The ISFP personality type is someone with Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving personality traits. These people are open-minded and comfortable in their own skin.
ISFP types are curious and expressive. They are always looking for their next adventure. They fully embrace the varied experiences of life.
ISFPs are warm, interested, and interesting. They are non-judgmental and find joy in the uniqueness of individuals. They often have a wide range of interests and hobbies.
5.3% of the global population are ISFPs amongst the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types.
ISFPs value creativity. They are genuinely interested in the contribution of each of their teammates. This makes them great team players. They are also good at facilitating harmony within a team by supporting others to see the value in differences.
People with the ISFP personality type don’t enjoy conflict, however. It jars with their easy-going nature and can cause them to disconnect. ISFPs are thoughtful and highly perceptive. This means they can carry the weight of other people’s emotions. ISFPs may feel upset if they’re judged harshly or criticized.
ISFPs are flexible and tolerant. This makes them highly adaptable to changing environments. They can thrive in uncertainty. They happily change their routines, processes, and ways of working to meet the needs of the business.
Conversely, ISFPs can feel stifled by rigidity, which dampens their carefree nature. ISFPs dislike being tied down by rules. They may feel challenged in roles where they have to adhere to stringent processes.
ISFPs tend to live in the moment. This means they can find the setting and achieving of goals more difficult than other personality types. ISFPs don’t like to take too much of a long-term view. They prefer to embrace what each day holds. Roles where they're given a broad remit to work autonomously and to their own schedule are likely to suit them best.
ISFPs are independent and free-spirited. They find a lot of enjoyment in social interaction. They find beauty in the uniqueness of people. This means they love socializing with groups of different people where they can appreciate the variety of life.
ISFPs need to be aware of their Introverted trait and ensure they balance these interactions with time on their own. At work, a run of meetings coupled with networking or water cooler socializing can leave ISFPs exhausted. Ensuring there is some downtime during the work day is important for ISFPs to reconnect with themselves.
Like all of us, ISFP personality types have intrinsic traits that influence their motivation for working in a certain way and within specific work environments.
At F4S, we’ve identified 48 traits that influence motivation and energy levels. Understanding these traits can help you choose job roles, cultures, and workplace environments that will enable you to thrive.
These preferences are intrinsic. But, we don’t always have the luxury of finding a workplace or way of working that exactly matches our needs. Coaching can help you build skills and resilience when you need to perform in a work environment less suited to your preferences.
For example, our 8-week coaching program, ‘Goal Catcher’, can help ISFPs learn to set effective goals. Our program can help ISFPs get future-focused and improve their productivity without adopting an overly-rigid approach.
ISFPs are happy working both independently and within a team dynamic. Working with an ISFP can be an extremely positive experience for many people. ISFPs are quick to recognize individual contributions, which can make people feel seen.
ISFPs are also highly creative. They love generating and building on novel ideas. Their enthusiasm for trying new things can be infectious and can create high levels of energy. This positivity for change can be a great asset at the start of a new project. Other team members may need to support ISFPs to drive tasks to completion.
ISFPs don’t like to be bound by rigid deadlines and structures. If you’re relying on an ISFP to get something done, make sure you give them clear performance expectations but also the space to decide the delivery approach.
People with an ISFP personality type are sensitive to the feelings of others, whether overt or unspoken. If they feel like they’re underperforming or being judged, they can get frustrated or feel hurt.
ISFPs are receptive to feedback but try not to present it in an overly critical way. ISFPs who feel criticized are likely to retreat from the situation. They may even respond angrily if they feel they are being judged unfairly.
To get the best from an ISFP colleague, give them ‘freedom within a framework’. If you’re managing them, give them the opportunity to be successful. Allow them the space to dictate how they solve problems or deliver work. Harness their creativity for innovation projects or kickstarting business transformation.
ISFP personality types are happiest in careers where they can be creative. Like all the personality types, ISFPs can be found in a range of careers and industries.
