By Michael Pierce
David Keirsey nicknamed them ‘The Supervisors,’ and their stereotype in the Jungian community, as far as I have seen, has been the insufferably traditionalist, inflexible and hard-nosed disciplinarian who taught your sixth-grade algebra class. This is clearly an unfair depiction, but those who try to give a more desirable description of the ESTJ often just describe a short-sighted and unambitious ENTJ.
In this piece I aim to describe the core of the ESTJ profile and the typical ESTJ as an individual just as capable or incapable of becoming a hero of the history books as any other personality.
To begin, let’s break down what constitutes the ESTJ functionally.
They are a Judging type, meaning that they prefer extroverted judging and introverted perceiving. This means that they base their judgment criteria on objective outside information, while simply observing and drinking in their subjective information and experiences. You could say that they are more aggressive towards the outside world and more receptive towards their inner experience.
Their preferred way of doing this is through extroverted thinking and introverted sensation. Extroverted thinking is inductive. It forms conclusions based on objective data, which they then aggressively try to fulfill. Meanwhile, introverted sensation perceives reality as it is, but invests its perceptions with subjectivity and recalls these subjective memories in similar situations. It is recording, or if you like, cataloguing or recalling.
Third, they are very similar to the ISTJ; both prefer Te and Si. The ESTJ, however, prefers Te more than Si. Nevertheless, they are in some sense the same type, or at least sister types. I personally like to call STJ types the “Scientists”, because they thoroughly examine reality and compare it with all the past experiences they’ve collected in their database. They then form logical conclusions from this breadth of objective data. Of course, “Scientist” is merely a nickname to help me remember the STJ nature; it does not mean STJs are more likely to have an interest in actual science.
The ESTJ, then, is a “scientist” for whom the objective data and its resultant conclusions hold more sway than their subjective perceptions. They are more concerned with fulfilling their obligations than with recording and exploring information gleaned from reality.
As such, the word I like to use to encapsulate the ESTJ nature is “responsibility.” As far as I understand it, the core element of this personality is the inductive formation of conclusions about the world: essentially, they develop a world-law or formula for how things logically must be and then seek to live according to this law, as not doing so would be illogical and nonsensical. In other words, they form conclusions from objective data and then feel obligated to live according to those logical conclusions; they have a solemn responsibility to do so, so long as the conclusions remain sound. They do this despite any inner, sentimental protests they may have. Their inner sentiment is repressed and seen as a weakness. The world law must be obeyed no matter what; it only makes sense to do so.
As such they feel that they ought to be held completely accountable for all their actions, good or ill, reasonable or flawed. Nothing will get done in their favor unless they hunker down and produce, working according to their understanding of the world. In other words, “stick to your guns” and “you reap what you sow.” Once they form a conclusion they ought to stick to it, accepting full responsibility for their actions, reaping whatever they sow by their brilliance or incompetence. They also expect the same responsibility of others and get frustrated when people pose sentimentally charged arguments, excuses or sob stories, which they perceive as the cowardly or petty avoidance of responsibility for their actions.
It’s now easier to see where the stereotype came from; they can appear hard-nosed and disconcertingly strict or harsh. Although, most ESTJs, as with any type, do not submit to their preferences pathologically. A typical ESTJ isn’t going to go about shoving their formula down everyone’s throat. But they will naturally take the perspective that people ought to stick to their guns, reap what they sow, suck it up and not fall back on sob stories to excuse themselves, even if they don’t go broadcasting this opinion or consider it an essential part of themselves.
On the other hand, the ESTJ may purposefully express their opinions in as bigoted and offensive a way as possible. This is an expression of the ESTJ’s tertiary Ne, because in this situation the ESTJ knows full well that their statement will be offensive to people. They state it so offensively in order to make fun of those who can’t handle the truth, while they just as easily could have stated it in a more politically correct way. I make mention of this as an example of the often unnoticed clever, multifaceted Ne side of the ESTJ. They are by no means narrow-minded, humorless, backwards disciplinarians. On the contrary, they have a tertiary perception of future possibilities and multiple facets of an issue, despite how their dominant Te may make them appear. Underlying their personality is the cleverness, innovation, and cognizance of a typical Ne type.
Finally, it is important to mention the adverse effects of their dominant Te. This causes a repression of the Fi function, responsible for forming judgment criteria based on personal, subjective values. As mentioned before, the ESTJ strives to keep their logical obligations despite any nagging sentimental protests. Its repression also extends to how they view other people, as they find it difficult or aversive to give any weight to others’ personal values. This is why they abhor sob stories, because it’s an expression of personal feeling and sentiment, and such feelings are repressed under the importance of keeping one’s obligations. They may find it difficult to empathize with others or understand what they’re going through, because they naturally believe that objective data ought to hold the greater sway for things in the world to go right.
So, in summary, the ESTJ is responsible, submitting to their logical conclusions, expecting nothing less of themselves and others than to get down in the dirt and produce without whining about it. Underlying it all, they have a clever and innovative spirit and humor. Unfortunately, they have trouble recognizing their own or others’ personal values and feelings, making it difficult for them to empathize with others and more likely to deeply offend them or mow them over.
Thanks for reading, and for all the ESTJs out there: thanks for trying to keep us on the straight and narrow.
Watch this piece as a video here.