally inquisitive and reluctant to tie their viewpoints to one boat. The more exposure their workers have to different ways of thinking, the better and stronger they can build their own ideas. An unchallenged plan isn’t much of a plan at all. It’s dead in the water.

Like a soggy sandwich.

Disintegrating with the tide.

Wow, that’s disgusting.

3. They Find Inconsistencies

INTP leaders are skilled at finding incongruencies in their system or otherwise. And they should be skilled in this area: they probably even created the very system they critique others for using incorrectly. INTPs are so particular about how even a single word is used that they want everything to be broken down to its core before being brought back up again. Linda V. Berens and Dario Nardi note in The 16 Personality Types: Descriptions for Self-Discovery that “[INTP] talents lie in grasping the underlying principles of something and defining its essential qualities” (34). No hinge is unchecked when it comes to articulating a need with clarity.

These ballas can’t help but shoot three-pointers.

…let’s not actually take an INTP to a basketball court though.

For your safety.

Hello, stereotype nation.

My bad.

I meant for their safety.

In their leadership roles, INTPs will help others comb through their designs, plans, and so on. They want their workers to have all the tools they need to take their ideas where they want to go. Maybe the INTP leader is helping their research lab come up with new methods for bacteria exploration. Or maybe they’re working at a hair salon, experimenting with different dyes in order to produce something otherworldly. Wherever they are, INTP leaders are making sure their work stays true to its underlying principles.

4. They Dislike Large Emotional Ripples

INTP leader may experience negative kickback when they attempt to manage the emotive sphere. INTPs, unlike INFP leaders, can easily articulate how someone has done something wrong and why. However, it’s the emotional effect that INTPs don’t find their strong suit. Quelling the worries and aggravations of those around them isn’t a task they necessarily like or know how to handle.
Let’s say Janet comes into work on Friday having broken up with her long-term boyfriend Denice and she starts immediately lighting company paperwork on fire.

Heartbreak ain’t pretty, friends.

The mental gymnastics that Feeler types might have regarding this situation could look a bit like the following: Do I try to talk Janet down? What’s going to work? Did she even love him though? Do I bring up the break-up? What if she’s touchy?


INTP leader: I’ll just pull the fire alarm.

Nice bedside manner there, doctor.

The INTP leader needs to find a way to convey their support to their staff. Nobody likes drama in the workplace, but chaos is bound to happen when you stick humans together for any length of time. It might be helpful for the INTP leader to consult the Feelers around them when it comes to the emotional hardship of one of their employees.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Do you have any insights or experiences to share? Let us know in the comments! You can also find out much more about the INTP in Personality Hacker’s INTP eCourse!

Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type, The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer, or The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic. You can also connect with Jami via Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter!

About the Author:

Jami Cannon is an MBTI® enthusiast who hopes to shed more light on the SJ experience. She holds a very stereotypical degree in History (MA) and loves to learn all she can about the people around her.

Other Articles You Might Enjoy:

The Flirting Style of the INTP Personality Type

What It Means to be an INTP Personality Type

Inspiring Morning Routines for INTPs, INTJs, ENTPs and ENTJs

Get an in-depth and humorous look at the strengths and struggles of the #INTP leader. #MBTI #Personality

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  1. Found this article interesting, thanks for the topic. I’d agree that yes INTPs can lead, but (in my experience at least) it may not be sustainable for them long term, unless they are able to choose their team carefully.

    One thing that I’ve realized really stresses me out (as an INTP) is feeling responsible for the quality of other people’s work. So yeah, if I can cultivate a team of people I trust, who get my sense of humor, it’s cool. If not – I sometimes subconsciously revert to a (shadow type?) ENTJ and get barky at people. (Or, as in your example above: “F- it, I’ll just pull the fire alarm.”)

    However, I do often find myself informally leading groups of coworkers. I work in a project-based industry, and when I find a boss who I like working for, I end up instinctively using Ne to motivate colleagues and Ti to help ensure accuracy in the project. But because I don’t feel ultimate responsibility for the final outcome, I still have the mental & emotional reserves available to do it in a more collaborative and fun way.

