As with the ENFJ article, I want to acknowledge to the ENTJs out there that this is going to seem like a long article and you may or may not deal with the phenomenon know as “time urgency.”  If you take the time to read it I promise there will be insights and greater self-understanding. I think you’re gonna like it.  -Antonia

Just when you think you know a type…

One of the easiest mistakes to make about the ENTJ personality type is to assume you understand them based on how they present to the world. Since they (usually) don’t particularly care how people sum them up it’s easy to create an ENTJ caricature and call it good.

This article is intended to get a bit deeper into the type. For those of you who are ENTJs: yes, I know “all that introspection stuff is for hippies.” (Thats a direct quote from one of our ENTJ podcast listeners.) Read this anyway. I’ll try to use bullet points when I can. 😉

The ENTJ Personality Type

To get inside the experience of an ENTJ it’s important to acknowledge how they relate to the world and how the world responds back.

ENTJs lead with a Driver process called Effectiveness.

Effectiveness is the part of us that wants to get things done and cross items off the ‘to-do’ list. Metrics become important since they’re the primary tool to determine pass/fail criteria.

Since it’s a flow state for an ENTJ this prime mover keeps them moving and industrious. The world loves this quality and ENTJs are well rewarded for their Driver process. Over time, however, they can integrate the message that they should always be in action and it’s not okay to slow down or rest.

The Co-Pilot process is Perspectives.

Perspectives is the process that helps ENTJs watch their own minds form patterns, get inside the minds of others and allows them to see implications far into the future.

The 10 Year Old process is Sensation.

Sensation, when done well, is how we stay present in the moment, and process the extraordinary amount of sensory detail that is coming at us at all times. It’s also where we get in touch with what gives us an adrenaline rush and how we improvise with our bodies.

The 3 Yr Old process is Authenticity.

Authenticity is the part of us that gets in touch with our feelings. It’s where we understand the subjective human experience and core components of identity.

How the Mental Processes Influence ENTJs

All types tend to identify with their Driver process, and when it’s extraverted it’s how others primarily experience them, too. The Effectiveness process in particular gets a lot of exposure since our society tends to reward it.

Getting things done, industriousness, the ability to set aside personal feelings in pursuit of projects and goals – we’re enamored by these abilities, and it’s extremely easy for an ENTJ to get the message that as long as they’re kicking ass and taking names in productivity everything is gravy.

Since there’s little encouragement for an ENTJ to go ‘inward’ they may over rely on both their extraverted processes – Effectiveness and Sensation, encouraging them to be reactive to situations as opposed to responsive.

The Co-Pilot process of Perspectives is technically called Introverted Intuition. It’s pattern recognition that works by spelunking inside the mind. Those who use Introverted Intuition as a Driver or Co-Pilot are (at least on some level) never married to their own perspective, which allows them to shift into other people’s perspectives with relative ease. (Which is the root of the nickname.)

It can be a tentative process, and it requires the user to have as few distractions as possible. I’ve had it described as a bloodhound on the scent of a trail. If the bloodhound is interrupted it may never get back on the trail.

But it takes patience, a quality most Extraverts need to work on. And ENTJs are no exception.

To slow down long enough to plumb their inner depths can be frustrating. It doesn’t feel like they’re getting anything done, and they’ve been socially programmed to see ‘getting things done’ as their value.

Being a Bird of Paradise:

Most people who use Perspectives as a Driver or Co-Pilot struggle with their relationship with the process. The world doesn’t really understand how intuition works on a cognitive level, much less a nuanced understanding of Introverted vs. Extraverted Intuition. As less than 10% of the population uses it prominently in their cognitive function “stack” there can be a dearth of mentors and cheerleaders for this process. Since it’s a supplemental process and not a compulsion for the two ENxJ types, it can be far too easy to ignore developing the function and simply conform to societal expectations.

I’ve noticed some ENTJs take a ‘side door’ route to their intuitive side by enjoying entertainment which tickles the process. Science fiction and fantasy genres are generally popular with this type, as well as strategy games like Chess. I have an ENTJ friend who is an extremely successful hedge fund manager who played Backgammon professionally.