However, they're likely to be most satisfied with career choices where they can work flexibly and creatively to solve problems. ISFPs thrive in an environment where they can enjoy a variety of experiences and ways of thinking.
The ISFP personality is prevalent in artists and designers of all types. ISFPs can also provide the vision for startups and entrepreneurial ventures. ISFPs are warm, perceptive, and non-judgmental. This means they thrive in caring professions (if they can focus long enough to obtain the required qualifications).
Top career matches for ISFPs include:
Like some other MBTI personality types, ISFJs can be sub-categorized into assertive or turbulent identities. These identities affect all of the four elements that make up an ISFP personality type.
Within the constraints of their overall type, assertive identities tend to be more confident and sure of what they have to offer the world. Turbulent identities tend to be less certain about their contributions. They may question the value of their ideas.
These two sub-categories bring a little more nuance to elements of the ISFP personality type. For example, all ISFPs need creative freedom and love to seek out novel, beautiful, or interesting things.
However, ISFP-As are more confident in pursuing artistic expression independently of the opinion of others. ISFP-Ts are more conscious of social conventions. This may lead them to modify some of their most innovative ideas in order to meet norms.
ISFP-A types are less prone to doubt. They believe strongly that their uniqueness is something to be celebrated. More sensitive ISFP-T types may sometimes question how to express their individuality while remaining connected to their more mainstream family, friends, and colleagues.
This moderation enables people with the ISFP-T sub-type to work more easily within groups and teams than ISFP-As. People with the ISFP-A subtype value their independence highly. They may feel stifled by structures, boundaries, or even the requirement for collaboration.
However, because of their warmth and charm, ISFPs are more likely to get away with refusing to conform to accepted standards. So, even ISFP-As may be forgiven for their unconventionality and be granted more leeway and grace than other personality types.
Given these nuances, let’s look at how some of the careers we mentioned above might suit the two identity sub-categories:
ISFPs thrive on novelty, innovation, and creating beauty. Contributing to the world through their artistic expression is the preferred legacy of ISFPs. They are much more likely to pursue a career that enables them to achieve this rather than care about salary.
There are some high-paying career options for ISFPs. For example, some science and healthcare roles are well-paid. The average psychologist’s salary is US$120,176. Senior environmental scientists can earn US$100,848 and occupational therapists US$93,305.
Roles within the creative arts can be both poorly and exceedingly well paid depending on the level of recognition earned. For example, the average salary for writers is US$58,753. But, famous author J.K. Rowling had annual earnings of US$92 million in 2019. Musicians within the New York Philharmonic Orchestra earn US$115,128.
Other highly-paid options include:
At F4S, we don’t think about strengths and weaknesses the same way as the MBTI test does. We believe that strengths and weaknesses are often situation-dependent. We prefer to look at what motivates you vs. what drains your energy. These elements might overlap with what Myers-Briggs describes as strengths and weaknesses, but not always.
For example, perhaps (like many ISFPs) you have a real strength in generating creative ideas for solving business problems. You thrive within an uncertain environment.
However, you often face conflict when organizational structures and processes mean taking action to implement your ideas is slower than you would like. Frustration with bureaucratic business processes can drain your energy. You're not able to use your strengths to the best effect. You may also retreat from your teammates.
Equally, perhaps there is something you love doing, that motivates and energizes you, but you’re not very skilled at it yet. It might not be considered an innate ‘strength’, but you’re way more likely to enjoy your career choice if you can find a job with some elements of that activity.
That said, here are some ISFP ’strengths and weaknesses’ as listed by MBTI:
Our Myers-Briggs personality type offers insight into our likely preferences for how we work and what kind of careers we might enjoy. However, it’s important to note that any personality type can be successful across all industries and job roles.
Our preferences may mean certain types of work and work environments are more challenging for us, but if you’re highly motivated to pursue a particular career path, there’s no reason you can’t excel.
