Guardians At The Gate

Today's Temperament is the Guardian.

Recall that Guardians - or SJs - tend to be concrete in their thinking and communication and cooperative in their use of tools. As a result, they tend to excel at logistics. The Guardian bucket contains a smaller bucket for each of the four MBTI SJ variants:

  • Administrating Supervisor (ESTJ), enforcing regulations and procedures and meting out consequences when they are ignored. They see their business as minding other people's business, ensuring that everyone is following the rules.
  • Administrating Inspector (ISTJ), checking to ensure that every last item is checked and measured and certified and any deviations reported as appropriate. Assessors, auditors, and surveyors are prime examples of this subtemperament.
  • Conserving Provider (ESFJ), intently focused on ensuring everyone has everything they need to live and enjoy their life. Bankers, caterers, distributors - anyone who spends their time supplying other people with what they need is a Provider.
  • Conserving Protector (ISFJ), sheltering others from all that is bad and dangerous. Typical roles include custodians, ombudsmen, and stewards.

More generally, the administrator SJs take charge and tell people what to do, with the extroverted Supervisors focusing more on people while the introverted Inspectors spend their time with things. The conservator SJs, being friendly rather than toughminded, prefer to give information and aid rather than order people about.

Just as each temperament has a predisposition towards or against strategy, tactics, diplomacy, and logistics but have greater or lesser skill in the areas as well, each of the four Guardian variants have some facility with the roles of the other variants. The introvert and extrovert roles can fairly easily switch sides, but it tends to be much harder for a thinker to swap over to a feeling role, and vice versa. Even so, Guardians are likely to be much better at all four roles than they are with tactics, diplomacy, or strategy.

Guardians are fascinated by commerce, where the world meets to exchange and evaluate each other's goods and services. While other temperaments may have some interest in commerce, Guardians see commerce as a vital part of being able to earn their keep and pay their way. Fittingly, they have a distinct interest in all things materiel - gathering, storing, and distributing supplies of every kind.

Guardians are very concerned with morality and often feel responsible when a family member, classmate, or friend heads off in a direction the Guardians feels is Not Right. They believe strongly in Hard Work and Saving. If a job needs done the Guardian does it - even if they would rather not - because they see doing it as their duty. Perhaps because Guardians see trouble everywhere they can be quite pessimistic about the future - Be Prepared, because it certainly won't get any better and it probably will get worse - and fatalistic about the past - stuff happens, just because. They prefer to station themselves at the gate, where they can best guard against all undesirables, comfort those in need, and ensure that everything is running the way it should. They are concerned about everything - their families, their communities, the price of gas, that the dishes got done. They implicitly trust authority, with their most secret desire being to become a respected head of a respected institution or organization.

Where Artisans are focused on today and Idealists look towards tomorrow, Guardians live more in the past, guarding the traditions and customs that have helped them and theirs live and survive. They base their self-image on being dependable, the rock that everyone else can build upon; on doing good deeds for others (here's a hint for getting along with Guardians at the holidays - offer to help them clean up after the big feast; your offer will be appreciated but almost certainly graciously denied); and on being seen by others as the ultimate in respectability. One of their deepest wishes is to belong - that person you know who is a member of every club you've ever heard of and quite a few you haven't likely is a Guardian. While Guardians are happy - driven, almost - to take care of everyone, they can be quite put off if those everyones don't show their appreciation and gratitude for that care.

Guardian leaders tend to be a stabilizing influence. Their penchant for rules and regulations and schedules and standard operating procedures helps ensure that things get done when, where, and how they need to get done.

I'm an INTJ, but just barely an iNtuitive and so I have strong Sensing tendencies as well, making me an almost-Guardian. I struggle mightily against it, but a belief that rules are there for a reason and should be followed is deep-set in my psyche. Except of course in those situations where my Rationalist and almost-Artisan tendencies take over and say to hang the rules!

*** Want a fun job on a great team? I need a tester! Interested? Let's talk: Michael dot J dot Hunter at microsoft dot com. Great coding skills required.

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