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ESTJ, or Extroverted Sensing Thinking Judger

is a label borrowed from MBTI nomenclature and now applied to the Jungian Cognitive Function set {Te, Si, Ne, Fi}.

What Is Personality Type

What Is Personality Type

Dominant: Extroverted Thinking (Te)

"More than anything I want to be seen as a competent leader, a strong organizer capable of taking charge and getting results. I think there are good reasons for the commonly accepted and proven methods of getting things done: they work! People come to me when they need help setting up their plans or moving their projects forward because they know I'm consistently dependable, and they trust me to take on the important responsibilities because they know I'll work as hard as I can to make sure things are done right. I will take full responsibility if something I'm in charge of doesn't go well, so I need to work with people I can count on to meet expectations and respect schedules and deadlines. Sometimes others see me as too much of a stickler for rules and structure, but I'm not sure they realize how important it is to have a concrete plan of action and a central focus for everything you do. I don't like to waste time or energy and it bothers me when people don't bother with the research and preparation to make sure they're using the most effective methods. Work ethic is something I place a lot of importance on--it's important to do your fair share, and to be self-sufficient enough that you can stand up on your own and support your own needs. If you ever want to feel like you've accomplished anything in life, shouldn't you work hard to ensure that you're doing things the right way?"

ESTJs at their best are driven, focused, and productive--and those are the qualities by which they typically define their identities and self-images. As Te dominants, they have little patience for inefficiency, and they trust in the collective knowledge of whichever external groups they see as knowledgeable and worthwhile authorities. They are singularly aware that for any given job or task, there exists a most effective methodology, and they will bend over backwards to make sure they know what it is and that the project gets moving in the right direction. While others may complain about or disregard formal rules systems or regulations, ESTJs will generally stick up for them. There's a reason for the right method, a logic to the system and the way the different steps in a process interconnect. ESTJs, in most cases, seem to naturally understand this kind of causality on a deeper level than most other people do.

Nonetheless, ESTJs are often misunderstood and misrepresented in the media as tyrannical control freaks, overbearing bosses, or blind traditionalists. Since they are typically aggressive and confident in the pursuit of their goals, and since concern for the emotional states of others is not generally the first thing they look for when assessing a situation, it's easy to mistake their desire for progress and success as selfish insistence on absolute self-authority. But while ESTJs do insist on a clearly defined chain of command and organizational structure, it's not generally because they have any overwhelming desire to make the lives of others miserable--it's because they understand the significance of the consequences of the absence of recognizable logical structure and continuity of process. They may often find themselves the only organizationally competent member of an entire team. Because they value planning and tangible progress to such a high degree, ESTJs often feel personally responsible for the success or failure of any given job or initiative. If they haven't done everything they can to ensure the best result, they will be unable to live with themselves if the effort falls through. They may often see others as so unable to handle the administrative relationships they grasp so naturally that they fear the entire project will collapse around them (negatively impacting everyone involved) if they don't put forth their best efforts to keep things afloat.

Naturally, this can (and does) cause friction with a variety of other types. It's hard to browse any typology forum without hearing a disgruntled xNxP complain about his overbearing ESTJ father, boss, or public leader. What most people (especially disgruntled NPs) don't realize about ESTJs, though, is that they are the people who keep life running smoothly when everything is falling apart and no one else knows what to do. While they may sometimes become frustrated or angry with people they perceive as ineffectual or insubordinate, they're often surprisingly calm and confident in the face of crisis (assuming it's a crisis they've anticipated and prepared for.) Te as a dominant function is most satisfied when a situation arises where all of its knowledge and preparation apply directly to achieving the best solution, where they're able to prove their skills and competence directly by producing measurable results for their tireless efforts. When logical and empirical evaluations are standardized according to a universal rubric, no one can argue with the real-life results of hard work, preparation, and execution. The ability to maintain focus on these all-important goals leads almost invariably to a sense of pride in self-sufficiency that nearly all xxTJ types share--ESTJs loathe depending on others for resources, and they build a lot of their self-images on their ability to look out for themselves and provide concrete direction for their own lives as well as the lives of those around them.

