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.
My 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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