ENTJ Personality: Traits, Relationships, Career Matches
ENTJs are highly organized, disciplined, and have a plan for everything.
What’s behind ENTJs’ persistence in planning, organizing, and magically creating order out of chaos? We’ll use research that connects personality types to the Big Five personality dimensions to understand the underlying traits ENTJs have in common.
If you’re reading this, you may already be familiar with popular personality type-based systems like the 16 personalities or Myers-Briggs types. Personality types categorize people into types (like the ENTJ) as a way of describing common features of their personality. While personality types are simple to understand, they are much less precise than the trait-based approach used by personality researchers and scientists.
Trait-based systems, like the Big Five personality framework, measure the unique differences between people on several underlying dimensions, rather than lumping individuals into types. In a trait-based approach, no two people are exactly the same.
In this post, we’ll combine these approaches to understand the personality traits that most ENTJs have in common, and see how these traits relate to several life outcomes and behaviors.
The ENTJ personality type
According to popular personality typology, every type has its own four-letter code, which describes how that type likes to interact with the world: Introverted vs. Extraverted, Intuitive vs. Sensing, Feeling vs. Thinking, and Judging vs. Perceiving.
According to this system, the ENTJ prefers:
- Extraversion: oriented towards the external world, rather than the internal world
- Intuition: oriented towards learning through internal intuition over sensory experience
- Thinking: oriented towards judging new information through logical analysis, rather than by its emotional qualities and impact
- Judging: oriented towards immediately organizing, categorizing, and processing new information
Researchers have identified statistical relationships between each of these preferences and the Big Five personality dimensions. Leaning on this same research, we can link the preferences of the ENTJ type to the Big Five dimensions and several related life outcomes.
ENTJ personality traits
The Big Five framework describes differences in personality along five broad dimensions: Openness To Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
No two ENTJs will have exactly the same underlying personality traits, as personality types tend to be a large oversimplification of an individual’s personality. But we can where ENTJs generally fall on important traits, and these group patterns can clarify why certain types are known for specific kinds of behaviors or ways of thinking.
The graph below shows how ENTJs are distributed along each Big Five dimension. Every blue dot is an individual ENTJ, and the darker blue areas show the areas where more ENTJs tend to fall.
One common pattern in ENTJs is high conscientiousness — ENTJs are usually organized, systematic, and follow a regular routine. This matches what we see in the graph above on the Conscientiousness dimension. Most ENTJs sit at the high end of the Conscientiousness dimension, with very few falling near the average and almost none falling below average.
Taking a similar approach to all Big Five dimensions, we can summarize the patterns of the ENTJ along these traits, and then use existing research on the Big Five to see how these patterns are related to several areas of life, like career interests, relationship styles, and daily habits.
This kind of analysis is useful for understanding a large group, like ENTJs. But to better understand a single individual, there’s really no need to use a personality type if you can directly measure one’s underlying personality traits. Fortunately, you can easily get such measurements with the free personality test here at TraitLab.
ENTJs are higher on Openness to Experience
Most ENTJs are higher on Openness to Experience.
People who are highly open to experience, like many ENTJs, often crave intellectual stimulation and engagement, and they tend to seek out new experiences to satisfy this need. They usually place high value on learning new things or about varying perspectives on a topic. In a group, ENTJs will often be the ones to turn the conversation towards more philosophical, abstract, or “big picture” questions.
ENTJs, like other highly open people, usually appreciate the new, offbeat, unconventional ways of doing things compared to the more traditional and conventional ways. They find opportunities to challenge their own understanding and perspectives, and may enjoy getting lost in an interesting book or a moving piece of art.
ENTJs are very high on Conscientiousness
Most ENTJs are at the high end of Conscientiousness.
Out of all of the 16 personality types, ENTJs are consistently the most conscientious. Conscientiousness describes our tendency to be highly organized and systematic in our approach to goals, and our discipline in sticking to those plans to achieve them.
ENTJs are likely to set explicit goals in many areas of their lives — work, fitness, diet, relationships, and so on. They enjoy making detailed plans to accomplish these goals over time, and they often show tremendous self-discipline in their quests to accomplish these goals.
Highly conscientious people, like most ENTJs, often keep tidy spaces, too. It’s not unusual for an ENTJ to have extremely organized desks, rooms, and other personal areas.
Lastly, most ENTJs will be very punctual and rarely late. Sticking to a regular routine is often a key component of ENTJs’ highly systematic habits.
ENTJs are higher on Extraversion
ENTJs are usually more extraverted, but a few exceptions are on the more introverted side.
Most ENTJs score above average on Big Five Extraversion, which describes our enthusiasm, expressiveness, assertiveness, and positive emotionality.
More extraverted people, like many ENTJs, are generally more enthusiastic and gravitate to highly stimulating experiences and environments. They generally prefer adventurous, fun, and exciting situations over subdued, calm, and peaceful settings.
This need for stimulation carries over to the social world, too, as ENTJs and other extraverts often become highly engaged in social situations. They don’t mind a crowd, and will usually talk, laugh, and interact with more people and greater intensity than their introverted counterparts.