A common ESTJ misconception is that they care only about the end result and not about the people involved in the process. This is generally much less true than it may seem on the surface: often, especially in the context of groups where the ESTJ is personally connected to the people she's working with, the impending possibility of failure (and its associated negative impact on the group) may very well be the entire reason she feels compelled to lend direction and efficient leadership to the situation in the first place. The ESTJ is not out to annoy others--she simply recognizes their logical mistakes and infrastructure inefficiencies to a much higher degree than they do, and she can't stand by and watch while others (especially those important to her on a personal basis) waste their time and effort on a system or process that's bound to fail due to simple, common sense planning errors. If she sees something that could be improved or brought up to "industry standards", the ESTJ may have great difficulty restraining her natural desire to correct it. While she may not always do so in the manner most palatable to those around her, her commitment to achievement (and to helping those around her achieve) is undeniable.

Auxiliary: Introverted Sensation (Si)

"As an auxiliary function, Si is responsible for providing a balancing effect between the external logic and facts of Te's world (where ESTJs feel most at home) and the private perceptual associations they come to develop as they build more skills and experiences. Si is primarily related to connections of information with personalized meaning and expectations--as the ESTJ learns and develops, he discovers gradually that not everything in life can be fully explained or understood using standardized measurements and fact-based assessments. While the very concept of subjectivity is, in itself, annoying and inconvenient for Te--ESTJs love being able to decisively and objectively prove the value of their ideas and methodologies--the influence of Si introduces them to a deeper world of internal sensory information processing, where only extensive collections of deeply personalized experiences can produce the level of competence and thorough understanding they desire most.

Earlier in life, ESTJs may find it difficult to place any genuine value on anything that cannot be clearly marked, measured, and evaluated according to an objective hierarchy. Dominant Te reasons that all worthwhile knowledge is collected, stored, and represented by the outwardly observable laws and logical relationships between externally verifiable processes and concepts--the beauty of which rests in the fact that no one individual's experience or opinion can taint the collective objectivity of knowledge as a general body. The role of Si begins to integrate into the ESTJ's cognition as he discovers that not everything he needs to know can be found in books or learned through study of the methods of others--he will learn that certain parts of life can only be understood by directly experiencing them for oneself, by discovering significance through internalization of actual sensory experience and association of perceptual expectations created therein.

In practice, this tends to lead to a gradual shift from overconfidence in the absolute correctness of logical authorities toward an emphasis on individual understanding and a more open-minded attitude toward the possibility that the subjective perceptions of others (and indeed, of themselves) may hold as much validity as the objective rules by which ESTJs structure their lives. One cannot truly grasp the subtleties of life's experiences without many years of hard-fought trial and error, and there is room for interpretive difference even within the confines of a well-defined schedule or working method. As they build more skills and collect more information from various areas, ESTJs will learn to develop their own interpretive paradigms--and they may be surprised to discover that their own experiences don't always align perfectly with the standards that their prized objective expectations might suggest.

It's worth noting that, as a perceptive function, Si makes no evaluation or judgment upon the sensory information it internalizes and ultimately builds into the ESTJ's comfort zone and sense of perceptual continuity. Like their ISTJ cousins but to a lesser extent, ESTJs must be careful to avoid situations in which too many negative or unrealistic associations may be generated between their private, experiential reactions and the measurable realities of the world around them. They are generally careful to stay within contexts where they know what they're doing, lest their subjective hunches generate too large a schism between their problem-solving abilities and the objective expectations of the people on whom they depend for personal interaction and structural boundaries. Left to its own devices, Si can lead ESTJs down potentially destructive roads--as creatures of habit who need to keep things under control in order to feel comfortable, they must take care to avoid letting themselves become too comfortable with uncontrollable situations.

