The ESTJ Personality Type: Key Traits, Strengths, Weaknesses & More
According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), each of us falls under one of 16 personalities. And of all these personality types, there's one with an incredible knack for politics and leadership: the ESTJ.
If you or someone you know is an an ESTJ, here's what to keep in mind.
The ESTJ personality type:
ESTJ stands for Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging. According to Dario Nardi, Ph.D., a personality expert and author of Neuroscience of Personality, this Myers-Briggs personality type is known for being hard-working, driven, and practical, placing high importance on upholding their values. They're great organizers and managers, whether at home, in the community, in school, or at work, he says.
That said, ESTJs can come off as a bit tyrannical when they don't consider others' feelings, he notes. "They can dismiss others' unique life experiences and perspectives, and try too much to limit others into a 'best' path or mold."
This personality type is one of the more common Myers-Briggs types, according to Nardi. Namely, they make up roughly 8% of the general population (11% of men, and 6% of women).
"It's among the most common types in the population, if not the most common among men in the US, and relatively rare for women," he adds. "Thus, female ESTJs face challenges, especially when pushed by others and society to be more empathetic or feeling-focused."
ESTJ characters and famous people:
- Cersei Lannister, Game of Thrones
- Dwight Schrute, The Office
- Monica Geller, Friends
- Frank Sinatra
- Henry Ford
- Hillary Clinton
- Margaret Thatcher
- George W. Bush
5 key traits:
If there's one thing to know about the ESTJ, it's that they will get the job. As Nardi says, they're "driven, hard-working, tough, and have high energy for getting things done, especially through others." This vehement dedication can make them come off as pious pillars of the community—but can come off as tyrants to those closest to them, he adds.
ESTJs are not ones to day-dream or get lost in fantastical ideas. Rather, Nardi says, they are practical and realistic about life, which is part of what helps them get things done.
This is not a personality type that's going to beat around the bush, so you can at least count on them to be authentic—albeit a bit insensitive. As Nardi explains, "With their direct language, ESTJs can come across as confrontational, argumentative, or even as steamrollers. What they think of as funny or a question to test someone's characters, others can experience as snark or even nasty trolling."
The only time they may have trouble communicating directly, however, is when they're asking others for help, especially in regard to emotional issues, he notes.
Surprising as it may seem, ESTJs do know how to let loose. Nardi tells mbg they do have a playful side, enjoy interesting conversations, and are more adaptable than they let on. They're also "often surprisingly insightful about others' character," he adds.
And lastly, tying back to this type's strong dedication to things, that includes their values. According to Nardi, ESTJs can be "extremely loyal and dedicated to a philosophy, religious practice, or a campaign to improve their community."
- Seemingly unemotional
- Can be traditional to a fault
- Preoccupied with social recognition
ESTJs in relationships.
The ESTJ may not be considered the most emotive or romantic personality type (in fact, Nardi says they can actually be prudish and unromantic), but they are direct, straightforward, and authentic. So what they may lack in romance, they make up for in stability and reliability.
And as board-certified clinical psychologist Kristina Hallett, Ph.D., ABPP, previously wrote for mbg, "Research has shown that having two personality types in common may make for the best combinations. Specifically, if you and your partner are the same in sensing/judging (ESTJ, ESFJ, ISTJ, ISFJ), there's a greater than 70 percent chance of compatibility."
To that end according to Nardi, "At first blush, we might think that some types—namely, ISTJ, ISFJ, ENTJ, and INTJ—are good fits. And yes, ESTJs do tend to pair up with these types. But with ENTJ, the relationship can be overly business-like, in an unsatisfying way, and with the other three, the ESTJ's style may overshadow (that is, crush) their introverted partner." He also adds that ESTPs can work well with ESTJs because they complement each other.
What ultimately matters for ESTJs in a relationship is stability, values, growth, and goals, so if they meet someone who can align with their vision, that would indicate good compatibility. And because these folks are known to be consistent and steadfast, their relationships tend to be predictable and a place of safety.
ESTJ and INFP:
An ESTJ and an INFP are essentially the antithesis of each other, and while you can say what you want about opposites attracting, the truth is, these two may have a hard time connecting or relating to each other. As John Hackston, head of thought leadership at the Myers-Briggs Company, previously told mindbodygreen, "Because of their reserved nature, only a few people in the INFP's inner circle will really know who they really are."
Nardi adds that INFPs' sensitive and idealistic nature can also make dating and intimacy a challenge. They're known to put their partners on a pedestal, he says, which can lead to some disillusionment down the line.
Pair them with an ESTJ, and an INFP may feel hurt by ESTJ's direct (and sometimes confrontational) nature. And the ESTJ, meanwhile, may find the INFP immature or overly sensitive.
ESTJ and INFJ:
According to Nardi, an ESTJ and INFJ matchup would be a "really challenging fit." Further, both Hallett and therapist De-Andrea Blaylock-Johnson, LCSW, CST, previously told mbg that ESTJs may have more difficulty connecting to INFJs.
Similar to INFPs, INFJs are sensitive, which makes them supportive partners, but only when that sensitivity is reciprocated. Again, this is not an ESTJ's strong suit, so similar problems would arise with this pair as with an ESTJ and INFP.
ESTJs in the workplace.
ESTJs thrive in leadership roles where they can organize and manage people under a common goal or initiative. According to Nardi, they're typically drawn to managerial positions for this reason, and like to focus on having standard operating procedures, bringing order to chaotic situations, and leaning on what's worked in the past rather than what's possible.
In the office (and everywhere, really) they're industrious, practical, and hard-working, and prefer direct over vague language, or a touchy-feely or wishy-washy style. "They try to apply all rules equally to everyone for fairness, but making no exceptions can also make them look unfeeling," he notes.
They also may tend to take a band-aid approach to problems as they emerge, Nardi notes, which can result in a lot of band-aids and bureaucracy over time.
Best careers for an ESTJ:
- Real estate
- Property management
- Sales manager
- Judge or attorney
- Law enforcement
How to thrive as an ESTJ.
When it comes to thriving as an ESTJ, Nardi says this type benefits from more openness, kindness, and sensitivity—even if it doesn't come natural from them. He recommends avoiding (or at least loosening the reigns) when it comes to judging or controlling other people, even if you think it's for their own good. "They benefit to develop more empathy," he adds.
This type can also be very humorous, he notes, but they shouldn't lean on their jokes at the expense of others. "They must learn to tame their biting sense of humor."
He also recommends the ESTJ prioritize nurturing some of their creative interests. "Travel the world and be open to tasting different cultures to experience the wealth and variety that life has to offer. Be the classiest person you can, and classy doesn't mean 'community standards,' it means beautiful on the inside," he adds.
What is the ESTJ personality?
ESTJ stands for Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging. This Myers-Briggs personality type is known for being hard-working, driven, and great organizers and managers.
How rare is an ESTJ?
ESTJs are one of the more common personality types among the 16 personalities that make up the Myers-Briggs system. It is a particularly common type among men (11%) and more rare among women (6%).
Who should an ESTJ marry?
An ESTJ will pair well with someone who is equally driven and shares the same values. In terms of MBTI compatibility, research shows this type has an over 70% chance of compatibility with ESFJs, ISTJs, and ISFJs.
What do ESTJs struggle with?
ESTJs struggle with emotional intimacy and being sensitive towards others. While this may help them get ahead in some areas of life, it is something to work on within their relationships.
Of all 16 MBTI types, there's a reason so many politicians and leaders have been ESTJs. These people are not only enthusiastic about their goals, but they have the drive to see them through to the end—at seemingly any cost.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.