ENTJs are varied on Agreeableness
ENTJs show very little consistency in their level of Agreeableness.
As a group, ENTJs are highly varied in Agreeableness, with some ENTJs falling at the very low end, a few falling near the higher end, and the rest spread out across the spectrum. In effect, simply knowing that someone is an ENTJ tells you almost nothing about their level of Agreeableness. Some ENTJs are highly disagreeable, some are more agreeable, and most are somewhere in between.
Agreeableness describes our balance between maintaining warm, friendly, and positive social relationships with others, versus a need to prioritize our own needs and goals over those of others. Highly agreeable people are empathetic, trusting, and altruistic, and often try to minimize conflicts and maintain social harmony. Highly disagreeable people are more demanding, cynical, and distrustful, and are more likely to pursue their own goals and needs, even if it disrupts their relationships with others.
If you think you might be an ENTJ and are curious about how agreeable you actually are, remember that the free personality test here at TraitLab measures all five Big Five dimensions, including Agreeableness.
ENTJs are often lower on Neuroticism
While ENTJs also vary in their level of Neuroticism, most ENTJs fall on the lower, more emotionally stable end of the Neuroticism spectrum.
Neuroticism describes how we react to stress and our tendency to experience a variety of negative emotions. As most ENTJs are less neurotic or emotionally stable, they tend to have steadier, more predictable moods, and can more easily adapt to life’s sudden changes and disruptions.
Less neurotic people, like most ENTJs, generally experience less anxiety, anger, frustration, and sadness. They still experience these negative emotions, but less frequently and with less intensity than their more neurotic counterparts. Likewise, they tend to ruminate less on bad experiences and are less likely to doubt and second-guess themselves, resulting in a calmer, more confident style of thinking through problems and decision-making.
Rarity of ENTJs
Roughly 8% of people are classified as ENTJ.
As a group, ENTJs are very consistent in their high conscientiousness, but can vary greatly in their interpersonal style.
Highly organized, but open to new ideas
Most ENTJs are highly conscientious and higher in their openness to experience, leading to an unusual combination of high organization and self-discipline balanced by a curiosity in new ways of solving problems.
While ENTJs often love structure and order, their openness makes them less likely to be rigid and inflexible in their approach, and they will often be interested in learning about differing perspectives and incorporate those into their own methods.
Diverse in interpersonal style
ENTJs can vary widely in their level of Extraversion and Agreeableness, two dimensions closely related to our style of interacting with other people. This variation means that simply knowing that someone is an ENTJ tells you very little about their interpersonal style.
To illustrate, consider four individuals, all classified as ENTJs:
- Ella (high Extraversion, high Agreeableness): Friendly, outgoing, and enthusiastic and energetic in social situations
- Neal (low Extraversion, high Agreeableness): Reserved and polite, while genuinely empathetic and concerned for others
- Tara (high Extraversion, low Agreeableness): Bold, assertive, and speaks her mind, even if it hurts some feelings
- James (low Extraversion, low Agreeableness): Withdrawn, aloof, and less interested in others’ problems
How can all of these different interpersonal styles belong to the same personality type? Examples like this demonstrate the weaknesses of type-based systems like 16 personalities or Myers-Briggs types, as simple types often fail to capture important differences between people. Again, this is why TraitLab uses a more rigorous, trait-based approach to measuring personality, so these differences can be captured more precisely.
If you are an ENTJ and wonder if you are more like Ella, Neal, Tara, or James, try the free personality test here at TraitLab and see where you fall on Extraversion and Agreeableness.
ENTJ relationships and interpersonal challenges
Because ENTJs vary so widely in dimensions like Extraversion and Agreeableness, it’s unlikely that any pattern of relationship style or pattern will hold true for a majority of ENTJs. Perhaps what’s most interesting about the ENTJ type is its resistance to being easily described in terms of a particular interpersonal or relationship style.
While many other personality types are highly consistent in the traits related to security, attachment, and avoidance in relationships, ENTJs simply do not show such consistency.
To be clear, any single individual who is classified as an ENTJ is likely to be consistent in their relationship style (i.e., how they seek out, create, and nurture relationships), but as a group, ENTJs do not tend to have a single common style. This is simply another shortcoming of using broad types over a more precise, trait-based approach to describing an individual’s personality.
Adjectives that describe the ENTJ personality
How do other people see and describe ENTJs?
The wordcloud below shows the top 100 words used to describe ENTJs. Bigger words describe the more prominent aspects of ENTJs.
Other people are most likely to notice the highly conscientious nature of most ENTJs. This might be reflected in their intense focus and persistence in work, play, and personal habits, which lead others to see them as self-disciplined, persistent, industrious, consistent, and perfectionistic. Aside from being seen as hard-working, others are likely to notice their high regularity, perhaps describing them as systematic, precise, punctual, steady, and dependable.
ENTJs’ conscientiousness is often balanced with a greater openness to new ideas and experiences, prompting some to see them as not just hard-working drones, but also cultured, refined, inquisitive, witty, and articulate.
