ENTJ -Personality or Purpose

I was never a big fan of Personality Theories.  They seemed just a little too cute, concise, and predictive in a world that seemed to be anything but cute, concise, or predictable.  Over the years in various educational and corporate settings, I have undergone testing using several personality typing schemas.  The most common and widely referenced personality typing system is probably Myers-Briggs.  Recently I have had several counseling professional friends reference my ENTJ personality, recognizing it from their own study and work with MB typing and empathizing with me in my sense that I do not experience life in a “typical” way.   “Duh,” they say, “you aren’t typical.”  What?  I feel as generic as vanilla ice cream.  But when I am honest with them and with myself, I know that most of the world doesn’t operate the way I do, or think like I do, or have the same drive and desires that I do.  And that can lead to moments when I feel very much like the zebra in the herd of horses, as I have described it in the past.

Alas, I apparently have the dubious “gift” of being an ENTJ personality (extraversion, intuition, thinking, judgment).

ENTJs, one can discover, are somewhat rare among the 16 personality types, accounting for approximately 2–5% of males formally tested, and only approximately 1-3% of females.  Oh, yeah.  So I’m not part of the 80%, or even part of the 10%.  No, I’m hung out there in that hated, perjoratively derided “ 2% “ category. And although that reputation of the nasty and selfish, detestable “2%” group is used generally to describe those in particular income percentiles as a term by politicos to describe the people they blame for all the world’s problems, those of us in the psychologically profiled personality 2% category seem to be equally misunderstood and of questionable value to all the other 98% of the personality types in society.  One reason the ENTJs tend to be solitary, entrepreneurial “eagle” types is that they are particularly outspoken, can be insensitive to the feelings of others, and don’t always get along well in a henhouse.

I and my fellow ENTJs are described in various sources as “driven, motivating, energetic, assertive, influential, organized, confident, and competitive, taking a big-picture view of the world, and builders of long-term strategies…….They typically know what they want and may mobilize others to help them attain their goals. ENTJs often possess an innate ability to direct groups of people. They may sometimes judge others by their own tough standards, failing to take personal needs into account. In addition, since the ENTJ type is unusually skilled in persuasion, subjects with this type of personality can be negatively perceived as being manipulative…. because they are generally skilled and persuasive communicators, especially in person”

Others have said, “They live in a world of possibilities where they see all sorts of challenges to be surmounted, and they are happy to take on the task of surmounting them. They are quick to grasp complexities, can absorb a large amount of impersonal information, and make quick and decisive judgments. They are perceived as “take charge” people.

They are constantly scanning their environment for potential problems which they can turn into an opportunity for solutions. They’re tireless in their efforts on the job, and driven to visualize where a team or group is headed.”

Surprise!  There is not much room for error in the world of ENTJs. They dislike seeing mistakes repeated, and have little patience with inefficiency. They can easily become harsh when their patience is tried in these respects.  They are not naturally tuned in to people’s feelings, and more than likely don’t believe that they should tailor their judgments for the benefit of others’ feelings, but are driven by the truth of the reality that they perceive.  ENTJs, like many dominant types, have difficulty seeing things from outside their own perspective and may have little patience with people who will not see things from their perspective.  The ENTJ may struggle to recognize the value of other people’s opinions, as well as the value of being sensitive toward people’s feelings.  When this awareness is compromised by stress, the ENTJ will likely be forceful, intimidating and overbearing.  It can make them difficult to work with in collaborative situations, but they are adept at recognizing when they are being deprived of important information in collaboration with others and are quite willing to pursue their goals without the cooperation of others in such cases, quick to circumvent what they perceive as obstacles put up by others.

The ENTJs may have a lot of personal power and presence which will work for them as a force towards achieving their goals. However, this personal power is also an agent of alienation and self-aggrandizement, which the ENTJ would do well to avoid.

ENTJs are forceful, decisive individuals. They make decisions quickly, and are quick to verbalize their opinions and decisions to the rest of the world.   An ENTJ who has developed less than ideal habits may become dictatorial and abrasive – intrusively giving orders and direction without a sound reason for doing so, and without consideration for the people involved.

Although ENTJs are not naturally tuned into other people’s feelings, these individuals frequently have very strong sentimental streaks.  This sentimentality is powerful to the ENTJ, although one will likely hide it, believing the feelings to be a weakness. The world of feelings and values is not where the ENTJ naturally functions.  An ENTJ may sometimes make value judgments and hold onto submerged emotions which are ill-founded and unchallenged and that may cause problems.

ENTJs love to interact with people. As Extroverts, they’re energized and stimulated primarily externally. There’s nothing more enjoyable and satisfying to the ENTJ than having a lively, challenging conversation. They especially respect people who are able to stand up to the ENTJ, and argue persuasively for their point of view. There aren’t too many people who will do so, however, because the ENTJ is a forceful and dynamic presence who is self-confident and a skillful verbal communicator. Even the most confident individuals may experience moments of self-doubt when debating a point with an ENTJ.

