ESTJ Personality Type Profile

By Dr. A.J. Drenth

“ESTJ” is one of sixteen personality types. While some estimates suggest ESTJs comprise upwards of 8% of the general population, my research and experience suggests them as less common than both ESTPs and ISTJs.

ESTJs are dutiful, hardworking, and task-oriented. Often possessing “Type-A” tendencies, they can become impatient and frustrated when things fail to unfold according to their expected plan or time frame. In the presence of ESTJs, one can sometimes feel like he is being hurried or rushed, that the ESTJ wants him to “cut to the chase.”

ESTJs are also firm, direct, and opinionated. Their verbiage tends to be succinct and to the point. At times, others may view them as harsh, blunt, or insensitive. Despite appearing outwardly confident and assertive, they are, on the whole, no more inwardly secure nor sure of themselves than other types. In fact, because their inner Judging function (Fi) is inferior, they may feel they have relatively little inner control. Finding inner control elusive, they naturally turn their focus outwardly, hoping that achieving outer control will bring them inner calm and security. Of course, controlling the outside world is no small or easy task, contributing to ESTJs’ propensity for restlessness and hypervigilance.

ESTJ Bill O'Reilly

Bill O’Reilly, ESTJ

Among the most “left-brained” of all the types, ESTJs typically present as relatively serious folks. Unlike ENTJs, whose auxiliary Ni can go a long way in providing fun and entertainment for all, ESTJs’ Si may offer little in terms of lightness or humor. Those with a more salient sense of humor generally turn to their tertiary function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne), for witty or clever remarks.

Like their ISTJ counterparts, ESTJs tend to keep one eye on the past (Si). They aim to protect and preserve past methods, traditions, and conventions. This is why David Keirsey classifies them as “guardians.” They grow attached to the familiar and expected, often developing a reliable set of habits and routines. As such, ESTJs like to know what to expect, to “know the plan.” Unlike EPs, who are stimulated by novelty and uncertainty, ESTJs can find uncertainty or ambiguity unsettling.

Like ENTJs, ESTJs often rise to positions of leadership. The primary difference, in this respect, is that ENTJs tend to be visionary leaders, which often carries them to the very top of the leadership ladder. ENTJs also prefer to make and modify their own rules. ESTJs by contrast, are not only willing to give orders, but are generally okay with working under pre-established rules, guidelines, and procedures. Consequently, they often serve as middle-level managers and supervisors.

While ESTJs differ from ESTPs by only one “preference” (i.e., J-P), they actually share zero functions in common. This makes these two types far more different than is commonly recognized. ESTJs, whose Extraverted Judging function is dominant Thinking (Te), tend to be blunter and unapologetic in their assertions than ESTPs, whose Extraverted Judging function is tertiary Feeling (Fe). ESTPs display a certain social ease and smoothness that is distinguishable from the blunt approach of ESTJs.

All in all, ESTJs are among the most loyal, dutiful, and responsible of all types. Like ESFJs, they are admired for their work ethic, perseverance, devotion, and steadfastness. They strive to practice what they preach, holding fast to their commitments and convictions. They make loyal friends and companions, especially for those who embrace a similar worldview and lifestyle.

ESTJ Personality Type Development & Functional Stack

ESTJs’ functional stack  is composed of the following functions:

Dominant: Extraverted Thinking (Te)

Auxiliary: Introverted Sensing (Si)

Tertiary: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)

Inferior:  Introverted Feeling (Fi)

ESTJs’ personality type development can be broadly conceived as consisting of three phases:

Phase I (Youth-20s)

This phase is characterized by the development and employment of ESTJs’ dominant function, Extraverted Thinking (Te). In developing and strengthening their Te, Phase I ESTJs can seem particularly inflexible and opinionated, quick to make judgments and draw conclusions about the world. Since Te is a Judging function, they also tend to take themselves and their lives rather seriously. While often perceived as outspoken or opinionated, Phase I ESTJs are developing the Te skills necessary to function as leaders and managers.

Phase II (20s-30s)

While the inferior function is not entirely dormant or inert in Phase I, the epic tug-of-war between the dominant and inferior does not come to the fore until Phase II. Once ESTJs’ dominant Te reaches a certain threshold of strength and dominance, their inferior function, Introverted Feeling (Fi), begins to assert itself and play a more prominent role. This can be somewhat confusing since Ni is not next in line in ESTJs’ functional stack, but can be understood as deriving from its bipolar relationship with their dominant Te.

Phase II ESTJs also show increasing use and development of their auxiliary function, Introverted Sensing (Si), and may even begin to tap into their tertiary function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne). These Perceiving functions allow ESTJs to open and modify their Te judgments. They help them loosen their grip on life, tempering their Te drive for outer order and control.

Phase III (30s, 40s, & Beyond)

If all goes well and they are fortunate enough to enter Phase III, ESTJs become increasingly aware of the insidious ways of their inferior Fi. As they become more aware of their inferior and learn to function more healthily as ESTJs, they experience greater balance between their Te and Fi, as well as an increasing sense of peace and wholeness.

ESTJs’ Dominant Function: Extraverted Thinking (Te)

There are two varieties of Thinking: Introverted Thinking (Ti) and Extraverted Thinking (Te). The latter serves as ESTJs’ dominant and most preferred function.

Te strives to bring order, control, and rationality to the systems and operations of the outside world. It is oriented toward quantification, insisting on objective standards and measurable goals. It carefully spells out how to get from here to there, using as many maps, directions, and labels as appropriate.

Te undergirds ESTJs’ tendency to quickly express their judgments and opinion, to literally think (i.e., make judgments, conclusions, and decisions) aloud. ESTJs Judge before they Perceive, speak before they listen. This can be both a strength and a weakness. On the one hand, it can make them strong and courageous leaders. On the other, it can cause them to seem abrasive, dogmatic, or controlling.

Having a dominant Te can also make ESTJs prone to overstating things. They may say things that, in retrospect, they wish they could rescind, or at least soften. This is especially true for ESTJs with a hypersensitive inferior function (Fi), which can lead them to respond defensively or reactively.

As a Judging function, Te also contributes to ESTJs’ work-orientation. Like other types with a dominant Judging function, they are generally more serious and focused than relaxed or receptive. Even on days when they have no obligations, they are quick to get to work on something. Even in their leisure time, they can experience a sense of urgency or hurriedness in getting things done.

(This Personality Junkie type profile is continued on the next page.)