But in order to truly develop the process there needs to be emphasis on the more skilled components. Forecasting, future pacing, perspective shifting and openness to things that aren’t ‘observably, empirically provable’ are all extremely important. Otherwise the ENTJ can synthetically keep themselves playing a small game, distracted by the here-and-now, unable to sympathize with other people in any way and stuck in behaviors which don’t serve them.

This last point is doubly true since their blind spot is Authenticity, the 3 Yr Old in the car model.

Authenticity is technically called Introverted Feeling, which also requires going inward. For an ENTJ that may be avoiding some less than desirable feelings (which could point to any untended emotional trauma), and internal ‘spelunking’ may be the last thing they want to do.

A full stop avoidance of the inner world means doubling down on Effectiveness and Sensation. As a tag team these two will massively over rely on what works and what’s pressing in the moment. Caught in that loop there’s no real ability to evaluate a strategy that may be working for the moment but is a long-range disaster.

The ENTJ gains distraction but loses sustainability. And the world can suffer for it, if the ENTJ has positioned themselves in a place of responsibility.

The Advantage of “Inner Work”

Again, Authenticity (the 3 Yr Old blind spot) is what encourages us to honor the subjective human experience. That means making choices which may not increase the bottom line but instead keeps us from being dicks to other people. Ergo, “let’s not dump toxic waste upriver from that small village.”

If an ENTJ is avoiding their Authenticity process for fear that There Be Dragons, they may ignore all messages from it. Another phrase for this is ‘ignoring the conscience’. And if the Effectiveness/Sensation loop has its way, fuck the village.

The good news is that developing the Perspectives process is a great way to deal with the dragons without being overwhelmed by emotions.

Remember, Introverted Intuition is always on some level divorced from its own perspective. That means being able to observe some of the more painful issues from a safe distance and figure out what to do with them.

Are you an ENTJ who had a total asshat for a father? Well, what are going to do about it? Will you let all that damage run around inside of you like a bull in a china shop, pretending it doesn’t exist? Or, will you figure out a way to make peace with it by pattern recognizing and conceptualizing forgiveness?

You don’t have to join a Storm Clearing circle and talk about your feelings (though such a group would appeal to you more than you think). You can be philosophical in your approach and simply recognize that you can be both affected by your past and not chained to it. And the trim tab is the Perspectives Co-Pilot.

ENTJ Women:

personalityhacker.com_meditate-womanMy observation has been that ENTJ women are a lot more open to developing the more ‘woo-woo’ components of Perspectives, maybe because there’s less social stigma for them. This definitely serves them, since everything else about being an ENTJ woman can feel kinda sucky. If you’re an ENTJ woman – it may feel like the whole world is keeping you from reaching your potential. I’m happy to inform you this is complete bullshit.

The Effectiveness process can’t help but check in with social protocol, since that’s a component in determining pass/fail. But Perspectives allows you to get away from that, understanding implications and meaning separate from other people. As a fellow ENTx woman, I highly recommend you get some distance and decide you truly don’t care about societal expectations. The world increasingly moves in a direction where these glass ceilings are irrelevant (though they still exist to some extent, I know). And, honestly? We’ve got (in large part) ENTJ women of the past to thank for that.

Oh, and if you’re straight and single and dating has been an issue let me assure you: there’s tons of dudes who are into powerful women like you. They’re the artistic type. Their masculinity isn’t the machismo kind, it’s the kind that comes out during emotionally explosive situations, sex, and other contexts. Highly recommended.

I’ll wrap this up since (if you’re an ENTJ) you’ve got things to do and countries to run, but I just want to take a moment to thank you for being an imperative part of the social ecosystem.

If you love an ENTJ, understand there are incredible depths there. Take the time to appreciate them.

And while this may or may not be meaningful to you, please know that your celebrated natural abilities (including being able to position yourself) helps you be an ambassador for Intuitives everywhere. And I thank you for that.


p.s. I lied about the bullet points. I think it’s going to be okay.


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Showing 9 comments
  • Jordan

    “Forecasting, future pacing, perspective shifting and openness to things that aren’t ‘observably, empirically provable’ are all extremely important. Otherwise the ENTJ can synthetically keep themselves playing a small game.”

