Coaching via Nature and Nurture


The 9 SaboteursLook at this nasty bunch of characters. If you caught Jane’s 2019 session on Saboteurs—or our joint 2018 sessions in Brisbane and Auckland—they should look familiar. If not, their names say it all. Have you met a “Stickler” or a “Victim”? Or any of the others? If you’re curious about your own Saboteurs, take the free 5-minute assessment at to find out how you tend to meet your very human needs for independence, acceptance, and security.

And when you do, we’re placing bets that your first reaction will be, “But this makes me sound awful! And…dang, it explains those icky moments when I know I’m being petulant, judgmental, whiney, obstinate, exacting…help!”  Or you might say, “Hmm. What’s wrong with having a Hyper-Achiever [or Controller or any of the others] side? That’s a strength!”

Then you might start wondering how this relates to personality type. Can your type predict the nature of your Saboteurs? Well, let’s do a little experiment. Below are results from three of our clients. Which is the ENFP, based on the names of their top three Saboteurs compared with the typical struggles ENFPs experience?

Client 1 Hyper Achiever Restless Controller
Client 2 Restless Avoider Hyper Achiever
Client 3 Hyper-Achiever Pleaser Hyper Vigilant

And the answer is? All three are ENFPs.  What (if anything) surprised you about that?

Let’s consider how in Psychological Types, Jung put forth that since from infancy we show disposition toward the types, the preferences he described are based in biology—our nature.

And let’s recall the statement attributed to Isabel Myers, “Every ENFP [or any other type] is like every other ENFP, is like some other ENFPs, is like no other ENFP.” Type doesn’t explain everything.

As we reflect back on decades of coaching using type concepts, sometimes the variance within type proved roadblocks for clients, both in identifying best-fit type and in employing the power of type to take the sting out of dealing with blind spots and negative feedback. You’ve probably had client reactions similar to, “I can’t be an ENFP. I’m known for following through.” We often probe how they developed skills that helped them avoid type-based “traps.” There are many ways our experiences nurture the way our type develops. In this session, we will be talking about one significant part of it, namely how we get in our own way.

When we began adding Saboteurs to type in 2015, explaining variances in type became so much simpler. The ENFP Controller has a very different approach to follow-through than an ENFP who has the Saboteurs we might expect such as Restless and Avoider and Pleaser, for example. Clients can see the relationship to their strengths (such as an ENFP Controller pointing to skills learned for meeting deadlines) and also recognize how over-using a Saboteur leads to unpleasant consequences (such as trying to control things that can’t be controlled).

Most interesting to us, though, is an emerging pattern in the data we have collected so far. Our database of about 200 people from several countries with verified best-fit type preferences shows that people with some personality preferences are more likely to report Saboteurs that align with the common ones for their type. For example, 90 percent of the ISFJs in our database have Stickler as their top Saboteur, and they are twice as likely to have that Saboteur as anyone randomly chosen from those in our database (according to self-selection ratios). In contrast, the top Saboteur for ENFPs was Restless, but only 40 percent of ENFPs had it as their top Saboteur. This aligns with how we might picture ENFPs, and they are also twice as likely to report this Saboteur as anyone randomly chosen from the database, but there is more variety in the top Saboteurs for ENFPs. Here’s one way to look at the data:

  • 90% share the same top Saboteur: ISFJ
  • 80% share the same top saboteur: ISTJ
  • 60% share the same top Saboteur: ESFJ
  • 40-50% share the same top Saboteur: INTJ, ISTP, INTP, ESFP, ENFP, ESTJ, ENFJ
  • >40% share the same top Saboteur: INFJ, ISFP, INFP, ESTP, ENTP, ENTJ

What might the explanation be? How about nurture? Questions we have include, Do different Saboteurs develop if cultures do or don’t reinforce type preferences? What about families of origin? Varying school environments? What else can you think of? While we might ask the same questions about personality type in verification sessions, the vivid and user-friendly names of the Saboteurs often brings faster “aha’s.”

With every type, adding Saboteurs has increased self-awareness and, because they describe our unproductive ways of getting our needs met, often decreases any tendencies to use type preferences as excuses for behaviors. And, the “mental fitness” program we employ with Saboteurs—daily practice that builds your positive intelligence, which is closely related to how we think of emotional intelligence—decreases stress, unconscious biases, and other negative factors while increasing empathy, creativity, perspective-taking, and more.

Join us for our BAPT 2021 session as we explore melding type (nature) and Saboteurs (nurture) in what has truly been life-changing for the two of us and for our clients!

About the Authors

Jane Kise & Ann HolmJane Kise (INFJ) is an author of over 25 books and a consultant with over 25 years of experience working with type concepts. Her passion involves doing anything ethical to help schools embrace type. She also does leadership coaching.

Ann C Holm (ENFP) is a Professional Certified Coach specializing in executive, career, and personal development. She is a an MBTI Master Practitioner and is known for her extensive experience of the MBTI Step III. She also has 25 years of experience in applied brain science, using her hands on experiences to help her coaching clients understand how to stay focused, be engaged, and energized given the demands of the 21st century workplace.

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