Temperament theory was introduced by Hippocrates in 370 BC and through the centuries has taken various forms and had varied degrees of popularity.
It is founded on the idea that four essentially different personality patterns can be distinguished.
American psychologist, David Keirsey, introduced in his book, Please Understand Me (1978), a link between Temperament theory and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and called the four temperaments Artisan, Guardian, Idealist and Rationalist. In the last 20 years American psychologist and prolific author, Linda Berens, has made various additions to Keirsey’s concepts and renamed the four temperaments in the context of their specific role in organizations as: Improviser, Stabilizer, Catalyst and Theorist.
I will use Keirsey’s terms, as they are still the best known.
The usefulness of temperament theory for XIPs lies in the linking of temperament to personal drives/motivations and values, making the effects of their possible developments visible in a comprehensive way.
Of course, classification into four temperaments is a rough and ready method, but the four temperaments are so fundamentally different that this rough division still proves to be useful. It may occur that XIPs in our practice discover that they actually fit with another temperament than they had always thought and acted upon.
Comparison of the four temperaments
There are different approaches to distinguishing the temperaments. In this description, intelligence is chosen as the distinguishing factor.
Effectiveness, acting here and now, freedom.
Artisans possess tactical intelligence; they work on applied Mastery with both feet on the ground. They are practical, charming, in the here and now, love to improvise, are decisive, and aim to achieve maximum effectiveness in everything they do. They hate being bored and like to keep all options open.
Responsibility, structuring, part of a group.
Guardians possess logistic intelligence; they are good at thinking up rules, procedures, schemes and such, and at sticking to them. They aim to be timely prepared for what can be expected of them and are experts in creating organizational stability. They try to fit in and adopt socially correct behaviour based on solid knowledge, preferably backed up by qualifications. They trust hierarchical structures.
Development, being empathic, meaning.
Idealists have diplomatic intelligence; they focus on people and concern themselves with the deeper meaning of their own thinking, feeling and behaving, as well as that of others. Their strong points are their ability to reflect, their self-awareness and empathy. They would like everyone to develop in his/her very own way.
Competence, being in control, knowledge.
Rationalists have strategic intelligence; they are able to oversee innumerable long-term possibilities in a calm manner, determine their strategic goal and take the most efficient path to reach that goal. They are allergic to constantly recurring mistakes, are creators of science and are competent “chess players” in mentally complex situations.