As Si grows stronger and generates stronger cognitive balance, the ESTJ will develop her own perceptual set, and the more sensory information she internalizes relating to her areas of interest, the more she will "normalize" new sensations by adjusting her perceptions of them to the expectations her individual experiences have come to generate. Interestingly, though ESTJs are often seen as naturally detail-oriented, it's actually the development of auxiliary Si that facilitates this attention to detail more than anything else--Te on its own may very well overlook important details in favor of expediency and progress. Introduction of Si into the system will grant the ESTJ a mental "map" of information, a sort of "sixth sense" in terms of what "feels right" and what doesn't. That which matches expectations built on prior successes and failures will, ideally, match up with that which external laws and obligations suggest is fair and accurate. Nonetheless, the well-balanced ESTJ is capable of discerning the difference between the two, and of using her own experiential knowledge to correct the error when the outer world's expectations conflict with it.

Tertiary: Extroverted iNtuition (Ne)

As life carries on, ESTJs will inevitably be confronted with a side of their personalities that doesn't seem to fit within the structural expectations of their preferred cognitive attitudes. Tertiary Ne enters the picture as an agent of creative exploration--but also as an element of unpredictability and potentially chaotic influence. It's responsible for several different adjustments that may confuse and possibly even alienate others, at least until the ESTJ learns to understand this part of himself thoroughly enough to incorporate it into his cognitive approach in a healthy and productive way.

While dominant Te's chief desire is to be judged as a competent arbitrator in line with the categorical expectations of those considered knowledgeable, Ne contributes to the extroverted side of the ESTJ personality by adding an accompanying desire to be perceived as unique and creative. The accompanying tendency to throw caution to the wind and think outside the box may alarm or frighten close associates and even the ESTJ himself--ignoring accepted evaluative norms and forging into the unknown solely in search of novel or unexpected results is virtually antithetical to the way most ESTJs tend to handle themselves and define their place in the world. They may rightly wonder, as Ne develops, where this sudden desire to tear down established expectations and wander into something different is coming from, and they may fear that it threatens all that they've worked so hard their entire lives to establish. Nonetheless, the introduction of Ne should provide a useful alternative perspective when situations invariably arise where the tried and true methods that have proven successful in the past cease, for whatever reason, to continue living up to expectations.

Most ESTJs seem to funnel tertiary Ne into some sort of creative outlet, which may or may not ever relate concretely to their career goals. Since they so often choose careers primarily on the basis that they will provide stable and consistent financial support, they find themselves unable to inject much personal individuality into their everyday working lives, and thus one common solution is to join some sort of creative endeavor where they can feel free to let Ne roam and explore without having to worry whether their inner creative spirit conflicts with any contractual obligations. Other ESTJs express their Ne by surrounding themselves with friends and associates involved in creative fields--often such people can provide them with feedback on their own work, and help them feel inspired to continue working toward new frontiers when others in their professional lives seem to lack interest or inspiration.

If auxiliary Si is poorly developed, granting Ne a stronger role in the ESTJ's cognition than she is naturally comfortable with, the "TeNe loop" ESTJ may find herself in an impossible situation: torn between preserving the old guard and promoting the new wave of the future, her conflicting desires to be seen as both rationally level-headed and wildly revolutionary may circumvent legitimate progress, ultimately resulting in high stress and burnout. She may find that even though her approach is working, it's become too dull and uninteresting to continue with--and then, intent on finding something new, may branch out too far and experiment with too many new possibilities with no real direction, sabotaging herself as she loses focus and indulges ever further into mindless experimentation for nothing but its own sake. She may struggle with the fear that everything she's learned will become useless, that she may wake up one day and discover that she herself has become obsolete overnight. Lost in the expansive world of change for change's sake, TeNe has the potential to make the ESTJ into a slave to the expectations of others. Uncertain of what will bring her personal satisfaction and stuck with the exhausting task of constantly satisfying conflicting expectations from vastly different worlds, she may find herself feeling utterly dissatisfied, yet clueless as to how to progress.

