Top 5 Procurement Personalities Revealed and Why Some Will Surprise You – Part 1

When I was originally formulating this simple personality poll, I was expecting one personality style would prove dominant in procurement. It indeed came in at No. 3 on the list of 16 different possible personality types, but the rest of the top 5 were more surprising. I wrote about the top personality style already, but wanted to give a little more detail on the top 5 styles that actually make up more than 60% of procurement professionals, based on the nearly 2,000 that we polled. I found the results somewhat surprising and will offer some insights to these generally frustrated and overworked leaders.

In my first article on this topic, I cited the The Wall Street Journal article that discussed a similar study done on chief information officers where the vast majority of them were ISTJ’s (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging): logistically oriented “duty fulfillers” that knew what was right and generally how to get it done. These are people who know how to execute. As the Myers Briggs website explains them, they are: “Quiet, serious, earn success by thoroughness and dependability. Practical, matter-of-fact, realistic, and responsible. Decide logically what should be done and work toward it steadily, regardless of distractions.” Eleven percent of procurement folks make up this group, which is in line with the general population based on Myers Briggs research shown here and in the following graph:

Procurement Folks are Natural Born Leaders!


What’s interesting is that the ISTJs and the top-ranking ESTJs (Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging), who also are top ranked in salary – even outside procurement, are both xSTJ’s. These 2 of the 16 styles make up a third of procurement professionals! Diving deeper, an xSTJ:

  • Takes in information through Sensing (they are concrete, realistic, practical, experiential, and traditional rather than abstract, imaginative, conceptual, theoretical or original)
  • Thinks about a problem by being logical, reasonable, critical, questioning and tough rather than using a Feeling approach of being empathic, compassionate, accepting, accommodating, and tender. Procurement folks are definitely “thinky” more than “feely”
  • Lives a “Judging” (not the best term in my opinion – I think “deliberate” is better) lifestyle that is structured, systematic, scheduled, early starting and methodical rather than spontaneous, emergent, casual, open ended and pressure prompted.

So, procurement folks are fact-based thinkers who like to proactively plan and execute – even if the approach they are using is not optimal/flexible. Some are more introverted, but generally, procurement professionals are extroverts (65% of them). This is actually encouraging in that they work outwardly to engage internally stakeholders, suppliers and their industry peers.

*As a side note, keep in mind though that people are not just one or the other. It’s like saying that you need to agree with every single position on an issue in your chosen political party if you have one. This is why we captured the 4 personality variables on a 1-100 sliding scale. In fact, procurement folks were nearly evenly split between “Sensing” and “iNtuition” modes of taking in information. Both are valid and valuable. Read Thinking, Fast and Slow for more information on these 2 different types of thinking systems.

What about the rest of the top 5 personalities? In the next edition of this multi-part series, we’ll dive into them and the implications.

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