Cognitive Processes and Tandem Dynamics


Adapted from Dario Nardi, 8 Keys to Self Leadership: From Awareness to Action*Used with permission.


Excerpted from Chapter 11: From Awareness to Action

Support the Growth Process

cover of 8 keys to self leadership

Self-leadership is more than developing cognitive processes. Research into the lives of happy, successful people reveals core attitudes and activities that maintain openness to learning and growing. Consider how you can incorporate each of the general activities below into your life to keep growing


As an Individual...

  • Take responsibility for life choices as ongoing commitments.
  • Keep learning and increasing your options by exploring new tools and new resources.
  • Orient yourself to make creative contributions to your profession.
  • Identify and trust your personal creative process, and act on moments of peak energy, creativity, and performance as they come up.
  • Engage in the business of living life in multiple areas at once.



As a Leader...

  • Lead across different, opposing groups and in multiple spheres of life instead of leading one group against another.
  • Heed the call to make sacrifices for the welfare of all sides of a dispute.
  • Help others lead in their own way.
  • Allow peace and conflict to coexist by putting into place checks and balances.
  • Maintain daily self-testing for humility.



In her writings, Isabel Myers identified other common qualities among high-functioning individuals regardless of their cognitive preferences:

  • Confidence in the skill and meaningfulness of our preferences. This requires that we know who we are.
  • Willingness to shift, to explore, and engage our nonpreferred processes. This means we are open to being who we are not.
  • Stamina to continue in the face of failure and obstacles, from rejection of who we are to mistakes we make as we develop.


These qualities are not exclusive to particular processes. Consider ways to develop confidence, flexibility, and stamina in your life.

Engage Processes in Tandem for Powerful Results

Each of the cognitive processes can be used with its opposite in a tandem relationship (see page 20.) At first a process and its "opposite" may feel in tension with each other, but with practice you will discover ways to use them together effectively. As you develop a process, you can draw on the examples below to enhance your use and create powerful results.

Extraverted Sensing

We can get powerful results using extraverted Sensing in tandem with introverted Intuiting. We can be very tuned in to the surrounding environment, with anticipation of what's coming next. We may constantly read our industry's current news to be sure to catch the next wave of innovations. Or we can engage people in fun activities, drawing them out and helping them transform themselves. We might pull a shy person onto the dance floor, convinced that there is an inner dancer waiting to be released; that person experiences his or her potential firsthand. Or we might shape the current context to what we envision it can be, like a sculptor who can "see" the final statue within a chunk of marble and sculpts everything else away to get to it.

Introverted Sensing

We can get impressive results using introverted Sensing in tandem with extraverted Intuiting. We might have a keen awareness of what has come before and link that knowledge to what might be. This might involve drawing upon a wealth of past experience and sifting through what is known to discover patterns; for example, researching the history of a place in great detail to solve a lingering mystery. We might use allegories from traditional fantasy to pass on important standards and values to the next generation, or read mystery novels as a way to relax from the daily grind of work. A little imagination, fantasy, or humor can lighten our daily routine or help make a long-term relationship more enjoyable. Seeing positive possibilities also reassures us when a situation is unstable.

Extraverted Intuiting

We can get impressive results using extraverted Intuiting in tandem with introverted Sensing. We might interpret the meaning of a situation by relating it to images from the past. We see a pattern in the present moment, and in addition to imagining alternative scenarios we draw upon our memories of the past. This recollection enables us to explore many more situations at once. Similarly, an academic researcher might do extensive research and book study of those who have come before while exploring a theoretical problem. We might embrace the convenience of supportive institutions so that we can live more freely in a world of ideas. We might even dream up a novel way to do something and then establish it as a new tradition or reliable standard for society.

Introverted Intuiting

We can get impressive results using introverted Intuiting in tandem with extraverted Sensing. We might try out various tangible experiences and activities to catalyze realizations for growth. The more varied and undigested experiences one has, the more material there is for the unconscious to draw upon. We might look inward to envision how we can transform something, then gather data and take actions to realize that goal-to make real what is envisioned. For example, we might visualize how people will one day journey into space, and then take the actions necessary to design and build a spaceship to accomplish that goal. This might take many years of action, including activities to sustain the vision. Another tandem relationship involves engaging in a physical activity so that body, mind, and environment merge to become one, perhaps experiencing a great sense of calm or energy.

Extraverted Thinking

We can get impressive results using extraverted Thinking in tandem with introverted Feeling. We might sequence and prioritize based on objective measures while following beliefs about what's important. If there isn't enough time in the day to do everything we want, we may select those things that matter most to us. Or perhaps, while trying to make a decision, we discover that the available evidence isn't enough to convince us one way or another. Until we get more evidence, we go with what we believe to be true. Being in touch with what we believe in motivates us to use willpower and to follow a procedure or task through to completion. We might structure an organization or system to be as fair as possible, honoring individual identities.

Introverted Thinking

We can get impressive results using introverted Thinking in tandem with extraverted Feeling. We might draw on a nugget of reasoning or theoretical framework to make adjustments for the welfare of others or the good of the group. Applying principles of human behavior and applying leverage at key points can help us to manage divergent values, feelings, and opinions. We might nurture relationships with a network of respected peers while clarifying a framework, or disclose personal data to gain clarity and precision for a topic. Or we might feel passionate about the value of people everywhere learning to use a particular framework as a problem-solving tool to improve human relationships. We communicate this framework to others as a helpful gift.

Extraverted Feeling

We can get impressive results using extraverted Feeling in tandem with introverted Thinking. We can connect with others by following guidelines about appropriate behavior. We may follow principles of fair play or the Golden Rule-a general framework for all our transactions with others. We might locate leverage points in a situation to help everyone get what they need in the most affirming and fair way possible, or leverage our range of social contacts to get help or to interact with someone we wouldn't normally have access to. Or we might mediate a dispute between two parties: we observe from multiple angles to fully see every side and give a fair hearing as we fit their claims with a framework to arrive at a decision.

Introverted Feeling

We can get impressive results using introverted Feeling in tandem with extraverted Thinking. We can stay true to our beliefs by structuring our lives and standing firm with what's important. We might decide against purchasing a particular product that harms the environment, and then arrange our lives or the organization we lead to make do without it. We might refer to evidence and empirical reasoning to support what we believe is true. Maybe we hold fast to the idea that all people bring useful gifts to society, then construct a sorter or a metric and gather data to demonstrate this value. Or we might use time-management and spatial organization skills to better follow through on important commitments and worthwhile projects.


Adapted from Dario Nardi, 8 Keys to Self Leadership: From Awareness to Action*Used with permission.



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