ENTJs enjoy a home that is beautiful, well-furnished, and efficient. They’re likely to place emphasis on their children being well-educated and structured and to desire a congenial and devoted relationship with their spouse. At home, the ENTJ needs to be in charge as much as he or she does in their career. The ENTJ is likely best paired with someone who has a strong self-image, who is also a Thinking type. Because the ENTJ is primarily focused on career, some ENTJs have a problem with being frequently  absent from home, physically or mentally.

The ENTJ has many gifts which make it possible for them to have a great deal of personal power, if they don’t forget to remain balanced in their lives. They are assertive, innovative, long-range thinkers with an excellent ability to translate theories and possibilities into solid plans of action. They usually have or can secure the tools to accomplish whatever goals they set.

People with this personality type have gifts of charisma and confidence, and project authority in a way that draws crowds together behind a common goal. But unlike their Feeling (F) counterpart, ENTJs are characterized by an often ruthless level of rationality, using their drive, determination and sharp minds to achieve whatever end they’ve set for themselves or the group they lead. Perhaps it is best that they make up only one to three percent of the population, lest they overwhelm the more timid and sensitive personality types that make up much of the rest of the world – but we have ENTJs to thank for many of the businesses and institutions we take for granted every day.

If there’s anything ENTJs love, it’s a good challenge, big or small, and they firmly believe that given enough time and resources, they can achieve any goal. This quality makes people with the ENTJ personality type good entrepreneurs, and their ability to think strategically and hold a long-term focus while executing each step of their plans with determination and precision makes them good business leaders. This determination can result in ENTJs pushing their goals through with sheer willpower where others might give up and move on, and their Extroverted (E) nature means they are likely to push everyone else right along with them, achieving spectacular results in the process.

At the negotiating table ENTJs are dominant, determined, and unforgiving. This isn’t because they are coldhearted or vicious  – it’s more that ENTJ personalities genuinely enjoy the challenge, the battle of wits, the repartee that comes from competition, and if the other side can’t keep up, that’s no reason for ENTJs to fold on their own core tenet of pursuing victory.

The underlying thought running through the ENTJ mind might be something like “I don’t care if you call me an insensitive b**** as long as I remain an efficient b****”.”   (OUCH!  That’s a bit brutal in describing the extreme expression of an ENTJ’s tendency toward efficiency and away from emotional sensitivity!  I don’t think I’ve been quite that insensitive.)

If there’s anyone ENTJs respect, it’s someone who is able to stand up to them intellectually, who is able to act with precision and quality equal to their own. ENTJ personalities have a particular skill in recognizing the talents of others, and this helps in both their team-building efforts (since no one, no matter how gifted, can do everything alone), and to keep ENTJs humble and collaborative. However, they can also have a particular skill in calling out others’ failures with a chilling degree of insensitivity, and this is where ENTJs can really run into trouble.

Emotional expression isn’t the strong suit of any Analyst (NT) type, but because of their Extroverted (E) nature, ENTJs’ distance from their emotions is especially public, and felt directly by a much broader swath of people. Especially in a professional environment, ENTJs will simply crush the sensitivities of those they view as inefficient, incompetent or lazy. To people with the ENTJ personality type, emotional displays are displays of weakness, and it’s easy to make enemies with this approach – ENTJs will do well to remember that they absolutely depend on having a functioning team, not just to achieve their goals, but for their validation and feedback as well, something ENTJs are, curiously, very sensitive to.

ENTJs can be powerhouses, and they cultivate an image of being larger than life – and many times, they are. They need to remember though, that their stature comes not just from their own actions, but from the actions of the team that props them up, and that it’s important to recognize the contributions, talents and needs, especially from an emotional perspective, of their support network. If ENTJs are able to combine an emotionally healthy focus alongside their other strengths, they will be rewarded with deep, satisfying relationships and all the challenging victories they can handle.

Some well known ENTJs are:

Steve Jobs

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Napoleon Bonaparte

Golda Meir

Julius Caesar

George C. Marshall

Richard M. Nixon

Harrison Ford

Steve Martin

Whoopi Goldberg

Margaret Thatcher

Al Gore

Jim Carrey


ENTJ Strengths

  • Efficient – ENTJs see inefficiency not just as a problem in its own right, but as something that pulls time and energy away from all their future goals, an elaborate sabotage consisting of irrationality and laziness. People with the ENTJ personality type will root out such behavior wherever they go.
  • Energetic – Rather than finding this process taxing ENTJs are energized by it, genuinely enjoying leading their teams forward as they implement plans and goals.
  • Self-Confident – ENTJs couldn’t do this if they were plagued by self-doubt – they trust their abilities, make known their opinions, and believe in their capacities.
  • Strong-Willed – Nor do they give up when the going gets tough – ENTJ personalities strive to achieve their goals, but really nothing is quite as satisfying to them as rising to the challenge of each obstacle in their run to the finish line.
  • Strategic Thinkers – ENTJs exemplify the difference between moment-to-moment crisis management and navigating the challenges and steps of a bigger plan, and are known for examining every angle of a problem and not just resolving momentary issues, but moving the whole project forward with their solutions.
  • Charismatic and Inspiring – These qualities combine to create individuals who are able to inspire and invigorate others, who people actually want to be their leaders, and this in turn helps ENTJs to accomplish goals that could never be finished alone.

