Apr 3, 2008

Socionic Types and Professional Inclinations

Here I want to talk about career patterns I have observed among types. My sample sizes are too small to draw far-reaching conclusions, but my observations so far make sense from the standpoint of Model A.

A large percentage of people do basically random jobs that any type with the same basic skill set could do, so I will ignore those and pay attention only to the patterns and especially professional positions where people of the type seem to be particularly engaged.

A common thread is that people tend to become leaders of organizations whose overt purpose closely matches their leading function, for instance:

  • extraverted sensing types -- controlling material assets and resources
  • extraverted intuition -- information hubs, directing development of potential
  • extraverted ethics -- engaging in social and entertainment networks
  • extraverted logic -- managing and increasing production output
  • introverted intuition -- guiding imaginative creative and spiritual endeavors
  • introverted logic -- overseeing systems of knowledge and governance
  • introverted sensing -- providing well-being and balance
  • introverted ethics -- educating and enculturating

ILEs like to be doing things that are new and innovative that many people don't know (or care) about. Here they are different from IEEs, who are also concerned about doing something that people care about that will win them social recognition. ILEs are more interested in formal recognition (organizational recognition, positions of "importance," degrees, and professional awards, for instance). I have known ILEs who were heads of research institutes, NGOs, language teaching schools, and consulting companies. Many more held various positions in all kinds of organizations where they had a great deal of independence. The common feature of all engaged ILEs seems to be that they are working on some far-reaching personal project that has yet to come to full fruition. ILEs don't like to manage tangible assets, so they generally avoid accumulating them, preferring instead to stock up on intellectual property, unique skills and knowledge, intellectual influence, and strategic positions. The potential to make money is more important than actually having money.

If we ignore "unengaged" SEIs who are in random jobs, we see that SEIs tend to gravitate to artistic pursuits in the most general sense of the word -- visual arts, culinary arts, design, the healing arts, humor, etc. Even in your typical stale office environment, they tend to find niches for this "artistic" expression, even if it is as mundane as e-mailing funny pictures and stories to other office workers. The common trait of all engaged SEIs seems to be that they have found ways to impact and steer people's interaction through their creative activities. Whereas introverted ethics types are more concerned with impacting people's lives (an "internal" sort of steering), SEIs and other extraverted ethics types seem to focus more on enlivening people and generating stimulating interaction. They may hope to impact people as well, but the road to this is through overt emotional communication among people -- bringing people's sentiments and emotions out in the open. Compared to ILEs SEIs seem much less interested in the strategic position or formal recognition and must have a more intimate connection with the people they serve.

ESEs are more expansive than SEIs and are more motivated to bring their messages to the masses and be known among a wider group of people, even if that means spending a lot less quality time per person (SEIs tend to invest more in a smaller number of people, because their leading introverted sensing makes them identify more with their day-to-day life activities; if you're not a part of that day-to-day life, then they connect less with you). ESEs can connect rapidly with people who express the same sentiments as they. The professional activity of engaged ESEs very often boils down to going around expressing sentiments and continually connecting with others who feel similarly. Their passion can be attached to nearly any field, but it always seems to be something that can have a direct impact on people's emotional life or well-being. ESEs especially like to start new social endeavors. I have known ESEs who led social networks, ESE entertainers, and many who were excellent communicators and linguists. Engaged ESEs seem to be somewhat less focused on their actual professional activity and knowledge and more on conveying the impact and passion of that activity and knowledge to others.

Compared to ILEs, LIIs are less expansive, and their interests and personal projects tend to be a lot more closely aligned with their main field of activity. Or rather, they tend to choose professions that are right where their interests and convictions lie. Whereas ILEs can explain discrepancies between their long-term interests and their work ("because I'm learning something new"), LIIs would see this as a terrible mistake (key decisions should be made with introverted logic, not extraverted intuition). So they tend to identify strongly with their chosen field of activity and the views they espouse within it and feel distraught and rudderless if they have not yet found their correct professional "alliance" (unless they are in their teens, of course). I have known engaged LII organizational managers as well as analysts, scientists (mostly theoreticians), humanities professors and thinkers, and people of arts. In each case they have possessed some system of knowledge and have tried to instill their views through their organizational position.

EIEs, like ESEs, simply must have work with a high social component to feel engaged. I have known EIEs in recruiting, PR, politics, art-related fields (again, in the loose sense of the word), and teaching the humanities and arts, among others. Compared to ESEs, EIEs seem to have a greater sense of their status in society and have a greater need to align themselves professional in a way that will raise their status and bring them closer to centers of power and decision-making. This means exercising a lot of foresight, developing a long-term plan, and choosing their alliances carefully. EIEs in their profession have a need to rub shoulders with those who wield power and influence; ESEs are often content being a favorite of kids, a friend to everyone they meet, and building a reputation as an exciting and stimulating person, even if their fame exceeds that of a more calculating or long-term oriented EIE. EIEs often "work" for their alliance -- whether material or cultural -- by being a mouthpiece of its cultural values and instilling these values in others.

LSIs generally strive for organizational influence (except perhaps those whose maternal role takes first seat) and decision-making powers. They know they have what it takes to make organizational decisions and keep track of all parts of the organization. Psychologically engaged LSIs seem to be within or at the head of organizations with a clear structure whose purpose is not so much production as administration and management. Even if their profession is arts, humanities, or science related, they emphasize and deal with the organizational aspect of it as they become more and more successful. I have met many LSIs who were heads of all sorts of organizations which wielded real authority (as opposed to, say, NGOs), probably because the LSIs cared most; their level of self-identification with their position and organization is high. I have seen LSIs as heads of administrative organizations, government bodies, universities, etc. In these positions LSIs strive to increase their organizations' clout and status.

...to be continued (yeah, you've heard that one before)