    This was my favorite part of the article. I think it hits on what ENTJ’s Ni is built for: dreaming big. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but my Ni is most active and excitable by the prospect of making a tremendous difference in the world. And when I finished reading that to avoid Ni is to be “playing a small game,” it hit me. It was well-written. My biggest fear is getting to the end of my life and finding out I was playing a small game: I wasn’t making the contribution I thought I was; I was fighting hard for something ultimately inconsequential.

    And I must say, I felt betrayed by the lack of bullet points. Thoroughly disappointing. But I guess being quoted can make up for it :P.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the comment, Jordan! So, you’re the one who made the ‘hippie’ remark? Haha!

  • John

    I initially believed myself to be an ENTP because of my lack of physical organization — messy home etc. — but as I’ve learned more about Effectiveness/Perspectives vs Exploration/Accuracy, I realize that of the two very different cognitive stacks the former is the one that I use.

    My question now is: how does an ENTJ survive being a parent? I find it intensely boring and meaningless, and have ended up traveling 50%+ for work to survive the grind of being a dad. I’ve never been so bored as when I’m hanging out with toddlers. There hasn’t been 1 day that it’s felt worth the costs to me. For comparison, I have my teeth drilled without Novocain because I hate the four hours after getting fillings when I can’t use half my face. A couple days ago I was at home with the kids (3 year old twins, one autistic, which is at least kind of interesting) and I realized with excitement that I had a dental appointment that day that would give me an excuse to get away. It’s the first thing I’ve come up against in life that I can’t handle. Nobody seems to feel the same. Are marriage and parenting tough for other entjs?

    • LL

      I’m an ENTJ woman. I’m not a parent, but I did grow up helping take care of my much younger siblings, I’ve worked extensively as a nanny and a tutor for kids of all ages, and all my friends with kids have dubbed me the “toddler whisperer”. I find that spending all day with small children can certainly be boring or frustrating at times, so I understand where you’re coming from. I think the absolute KEY to not just surviving children, but finding joy and happiness in the experience, is really to get into kids’ heads – using that “perspectives” co-pilot strength- to see what motivates and excites kids of different ages or personalities, and figure out what will stir their sense of wonder (because kids’ sense of wonder is the magical part and is what makes the diapers/crying/etc feel worth it).

      For example, I find that toddlers/preschoolers are really fascinated by patterns around them, particularly the daily rituals that adults engage in. They are very excited to imitate these patterns and “play adult”. Why else would toy stores sell those teeny tiny fake vacuum cleaners, or the ever-popular little kitchen sets, complete with fake sauce pans and plastic food?

      Instead of seeing a 2 or 3 year old who is getting underfoot when you’re trying to make dinner as a problem, give them a job to do and include them in the process. If you’re like me, you are extremely goal-oriented. Can you switch the goal from “getting dinner ready ASAP” to “including the kids in dinner prep as much as possible?” Break down the processes into their components (your ENTJ nature should help you do this pretty effectively!) and include them wherever possible. Let them help wash the veggies, then push a chair up the counter so they can watch you cut them; let them put the pieces into a bowl, and let them sprinkle the (pre-measured) spices on top. Explain what you’re doing at each step of the process. Then watch how they find delight and wonder in learning and participating. A 3 year old can be absolutely fascinated by the inside of a bell pepper. Have you ever stopped to look at one yourself – to put yourself in their shoes and find yourself in awe at something so small and ordinary as if it’s new and exciting? It makes the process SO much more fun. You’ll feel less like you’re stuck, and more like you’re a part of something beautiful – helping a tiny little person gain a new experience and learn how to operate in the world. Plus, you get to be in charge of the whole process of educating them, which I know appeals to my take-charge ENTJ personality! The older the kids get, the more I try to include them in the daily household chores or events – it makes it more interesting for me, more fun for them, and hey – bonus! – it prepares them to help with chores on a regular basis from an early age, which teaches responsibility, team-work and respect for others. Good luck, and hang in there! Treasure the small moments you can find in the midst of it all – they won’t be young forever.

