THE starting point from which to grasp the Church of England's
understanding of episcopacy is the 1662 Ordinal for the
consecration of bishops. Those called to the office of bishop are
called to "Government in the Church", and "to the Administration".
They are required to:
•instruct the people,
•banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange
•maintain and set forward . . . quietness, love, and peace among
all men; and such as be unquiet, disobedient, and criminous, within
your diocese, correct and punish.
Psychological-type profiling recognises the qualities identified
in 1662 as describing individuals who display the following
preferences within the framework of psychological type theory:
sensing (S), thinking (T), and judging (J).
At its core, psychological-type theory identifies four
significant, deep-seated psychological differences. Each of these
four differences is conceptualised as binary polar opposites (such
as male and female).
The two orientations - extraversion (E), and introversion (I) -
are concerned with the source of energy. Extraverts gain their
energy from the outer world of people and things; introverts gain
their energy from the inner world.
The two perceiving functions, sensing and intuition (N), are
concerned with ways in which information is gathered: sensing types
begin with the detailed information (facts), and build up to the
bigger picture; intuitive types begin with the bigger picture
(theories), and draw in the details.
The two judging functions, thinking and feeling (F), are
concerned with ways in which information is evaluated. Thinking
types base judgement in the head, using objective and logical
analysis. Feeling types base judgement in the heart, giving weight
to the human subjectivity within the situation.
The two attitudes, judging and perceiving (P), are concerned
with the way in which the outer world is operated. Judging types
employ their preferred judging function (thinking or feeling) in
the outer world, and model a structured external environment;
perceiving types employ their preferred perceiving function
(sensing or intuition) in the outer world, and model a flexible
Within this context the STJ profile provides a tight management
structure in which precision is more important than vision, systems
more important than people, and structure more important than
THE more recent Ordinal for the consecration of bishops set out
in Common Worship provides greater detail, and this detail
reinforces the need for the STJ management style; but the added
emphasis on the outgoing nature of the office promotes weighting in
favour of extraverted leadership (ESTJ) over introverted leadership
The management style favouring J is understood by designations
such as: principal ministers of word and sacrament; chief
The particular strengths of the SJ temperament are focused by
requirements such as: be guardians of the faith; follow the rules;
accept the discipline of this Church.
The particular strengths of the STJ style are drawn out by the
following injunctions: offer to God your best powers of mind; teach
the doctrine and refute error; confront injustice and work for
The exclusive emphasis on the T disposition is, however,
qualified in the Common Worship ordinal, and tempered by
some appeal to F: be merciful but with firmness; minister
discipline but with compassion; be gentle and merciful to those in
The distinctive strengths of the E disposition may be preferred
to effect the following tasks: leading God's people in mission;
knowing their people and being known by them; make your home a
place of hospitality and welcome.
THE contemporary Ordinal of the Church of England describes an
office that draws on the strengths of the ESTJ profile.
The Church of England currently selects its bishops from among
its male priests. So it is worth asking how well represented the
ESTJ profile is within that pool. In 2007, a group of us (with
Bishop Michael Whinney) published a profile on 626 Church of
England clergymen. Then, in 2010, we published a profile on another
group of 622 clergy. Both profiles were uncannily similar.
While the desired profile for bishops is Extraversion, Sensing,
and Thinking, the majority of clergymen are the opposite:
introverts, intuitive types, and feeling types. Only in terms of
Judging does the desired profile for bishops reflect the pool of
In a paper published in the Journal of Beliefs and
Values, in 2013, Bishop Michael Whinney, Dr Mandy Robbins, and
I described our attempt to offer a psychological profile of Church
of England bishops. We posted 258 questionnaires to serving and
retired bishops, and got 168 back (a response rate of six per
Our hypotheses were that the Church of England's selection
process of bishops would be more likely to recognise the call
Our first analysis compared all the bishops with our data on
clergymen. Three of our hypotheses were confirmed. The proportions
of extraverts, sensing types, and judging types were significantly
higher among the sample of bishops than among the sample of
clergymen. There was no significant difference, however, in the
proportion of feeling types in the two groups.
Then we remembered that the Church of England has two primary
types of bishops (diocesan and suffragan), and that different
selection processes are involved. We divided our pool of bishops
into two groups, and set these two types of bishops alongside the
This time, the results were startling. Now we found that the
poolof diocesan bishops contained a significantly higher proportion
of thinking types than found among clergy in general. At the
sametime, the pool of suffragan bishops contained a significantly
lower proportion of thinking types than found among clergymen in
gen-eral. This scientific study of episcopacy leads to three main
conclusions, and a challenge.
The first conclusion concerns the power of psychological-type
theory to illuminate the psychological characteristics associated
with those called to the office of diocesan bishop. For this
office, the Church is appointing clergymen who prefer extraversion,
sensing, thinking, and judging. These are individuals noted for
good skills in managing systems, and who will safeguard the
traditions and structures. They may not be so good at handling
people, envisioning innovative developments, or embracing change.
They may represent "a steady pair of hands" rather than visionary
The second conclusion concerns the power of psychological-type
theory to illuminate the difference in the psychological
characteristics of suffragan bishop and diocesan bishop. The main
difference is between appointing the system-centred head to the
diocesan post, and the person-centred heart to the suffragan
IN MANAGEMENT terms, it makes sense to seek the different skills
of complementary personality types within the episcopal office
within a diocese. Unless this strategy is made explicit, however,
the strategy may seem to be unfair to those suffragan bishops who
see their appointment as a stepping stone to diocesan
responsibilities, but then subsequently are never appointed as a
Made explicit, however, this becomes a structural opportunity
within the Church, by emphasising a career trajectory for suffragan
bishops outside the expectation of a diocesan post.
The third conclusion concerns inviting the Church to consider
accepting the routine application of psychological-type theory
within its human resource strategy, and to do so for two
First, the present study (and the wider research literature on
which it builds) makes it plain that certain aspects of personnel
selection involve implicit criteria that map, in predictable ways,
on to the constructs proposed by psychological-type theory. To
acknowledge this practice would lead to the creation of greater
Second, if the Church were to have a clear view of the
characteristics needed for effective ministry and mission at
different levels of its structure, psychological assessments could
aid in the selection process.
This study of the psychological-type profile of bishops may also
challenge the Church of England to pose this question: "As the
Church of England selects the next generation of diocesan bishops,
will the Church be best served by continuing to place confidence in
the STJ profile, with its strong emphasis on preserving the
traditions of the organisation?"
Might the Church be better served (in some dioceses at least)
by, say, the ENFP profile of bishops who are equipped to function
confidently with public visibility, to shape a vision for the
future, to motivate the hearts of men and women to catch that
vision, and to respond to the changing contours of a vision-led
Episcopal leadership of this nature would be neither scary nor
unpredictable, if supported and complemented by an ISTJ/ESTJ team
equipped to maintain the essential diocesan infrastructure,
including diocesan secretary, archdeacon, cathedral dean,
accountant, and chair of the board of finance.
The Revd Dr Leslie J. Francis is the Professor of Religions
and Education at the University of Warwick, and Canon Treasurer and
Canon Theologian at Bangor Cathedral.