When integrated correctly, tertiary Ne should provide an additional balancing influence by reminding the ESTJ that change can be a good thing, that new direction is sometimes the very thing that will ultimately result in the greatest amount of progress and the best results. Strong and confident ESTJs will often manage to work their intuitive tendencies into their careers: by introducing Ne into their cognitive approaches but still allowing it to remain subservient to Te and Si, the well-rounded ESTJ will work to promote optimal efficiency, while still maintaining the ability to change or rework areas which no longer seem to produce the consistent results which create the satisfaction she's become used to. Life will, ideally, remain fundamentally predictable and controlled, but open to occasional change and reinvention when necessary.

Inferior: Introverted Feeling (Fi)

As the weakest and least controllable force in the ESTJ's cognitive hierarchy, inferior Fi can present a number of issues which create substantial difficulty for most ESTJs throughout the majority of their lives. Since they spend the majority of their time dealing with impersonal and objective evaluations on a large-scale, and since these evaluations tend to apply to large numbers of people in many different contexts, taking time to sit down and reflect on their own private ethical values may strike ESTJs as an inefficient use of time, at best--or a hypocritical and illogical mistake, at worst. Often naturally distrustful of the very concept of introverted judgment, ESTJs may find themselves grappling with the ethical implications of their working lives, struggling to balance their organizational talents against their personal feelings about the greater value and inherent worth of the work they involve themselves in.

In their weaker moments, ESTJs in the grip of inferior Fi may become uncharacteristically offended when others don't see or immediately accept the value in their preferred methodologies. As they often feel genuinely responsible for the well-being of those around them, they may take it quite personally when they feel that their advice--their primary contribution to the improvement of their surroundings--is being ignored or rejected. They may struggle with feelings of hypocrisy or personal inadequacy when their emotions tell them to react negatively to this sort of perceived rejection, conflicting with their stronger and more conscious Thinking objectives. Since they normally expect others to be able to set aside their personal feelings in favor of accomplishing more important goals, the sudden inability to do this themselves may strike them as a form of weakness of which they must absolve themselves at all costs. They may not only feel guilty, but also guilty about feeling guilty in the first place. (This last part is especially true of male ESTJs, who often consider it their responsibility to maintain a dispassionately logical outlook at all times.)

Some ESTJs may even be so painfully aware of their own natural difficulties in this area that they overcompensate (whether consciously or not) by pushing specific moral agendas to the point of exaggerated emphasis on seemingly random or insignificant ethical dilemmas or problems with society at large. In these situations it's not uncommon to see them applying Fi in service of Te's awareness of its own talents--feeling legitimately distressed by the ethical problems with a given situation, but much less confident in their ability to express these feelings than in their known areas of strength, they may take up projects or causes in service of their private moral values, but under the guise of simple improvements to efficiency of process. ESTJs rarely expect thanks or appreciation for performing what Fi sees as their moral duty. Somewhat counterintuitively, the driving unconscious force behind Fi ("I must be a Good Person and I must contribute to Good Causes") may have much more to do with the ESTJ's motivations in many situations than his characteristically impersonal demeanor suggests. Usually, ESTJs are not entirely unaware of their own tendency toward bluntness and direct criticism, but are confused and uncertain as to how to express their private feelings more openly or connect emotionally with others. The resultant confusion can create a variety of difficulties in terms of structuring and maintaining interpersonal relationships (though ESTJs are typically reliable and devoted enough friends and family members that loved ones can forgive or simply overlook their shortcomings in this area.)

With time and experience, inferior Fi should ultimately lead to a more well-rounded personality as the unconscious side of the TeFi duality blends more smoothly with the conscious side, leading to a more complete personality capable of balancing the importance of scheduled progress against the private moral tenets of the internal self. This is often a long and arduous process, however--to ESTJs, it may often seem like halting the development of their projects to deal with every little emotional or moral quandary of every individual involved would be so time-consuming and inefficient as to prevent any real results from ever being created, or any useful goals from ever reaching completion. As he becomes more in touch with his own emotional needs and personal values, however, the ESTJ will naturally develop more empathy for the similar needs of those surrounding him. As he learns to keep an eye (even if only in the back of his mind) on his own humanistic moral responsibilities, he treads ever closer to completing the all-important project that is his own personal growth--and he'll feel all the more satisfied when he gets there.