  • Kelly


    I highly appreciate the honesty of your writing. Your ability to say what all the mambo-jumbo really means in a bold way is crucial, and takes intelligence. I recently discovered I am ENTJ (which is what I tested as in High School) but have thought I was an ExFP during the past few years (college… Shocker.. Lots of Se in use). Several descriptions such as “warm” etc. left me skeptical about how accurate the assessments really are. One theory I have is my ability to shift perspectives into someone else’s thinking helps me to manipulate the test into the results I want. I am extremely interested in a professional profiling session.

  • Betterment

    This is too less! I am INFP, though. Please, can’t there be some on ENTJ relationships?

  • Lisa C

    Wow – I just figured out that my husband of 17 years is one of these guys and it explains so much! It makes me laugh (I’m an ENFP so I like to laugh) that he would rather be effective than loved and that authenticity is his 3 year old. Surprise surprise! Thankfully we are very happy together – maybe because I’ve always known that gruff exterior hides a tender-hearted teddy bear underneath. We have a son who is an INTP and you can imagine how that is working out, I’m trying to get him to see that our son isn’t LAZY but is brilliant. Sigh. And of course my husband doesn’t believe in personality types and doesn’t want to hear any of this, but although he’ll never be interested in figuring me out, I’m more than curious about him and this info helps tremendously! Thanks so much!

  • INTP

    So my brother is most likely an ENTJ (he read the description and seemed to identify with it but does not care about this stuff at all). He’s immensely popular with his peers, but he definitely gets utterly frustrated with people’s emotions in the sense that he expects people to explain to him what he can do to stop being “insensitive.” I think that’s “effectiveness” in practice: Tell me how to fix it or your opinion has no value.

    My ESFJ mom definitely had difficult time raising the two of us (ENTJ boy and INTP girl); but we get along pretty well. He is a better planner and is the “I told you so,” person. While I’m the “Are you sure about that?” person. Sometimes we drive each other up a wall. Mostly because he thinks I’m being hair splitting and I think he’s ignoring a vital detail or an exception (Dominant Te vs Ti). Also, sometimes I get angry at his insensitivity, and he can’t handle my emotional outbursts (inferior fi vs fe).

    Other than that… it’s a nice sibling relationship. I guess it could be worse; I could have a sensor sibling, and I’d feel even more alienated.

  • Sophist

    INTP, here. I have a sensor sibling (ISFJ), and boy….- As a young child, she was extremely pampered by my ISFP my; now she suffers from Extreme Victimized Narcissistic Disorder, and so does my mother. My youngest sister (INFP) gets along with pretty well, and is generally liked in the house because she can putting up with their shallow sensor feelings. I am demonized in my household, and made out to be a villain because of my radical honesty. My Ti is ALWAYS in EXTREME use, so it creates for ruthless amounts of truth with no understanding of my impartiality. Being an ISFJ makes it even worse, as her need to be a “shallow crybaby” is prevalent. I try to explain to her, my younger dimpling (ISFJ) that she is selfish, with a “princess complex; impartially, but she just goes into bitter bitch rage and silences me with parental coercion. That’s the thing I HATE the most. It’s not that she is immature only, I can live that, but she uses my all ready wrongfully agreeing mother to silence me when I attempt to debate her. I have NO respect for those who silence others for sayings things they don’t want to here. She is even arrogant to think that I am being a “hypocrite” because I speak my “harmful opinion s”. But yet if I am such a hypocrite, how come I am willing to rationally debate that notive and you won’t? You accept that there is nothing wrong with you, and the world is against you as you do know wrong? She thinks the world is out to get her, and does my mom. They think I am being pompous, know it all, and “with their low minded audacity” “pseudo intelligent”; with my Ne co-pilot in high amounts of usage as well! My INFP sister cares to much for our family, and tries to deny they’re horrible conditions, but now she is coming around. Luckily, I am a senior, so I am leaving real soon. As I live in an Orwellian nightmare created by my mother… Yay me… – Did I mention that if I do not agree with my mothers extremely ideologue political views, I get silenced. I even live in a political nightmare, though it’s not hard to see, and same for you.

    Basically a sensor sibling. Be lucky for your pompous and arrogant sibling. At least he is smart, rational, and intuitive.

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