The ESTJ has been labeled the Executive, Life’s Administrator, and the Director. The ESTJ knows what needs to be done and how to make it happen. This “knowing” is based on a vast collection of sensory experience — that solidifies in a structured, delineated, and traditional manner of operation. You are hardly ever going to find an ESTJ doing something out of line with how it’s always been done. We can see why David Keirsey labeled this temperament “The Guardians.”
The reason I single out the ESTJ for being a better boss is that statistically speaking, the ESTJ tends to be in management positions in corporate America. Most of us, if we look through our work history, have had an ESTJ boss. However, with direct experience under the tutelage of ESTJs, I believe I can add real value to this discussion.
The ESTJ in Corporate America
If you study ESTJs in relation to corporate America, you will see that most of the time, they are at or near the top, but not in a founding role. ESTJs tend to not be the creative, innovative, entrepreneurial type, but rather extremely diligent and prudent administrators and upholders of tradition. That tradition will be in whatever institution they find themselves in like government, law, military, or corporate America.
The ESTJ is similar to the ENTJ in that they both lead with Extraverted Thinking (Te), the cognitive function that desires to organize the physical world into effective, pragmatic action. Doing, above all else, you could say, is the ultimate desire of this function.
The 2nd function differs in that instead of Ni with the ENTJ, it is Si, which is called Introverted Sensing (Si). Si is what we call Memory, and desires to look backward at the past in order to make judgments about the future. Introverted Sensing, simply put, is a backward-looking function.
Given that the ESTJ and ENTJ both share Introverted Feeling (Fi) as their inferior function, the advice I gave previously for the ENTJ could be used here as well. However, in my experience, the ESTJ is better served in the boss’s chair by observing their 3rd function: Extraverted iNtuition (Ne).
Ne is what we call Brainstorming, and it desires to both connect many ideas together and to create various alternatives. In many ways, it is directionless and novelty-seeking, without a true goal in mind. With this in mind, let me set the stage for how embracing this part of the ESTJs personality will lead to better leadership.
How the ESTJ Can Work with Their Colleagues
As a boss, you are going to have colleagues that will bring you ideas. New ideas. They will be enthusiastic and genuinely passionate about their ideas and want, in some way, to be validated in those ideas. Your natural inclination is going to be resistant to change as new ideas break things. Your memory (Si) will be searching for instances where you’ve tried it before and whether or not it worked, and evaluating if it fits with the way things currently operate.
The breakthrough occurs when you allow that Brainstorming (Ne) part of your personality to stay open-minded against your Memory (Si) part of your personality to be considerate of new information. Nothing kills the creative intrapreneurship of great employees more than immediate rejection without consideration.
Avoid Saying This as an ESTJ
Deletion of the phrase “That’s not how we’ve done things” and replacing it with, “OK, interesting idea, how do we do it,” allows you a couple things. One, you get them to answer a Te (Extraverted Thinking) question (How do we do it?), and two, you empower further discussion and input from your colleagues. Eventually, someone will bring you an idea that you will implement, and be so glad you didn’t reject it immediately.
The bad stereotype of the stodgy ESTJ boss can be broken by embracing novel ideas from your colleagues and creating a culture of intrapreneurship.
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