    Years ago, on a forum, someone posted that INTPs prefer being “the power behind the throne”, which I agree with. Less stressful and allows a little more introversion & processing time. That’s my preferred power place, the difficulty is often in finding a worthy leader. Or, more particularly, finding a worthy leader who recognizes the value an INTP can bring.

    In my case that value includes: seeing future complexities and pulling together potential solutions, leading by example, and also appreciating good leadership by reality-checking others (and myself!) by remembering that we don’t want to take too much advantage.

    Also, in challenging circumstances or the face of outright stupidity, I’ve definitely been the one sent in to deal with stuff that just needed a “Hell no.” response.

    And, incidentally my favorite bosses so far have been two NFs and one ESFJ (who might be leaning toward an N).

    1. My case exactly. Though I haven’t found yet ‘that’ boss that entices me to use my creative mindset; the current one’s close compared to previous bosses but competence-wise, far from it. I also mostly prefer being behind-the-scenes as it lays off a bit of the responsibility and leaves me to be less serious in dealing with colleagues.

  2. Like Dana’s comments. I like NF for business too. Their immediate emotional insight is calming, though their lack of seeing the obvious flaws in their logic can be frustrating when communicating. Has to be a mutual respect and understanding of intelligence and strengths for all to go well. Won’t have any man-splaining here…and I’m no feminist. I’m an allist.

    The biggest issues in leading are being late chronically and not delegating or getting people to do the work. And then you have the hater employees, because we’re not so involved in the little things, we’re confused for being heartless (so not true; turn on emotion..turn off brain, pick one or the other—choose wisely).

    Like this article. Thanks for the reminder, so needed right now.

  3. I find that I relate to pretty much everything in this article. Thank you. It made me laugh.

    I get the power behind the throne position others mentioned above. I feel that. I also find that how much of a leadership role I feel comfortable with is dependent upon the context. In my current career (dream job), I feel very comfortable taking a leadership role; but I do it in the way that is outlined above. I am relatively hands off, albeit just a few steps, email, phone call away. I also have thrived under mentorship that is relatively hands off, but within earshot. I think I was fortunate in finding another INTP leader as a mentor after whom I could model my own management style. Most often though, I find myself put into leadership positions by my peers. I would say the majority of folks in my field are introverts. So no one really wants to jump at those opportunities.

    When it comes to the emotional stuff, I have been working on that. I do have strong empathy, so that helps; but I’m still very direct and objective. I also think that I subconsciously hire people that are compatible with my management/leadership styles; which has made for a rewarding leadership experience and an open, welcoming, and positive work culture. Everyone’s opinion/ideas matter, which includes volunteers, interns, research technicians, and myself.

  4. I apologize in advance, but I’m an INTP and can’t help myself…. I really enjoyed this article, but I’ve one small correction. You use the word “repour” but I believe you meant “rapport”. Don’t get me wrong, as an INTP that goes home after work socially exhausted, I love to pour and repour myself some wine, so maybe this was what you were daydreaming about at the time. I can totally get on board with that, and I’ve only been at work for a half hour, and it’s only 9:30 am. 😁

  5. I was called Machiavellian once – one of the highest compliments to me – an INTP has no greater honor than to lead from behind.

  6. I am an INTP and proud of it. I’m the CEO of a company I founded over 35 years ago that’s still going strong [usually]. I agree with several previous comments in that I don’t really want to be the CEO, unfortunately, since I started the company, I was forced into the role. 😉 The only way I could survive this is to have a management team that pays attention to the details because when I have to, few people in the company like my questions; i.e. I can come across – to them – as inquisitive [as in Spanish Inquisition questioning style] and intimidating [even thought I have repeatedly told them I AM NOT BEING THAT WAY, SO GET OVER IT!]. As I review my history, it’s amazing we’ve lasted 35 years 🤔😂😂😂😂

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