ENTJ Weaknesses

  • Stubborn and Dominant – Sometimes all this confidence and willpower can go too far, and ENTJs are all too capable of digging in their heels, trying to win every single debate and pushing their vision, and theirs alone.
  • Intolerant – “It’s my way or the highway” – People with the ENTJ personality type are notoriously unsupportive of any idea that distracts from their primary goals, and even more so of ideas based on emotional considerations. ENTJs won’t hesitate a second to make that fact clear to those around them.
  • Impatient – Some people need more time to think than others, an intolerable delay to quick-thinking ENTJs. They may misinterpret contemplation as stupidity or disinterest in their haste, a terrible mistake for a leader to make.
  • Arrogant – ENTJ personalities respect quick thoughts and firm convictions, their own qualities, and may look with disdain on those who don’t match up. This relationship is a challenge for most other personality types who are perhaps not timid in their own right, but will seem so beside overbearing ENTJs.
  • Poor Handling of Emotions – Strong personal presence and the assumed supremacy of rationalism, makes ENTJs distant from their own emotional expression and sometimes downright scornful of others’. People with this personality type may trample others’ feelings, inadvertently hurting others, especially in emotionally charged situations.
  • Cold and Ruthless – Their obsession with efficiency and unwavering belief in the merits of rationalism makes ENTJs insensitive in pursuing goals, dismissing personal circumstances, sensitivities, and preferences as irrational and irrelevant in pursuit of the goal.

For ENTJs, failure is not an option – they conceive a vision of the future, formulate a strategy to achieve that vision, and execute each step with determined precision.

Career choices for an ENTJ might include any position high enough that one can clearly see the horizon to set a vision for the direction to go.  Many excel as

Organization Builder


Computer Consultant



Business Administrator

University Professor


Hmmmmmmm,  all of this points to certain strengths and weaknesses.  Counselor and clergy are not mentioned in any ENTJ career reports I’ve seen.  How did I wind up here?  It HAS to be by God’s design.  And there HAS to be a purpose.  When dealing with the personalities that I find in the work to which I am called, a strong sense of personal power and the ability to communicate persuasively is absolutely necessary!


The professionals agree that ENTJ Personality types are a complex concept.  When becoming acquainted with one’s ENTJ type, she may mutter to herself,  “wow, this is so accurate it’s a little creepy” or “finally, someone understands me!”  One may even ask “how can the psychologists know more about me than the people I’m closest to?”

This is not a trick.  Psychologists have studied how ENTJs think and what they need, as they have with the other 15 personality types, too.

Regardless of one’s personality type, each of us who has a sense of calling, with a desire to be intentional and purposeful, desiring to know and follow God’s will and be used for his purpose and glory, needs to have a plan, a personal roadmap.  Knowing the ways in which one is “powered” and “equipped” can help with that.  But as much as anything, no matter what one’s personality that has arisen as a function of one’s soul and is created by God, each person needs to allow God to guide her in the day to day expression of the strengths and restraint of the weaknesses.

This week I’ve been directed by different people to scriptures in MIcah, Habakkuk, Jeremiah, and Isaiah……..each of whom exemplified aspects of the ENTJ personality, too, it seems.  Like Micah, I feel the need to call for justice;  like Habakkuk I find myself standing at the watch, waiting and confident that God will act; like Jeremiah, I find myself directed to object lessons at times and other times thrown into holes and forgotten; and like Isaiah, I am terrified and broken in the presence of the mighty and holy God.  However God has created me, I know that I am his to be used as he wishes.  And that, makes me happy and content with whatever comes.

(With content excerpted from 16personalities.com)


Addendum: (June 16,2022)
As part of my failed deacon ordination journey in the UMC a couple of years after my first psych eval I was required to be evaluated a second time in 2015 by a different licensed mental health professional than before. The letter to her stated explicitly what DSM diagnoses to investigate. We met several times and at one point she looked at me somewhat incredulously and said, “They really don’t know you, do they?”  “Not at all”, I replied. Her report on me to the Board had to have caused them some heartburn. She found no indication of DSM disorders and was complimentary in the report.

She also expressed sympathy for the situation in which I found myself, recognizing the gauntlet and hoops and cones one has to maneuver through as part of The UMC’s sausage-making process and having a husband herself who had, at one point, been a UMC pastor.

Reading about the activities of Annual Conference this week, the season of annual conferences now signaling the beginning of The UMC’s long-anticipated unraveling, has brought back some of those memories.
Such moments as that are etched in stone, now with far more gratitude to God than regret for having been kept from association with some of the spiritually blind persons for whom I feel pity more than anything. The fact that my ministry activity has been helped rather than hindered by NOT being a deacon in The UMC, only makes the release from it that God had given me in the final months all the more valued. The sweetness of the Lord’s presence with me through all those years of preparation and obstacles, the surprising ways He revealed Himself to me, the insights gained and lessons learned…. all of those are things I treasure in my heart and the fruit of which continue to show me that God’s plan all along has been perfect!