Temperament in the Workplace: The 5 W’s of Guardians

Temperament in the Workplace: The 5 W’s of Guardians

Today, I’m welcoming Gary Benton, Myers-Briggs practitioner, back to the blog. Today, he’s going to continue talking about temperament – an aspect of Myers-Briggs that a lot of people don’t know about. To read up on his previous blogs on the Artisan temperament, click here. To read up on his previous blogs on Myers-Briggs in business, click here, here, here and here. He has two others on fitting in at work and leadership you can read about too!

Thankfully, we have David Keirsey, a psychologist and student counselor who did excellent work in distilling personality theory down to the level of what is practical and observable. Keirsey divides the sixteen personalities into four groups that focus on two areas: how we communicate and how we pursue goals. The groups are: Artisans, Guardians, Rationals, and Idealists. Each week we will cover one of these temperaments and gain some insight into how these types can best be understood, loved, supported, and motivated in the workplace.

The Guardian

Who they are: Guardians are the protectors of society, both in caring for people and maintaining the health of institution. They correspond to the Myers-Briggs types ISFJ, ESFJ, ISTJ, and ESTJ. They prefer Utilitarian ways of communication but are Cooperative in pursuing their goals. This means, in a word, rules. Guardians care deeply about the rules of society—whether those be rules of safety or rules of how to treat one another.

What they bring: Guardians bring to the table the gifts of stewardship alongside a strong sense of duty and responsibility. They excel with the stuff of institutions: the resources, the procedures, the equipment, and the people. Guardians bring order wherever they go, and if put in an unstable or unstructured situation, they will do their best to create that order. Because they prefer cooperation, Guardians tend to be engaging and positive forces on a team—as long as the tasks are getting done and nobody is stepping too far out of line.

When they deliver: Guardians prefer to work as part of a structured team. When there is work to be done, they will prove dedicated, focused, and able, as long as they are working in the right conditions. If there are clear procedures, set schedules, a clear communication of who is in charge, and a team that is willing to collaborate and also play by the rules, Guardians will bring out their best and help keep everything working in order.

Where to find them: Guardians especially tend towards managing resources and helping standardize the policies and procedures of an institution, be that as a secretary or a CFO. However, Guardians can be found almost anywhere in a workplace, as they are often happy to do tasks that other types might skip over. To the Guardian, getting stuff done efficiently with a good team and helping strengthen the institution is a reward in itself. You’ll also find guardians as homemakers, managers of small businesses (especially ones that require attention to detail and schedule, such as a bakery), and commonly in the military .

Why they’re important: Given that Guardians are almost 45% of the population, you’ll really find them everywhere—quietly keeping their duties and helping everything run smoothly. Guardians are gifted as stewards and maintainers. They are indispensable in companies that have reached a size where properties, resources, finances, human resources, and the like, all start to demand increased attention. Much is made of the importance of innovation in business, and Guardians provide innovation in standardization: they figure out how to keep everything and everyone working as efficiently as possible.

Do: Pay attention to the environment of a Guardian, and you won’t have to worry about the quality of their work. Make sure they have team players and enough structure so that they can feel safe and confident in doing their part.

Don’t: Stick Guardians in abstract vision-casting meetings for hours unless you want someone who is going to push for direct application and practical methods of carrying out what, for you, may exist only theoretically. Also, don’t expect them to adapt well to a rude or anti-social environment. For Guardians, the rules of conduct matter as much as those of practice.

Next week we will cover the Rationals: the big brains and visionaries behind ambitious tasks. As always feel free to email me with any questions at Gbenton15@gmail.com. Thanks!


To discover your type, take the Myers-Briggs test here: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp. Share your temperament in the comments!

Billy Epperhart
Billy Epperhart
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