Lastly, ENTJs tend to be more extraverted than most, leading to an enthusiasm and energy in most situations described as alert, intense, active, vigorous, and expressive.
These words describe ENTJs as a group, but every individual is slightly different. To see the unique set of words that describes your own personality, try the free personality test here at TraitLab.
ENTJs’ natural tendency to organize, plan, and set goals is a tremendous asset for many careers, particularly in management and administrative roles that must consistently create order out of chaos. ENTJs’ strengths are applicable to management, administrative, or executive roles in almost any industry. These roles will make particularly good fits if they can also tap into ENTJs’ love of learning and their analytical interests.
ENTJ career interests
The chart below shows how the ENTJ personality type is related to eight core career interests: Production, Creativity, Erudition, Altruism, Analysis, Organization, Adventure, and Leadership. Your unique blend of these interests has a huge influence on how well a career feels like it “fits” with your personality.
ENTJs strongest career interest is in Leadership, and they tend to thrive in positions that require taking the lead or influencing other people.
People with strong interests in Leadership fit well in careers that enable them to influence, persuade, and motivate other people. Examples include sales and marketing directors, politicians and political organizers, and executives.
ENTJs often have fairly strong interests in Analysis, meaning they fit well in roles with a heavy emphasis on thinking and working with ideas.
People with strong interests in Analysis enjoy roles that require investigating, researching, and explaining concepts and ideas. Examples include medical researchers, chemists, scientific reporters, and statisticians.
As a group, ENTJs have a weak, but positive interests in Organization. However, some individual ENTJs may find Organization to be their strongest career interest.
People with strong interests in Organization prefer careers that involve categorizing, planning, and systematizing information and processes. Examples include financial officers, budget analysts, office managers, database analysts, and systems administrators.
ENTJs do not consistently have a preference or dislike for Adventure. Any individual ENTJ is likely to be different in their preference for this aspect.
People with strong interests in Adventure prefer careers that involve working outdoors, competition, excitement, risk-taking, and even danger. Examples include police officers, military officers, professional athletes, and bounty hunters.
Like Adventure, ENTJs do not show a consistent pattern of interest in Erudition, meaning that this interest does not tend to have a strong influence on their career preferences.
People with strong interests in Erudition enjoy roles that require mastery of complicated or arcane concepts and information. Examples include translators, editors, research professors, literary scholars, interpreters, and foreign correspondents.
Similarly, ENTJs do not have a consistent pattern of interests in Creativity.
People with strong interests in Creativity prefer jobs that require innovation through artistic and intuitive skills in less structured tasks and environments. Examples include artists, novelists, actor or actresses, musicians, curators, and designers.
ENTJs also have weak, inconsistent interests in Altruism, meaning the careers with some altruistic, helping component are not likely to strongly attract or repel ENTJs as a group.
People with strong interests in Altruism fit well in careers that involve helping, comforting, caring for, and teaching other people. Examples include physical therapists, counselors, clergy, social workers, doctors, and nurses.
ENTJs tend to have a dislike for roles with a strong Production component, meaning they are likely to be less satisfied with roles that emphasize working hands-on, or with tools and machinery, rather than primarily interacting with people or working with ideas.
People with strong interests in Production enjoy careers that allow them to work with their hands or tools to create, repair, or maintain tangible products and things. Examples include farmers, builders, mechanics, forest rangers, and woodworkers.
ENTJ career matches and ENTJ jobs
Examples of careers that fit ENTJs’ broad organizing and analytical strengths:
- Chief Executive
- General Manager / Operations Manager
- Program Director / Project Director / Project Manager
- Engineering Director / Engineering Manager
- Research Director / Research Coordinator
- Product Manager
- Human Resources Manager
- Real Estate Broker
- Public Relations Specialist
- Lawyer / Attorney
Careers to avoid for the ENTJ
ENTJs thrive in roles that let them use their organizing and systematizing strengths from a distance. Roles that require extensive hands-on work in the day-to-day making and building of things can feel too limiting and constraining for many ENTJs. Similarly, positions that are highly focused on interacting with or helping single individuals, rather than organizing and managing a large group, can be underwhelming for the ENTJ.
So, ENTJs might avoid careers that emphasize the hands-on making and doing and or an intense focus on helping and serving other people, such as:
- Manufacturing Engineer
- Automotive Engineer
- Veterinary Technician
- Athletic Trainer
- Nurse Practitioner
- Counseling Psychologist
- Occupational Therapist
- Genetic Counselor
- Substance Abuse / Behavioral Disorder Counselor
- Kindergarten / Middle School / Secondary School Teacher
- Speech-Language Pathologist
- Instructional Coordinator
- Arbitrator or Mediator
- Healthcare Social Worker
ENTJs are most distinguished in their organization, planning, and discipline, yet they still manage to keep an open mind to new possibilities and approaches.
Knowing that you or someone else is an ENTJ only tells you about one slice of their personality. If you think the ENTJ type describes you well, the free personality test can help you go beyond your personality type and learn about the underlying traits that impact your interpersonal style, interests, and emotional patterns, and more.
Header photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash
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