Motivation is personal and complicated. There can be both internal and external drivers for motivation. Increased self-awareness helps you identify the internal traits that drive your preferences for how, where, and when you work.
At F4S, we recommend starting with our free self-assessment to unlock insights about where your talents lie. This helps you understand how you can best harness your preferences to create a satisfying and successful career.
Sometimes there are also strong external motivating factors. For example, a lucrative pay packet, comprehensive benefits, or the ability to work from a specific location.
External motivations may result in you working in an environment that jars with your intrinsic motivation. Personal development programs and coaching can help you rachet up the skills needed to excel when working in ways less suited to your preferences.
So, if there is something you’re excited about trying, you should definitely explore it even if your MBTI result suggests you might be better suited to something else.
ISFPs thrive when working flexibly and creatively in pursuit of their passions. They care deeply about artistic freedom. They may feel stifled by rigid structures and processes. ISFPs are happy working independently to solve problems in novel ways. They also enjoy bouncing ideas off others within a small team environment.
Given this, some roles typically have work environments or approaches that may be more challenging for ISFPs. Remember, this list is just a guideline of job types you might not enjoy or find draining, it doesn’t mean you won’t excel at them.
The following careers may be less suited to ISFP personality types:
As we mentioned above, here at F4S, we’re fascinated by what motivates people. When considering leadership, it’s important to reflect on these three particular traits:
If you enjoy power and control, you will likely thrive in a leadership role. If belonging is important to you, then a leadership position may feel isolating.
ISFPs aren’t interested in exerting control over others. They also find working within hierarchical organizational structures stifling. ISFPs are unlikely to follow a traditional route to leadership roles in the C-suite.
Positions of authority within large corporates are unlikely to suit people with an ISFP personality type. But, they may thrive in a more entrepreneurial environment. For example, they may provide leadership and inspiration within a startup business where everyone has to lend a hand to get things done, no matter their seniority.
ISFPs are creative and passionate. They are also humble and more likely to be driven by internal motivation than external motivators such as pay and promotion. If they do find themselves in managerial roles, they are likely to give their employees the space to approach tasks in a way that suits them rather than define a rigid way of working.
For those ISFPs who hold leadership positions, using their power to drive positive impact will feel most satisfying. Our eight-week development program, ‘Personal Power’, helps people value the creativity and momentum generated by leading others effectively. It can support ISFPs to feel more comfortable in positions of authority.
ISFPs are content to work both independently and within a team. However, the team will need to be flexible enough not to constrain their ISFP teammates with rigid deadlines or ways of working.
For this reason, ISFPs tend to work better in smaller, more dynamic teams rather than those that necessitate a more process-driven approach. People with the ISFP personality type are also more likely to feel comfortable within a team of peers. Or at least where there is no obvious hierarchy to stifle their creativity and artistic freedom.
ISFPs like to be contributory, especially where the team goal and desired output align with their own interests. Their warm and non-judgmental personality tends to make them popular with their teammates.
ISFPs can fall foul of putting their own projects ahead of the work they should be doing on behalf of the team. ISFPs don’t mean to be selfish, and this is never because they want to advance their position within a business. They can simply get caught up in the excitement of their passions.
This can make ISFPs somewhat unpredictable. Team managers will need to perfect the subtle art of monitoring the output of ISFPs to ensure they’re on track to deliver their responsibilities without micromanaging them.
From Prince, the flamboyant American singer-songwriter, to Prince Harry, a member of the British royal family, ISFPs are recognized for their individuality and desire for creative freedom.
Here are some famous ISFPs:
Editor’s note: Do you recognize yourself in any of these famous people? Are you secretly nodding along, going, “I always thought I was just like Prince Harry?” Whether you are or you aren’t, don’t worry! This list is meant to be fairly light-hearted. It is based on traits and behaviors observed in our favorite celebs rather than in-depth research. After all, it’s unlikely anyone actually put Elizabeth Taylor through an MBTI test!