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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  • Roberto
    • Roberto
    • October 1, 2019 at 6:25 pm

    Thanks for the reading, I’m getting back to command those things who can’t stop talking…they call themselves humans, or so I’ve heard. Anyway, back to masterminding!

  • Gabrielle A Yoder
    • Gabrielle A Yoder
    • December 6, 2018 at 7:52 pm
    - I feel terribly betrayed by the lack of bullet points. I kept looking but they never appeared. Clever trick. - I’ve noticed more fellow women holding me back over the years than men so take that, 3rd wave feminism! - I love my INTP husband very much. I suggest an INTP for all ENTJs since sometimes we need to step out before we explode and they’re very understanding but not too clingy. He also let’s me run everything. Mine is also an artist so good call, author! - As an ENTJ mother of four children I heartily recommend developing those intuitive traits as well as purging your inner parent tapes (to go Bradshaw for a second) so you don’t destroy your offspring’s fragile minds. I’m still the hard-ass mom with a wooden spoon in one hand, but I give a lot of hugs and say I love you multiple times per day while I tell them to double time it. - Learn to say no and don’t feel guilty before you have a physical collapse like I did. They totally suck. I hate being weak and inefficient and there’s no way to do anything if you can’t move your body for weeks at a time. Better to take that extra hour each day than to be forced into it. Logic speaking there, better recognize.
  • Audrey
    • Audrey
    • April 19, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    I love this article! I’ve been thinking a lot about not just what personality I am but how my personality has changed. I was once an ENFJ (and I was like the perfect ENFJ), I went two years without taking the test and then tested as an ENTJ. At the time I was super insecure and didn’t find much interest in the personality test as no longer being an F really threw me for a loop (made me feel guilty and bad about myself also made me wonder if I had lost myself or just changed) and I wasn’t interested or even able to do that level of introspection at the time (shocker). I didn’t have the patience and had too much to do. Recently I found these tests all over again and I’ve been obsessed this semester.
    Something I’m totally obsessed with is your advice to female ENTJs. Basically, this is exactly what I knew I needed to do in order to find myself again and I spent the summer and first semester really doing this and what ended up happening is that I now test as an ENTP. This definetely describes me right now and I feel like it all makes sense at least for right now. I think I felt socially conditioned in the past to care about time and schedules more than I’m actually able to and that was really holding me back. I think that effectiveness was keeping me from developing authenticity for sure.
    And the thing you said about dating! I was in a relationship as an ENTJ and my partner was an ISTP and honestly I have never had anyone make me feel so bad about myself for not fitting their expectations of a girl. This man really had me thinking I was some kind of alien to him. No idea why he was with me in the first place, but then again idk why I was with him, but I stayed for the distraction!
    One more thing that’s so interesting is how my roommate is an ENTJ and she has a lot in common with the ENTJ version of me. She also suffers from identity problems and is trying to escape her feelings from the past. I’d love to make her read this article but She isnt even interested in retaking the test. hopefully soon she’ll have a breakthrough because she really needs the advice in here.

  • Antonia Dodge
    • Antonia Dodge
    • April 4, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Where’s the eye roll emoji. :p


  • Dude
    • Dude
    • April 4, 2018 at 6:40 am

    i wanted bullet points. It was too long and too fluffy

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