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ESTJ - ENTJ difference

There are many people online and in real life confusing ESTJs for ENTJs. It happens so frequently that I decided to write an article about it.

Now, I don't blame them because I can see why someone would confuse the two:

  • both value knowledge, skill and objectivity
  • both are usually very responsible and punctual
  • ESTJs have extroverted intuition as their 3rd function so they are usually comfortable talking about theories, especially if they are well educated
  • both are good with words and know how to express their thoughts unambiguously
  • there are many ESTJs and ENTJs in the corporate world, usually both filling leadership and managerial roles
  • both are direct and straightforward and so on...

Another thing to mention is that every job interview nowadays seems to look for creative, global big picture thinkers, who are innovative and all that supposedly intuitive stuff which makes ESTJs want to be like that. It often makes them think they ARE intuitive if they can plan for the future or think abstractly. This is often a misconception for many other types as well. However useful and fascinating it may be, MBTI is fertile ground for stereotyping and prejudice and the fact that a lot of people don't know how to objectively describe or assess themselves doesn't help either. Fake (free) MBTI tests have also helped create a misconception that intuitives are more creative, understand the world better or that they are more intelligent. Intuition and sensing is not about skill, it's about preference.

All this gives you a pretty good picture of why the confusion between S and N happens and why people are skewed towards identifying as intuitives.

ENTJs are often the nerds, not the bullies

ENTJs are often the nerds, not the bullies

So what makes these two personality types different?

There are many differences, most of which obviously stem from the N-S difference. ESTJ and ENTJ are both dominant extroverted thinkers (The) but the ESTJs thinking is supported by information gathered through introverted sensing (Si) and the ENTJs thinking is supported by introverted intuition (Ni).

What does this really mean?

In simple terms it means ESTJs are more externally stimulated because of the very nature of the sensing preference, while ENTJs are more introspective (some of them may even appear introverted because of that).

Sense of the moment and ways of thinking

Another difference is that ESTJs are focused more on the current moment and immediate issues that need to be done while ENTJs may suffer from disregarding the here and now in favor of their vision of the future or just in favor of a some delusion of superiority (intuition is good at creating fantasy worlds which are not always useful).

Some ENTJs may find themselves living an aesthetically and physically bland life because of too much focus on theories, ideals and future possibilities (which may or may not bring them glory in the future).

In terms of thinking and interacting with the world ENTJs are more strategic and diplomatic, while ESTJs focus more on logistics and tactics.

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ESTJ motivational poster

ESTJ motivational poster

ESTJ ENTJ conflict resolution

Although both of them see conflict as a normal part of life, from my experience ESTJs tend to get "worked up" more in conflict and it's easier to get them angry. On the other side, ENTJs are more cool headed and they often engage in conflict of opinion or push people's buttons in order to learn something new (either about the person, or information the person knows).

When an ESTJ is angry they will be more expressive about it. ESTJs are extremely friendly people (especially with strangers) but when you push their buttons be ready for an explosion.  On the other hand, when an ENTJ is angry he/she will usually show anger through use of sarcasm.

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Andrew on December 14, 2012:

Super friendly to strangers but if I'm around people to long my temper ruptures a lot I don't like being messed with so tempers on the dot and I'm estj

Kimberly on February 21, 2012:

Pretty much on target. Good job. I especially agree with what you posted on the ESTJ anger. I am an ESTJ and it takes a LOT for me to get angry, but when I do....everyone (especially my kids) say that I am actually very scary. I don't mean to be, but that's what happens when I get pushed to a certain boiling point. I always try to be friendly to strangers too! LOL.

Again, thank you for your commentary. from upstate, NY on February 04, 2011:

My father is an ENTJ and my mother and brother is an ESTJ. I believe your analysis is on the money. The anger issue with the ESTJ is true, I've seen it first hand. It is true that the descriptions of the intuitive personalities seem more interesting than those with sensing preferences but as you said that doesn't mean that people with sensing preferences can't be effective using intuition. Isabel Myers Briggs herself was an INFP which may have effected her bias towards the intuitive personalities.

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