24 Signs That You’re an ESTJ, the “Captain” Personality Type

In the Myers-Briggs® community, not a lot of attention is paid to the ESTJ personality type. This is unfortunate because these types are often the leaders in many of our businesses and communities. Often titled the “Captain” or the “Executive,” ESTJs make up about 8.7% of the U.S. population. Known for being productive, task-oriented, and pragmatic, they tend to succeed in the corporate world, where they rank as the highest-earning personality type. What other unique qualities does this personality type have? Let’s take a look!

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Get an in-depth look at what it's really like to be an #ESTJ personality type. #MBTI #Personality
Infographic of the #ESTJ personality type! #MBTI #Personality

Signs That You’re an ESTJ Personality Type

#1 – You Like Getting Things Organized

Chaos is your enemy, and you get a strong sense of satisfaction when you have a place for everything and everything in its place. Your office is probably neatly organized with all books and files categorized properly. Your kitchen probably has every utensil and dish placed in the most efficient location so you can reach everything as quickly as possible. Putting everything in a logical order is something you excel at.

#2 – You Strive to be Competent

Nothing bothers you more than appearing ill-prepared for the task at hand. Being prepared, competent, and educated is something that you prize.  You’re a high-achiever and you feel like if you’re going to do something, you better do it right the first time.

#3 – You Respect Rules

You realize that without a code of conduct society would be a chaotic mess. Just as there are rules for cooking or coding, there needs to be rules for society so that it can run smoothly. While you’ll be the first to speak out against a rule you find oppressive, you’re also the first to uphold a rule that respects the well-being, order, and fairness of your community. If you see a sign that says “don’t feed the zoo animals” you won’t be feeding the zoo animals. That’s all there is to it.

#4 – You Prioritize Justice

You believe that people are shaped through hard work, discipline, and positive influences. You realize that sometimes punishment or correction is necessary for people to course-correct their trajectory in life. When people get “let off the hook” you worry that their behavior will never change and they will continue to cause harm to other individuals.

#5 – You Try to Stay Grounded

You have a hard time with people who seem pretentious or use a lot of obscure, esoteric words. While you may have a vast vocabulary, you try to stay down-to-earth and approachable. Keeping a level head and staying grounded in reality are all ways you keep your eyes open to reliable information.

#6 – You Enjoy Critiquing (and Getting Critiqued)

One of the ways you help society and individuals is by noticing errors and inefficiencies that could be fixed. As someone who values improvement, you see criticism as a shortcut to improvement (as long as it’s constructive and not mean-spirited). Because of this, you give criticism freely, but with good intent (unless you’re at an unhealthy level of maturity). You also appreciate it when people give you criticism because it helps you to be aware of mistakes that could otherwise have tripped you up.

#7 – You Strive to be Responsible

You take responsibility for your environment and do your best to make sure that the people around you are taken care of. While this may not look the same for you as it does for a feeling type, it still is just as powerful. You enjoy helping people with their problems, offering advice, and creating an organized, smoothly-running environment. You also aim to be dependable and reliable – keeping your promises and showing up on time for important events.

#8 – You Like to Have a Schedule

Knowing what’s going to happen gives you a sense of ease and preparedness. Creating plans, contingency plans, and dependable routines helps you to maintain peace of mind and stay on top of important tasks.

#9 – You Hate Procrastination

Decisiveness is one of your strengths, and you tend to believe that any decision is better than none at all. Being with people who mull about, put decisions off, or seem wishy-washy irks you to no end. Besides, if a decision doesn’t work, then at least you learned something and can move onto a better decision in the future.

#10 – You Believe That Time is of the Essence

Wasting time is anathema to you. You work hard so that you can play hard once all your tasks are completed. Knowing when something is going to happen, and making sure you stay on schedule are all things you prioritize. When there’s work to do, play comes later – no questions asked.

#11 – You Like it When People “Give It To You Straight”

If someone is upset with you or thinks you’re doing something wrong, you’d like to know about it directly. You’re not easy to offend, and you’d rather deal with conflict or interpersonal problems immediately than let them fester. People who are passive-aggressive or sugarcoat things tend to get on your nerves. You just want the truth – no holds barred.

#12 – You Think Feeling Out of Control Is the Worst

Almost nothing bothers you more than feeling like things are out of control and you have no sense of leadership. You like to feel that you can organize and structure your surroundings to the best of your ability. If you have incompetent leadership or a messy atmosphere, you tend to get stressed, irritable, and resentful.

#13 – You Have a Fondness For Tradition

Whether you’re making the same family turkey recipe every Thanksgiving or ending your evening with a chapter from one of your favorite books, you enjoy time-honored traditions. Repeating the same enjoyable routines regularly gives you a sense of continuity, contentment, and peace.

#14 – You Don’t Send Double Messages

You like to deal with life in a straightforward way. Being passive-aggressive isn’t something you tend to do unless you’re severely stressed. You’d rather deal with problems head-on and express your needs directly instead of trying to play the manipulation game to get something.

#15 – You’re Sensitive to Flavors

Because Introverted Sensation (Si) is your auxiliary function, you have a keen awareness of the sensations inside your body. You notice tiny nuances in flavor that other types tend to miss, and it can mean that you’re a pickier eater than a lot of people! Or it can mean you’re just a very particular cook.

#16 – When You’re Relaxed, You Have a Zany Side

In your career, you might seem to be all work and no-nonsense. But at home when you’re relaxed you actually have an offbeat sense of humor and an interest in exploration and creativity. You might delve into this through craftsmanship, cooking, or watching comedies or sci-fi films. You also just might enjoy brainstorming and discussing silly topics with the people you love.

#17 – When You’re Extremely Stressed, You Introspect and Get In Touch With Your Feelings

When you’re stressed out, you tend to try to solve all your problems through logical thinking, control, and order. You want to organize your environment so that everything can be “fixed.” But if stress keeps on for too long, or if the problem can’t be fixed with these methods, you burn out. When this happens, you flip a switch and become reclusive, introspective, and insecure. You might feel abandoned, misunderstood, and overwhelmed by your emotions. This phase is called “grip stress” and you can find out more about it here.

#18 – You Love Crossing Items Off Your To-Do List

There’s something so innately thrilling about seeing a list that is completely marked off with completed tasks. As someone who enjoys the feeling of productivity, these checklists give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

#19 – You Enjoy Respectful, Non-personal Debate

You quickly spot logical inconsistencies and errors, so a respectful debate gives you a chance to showcase your skills while exploring ideas and connecting with others (it’s a perfect use of the top three cognitive functions in your mental stack).

#20 – You’re Opinionated

It doesn’t take you long to form an opinion about something. The more you talk about a subject, the more you refine your opinion and clarify it. That said, you’re not opposed to changing your mind if enough evidence contradicts your opinion.

#21 – You Prepare Outlines for Everything

Part of your preparation process is to prepare a structure or outline for every task you have to do. Whether it’s planning a holiday party or organizing a business meeting, you’ve got a clearly structured outline and plan at the ready.

#22 – You’re Attracted to Authenticity

You may not be the most emotionally introspective person in the world, but you are attracted to people who know who they are and are willing to be authentic at all costs. Emotionally intelligent but drama-free individuals are fascinating and appealing to you.

#23 – You Refine Your Ideas Out Loud

You like to “think out loud” because it helps you to clarify your ideas and refine them so that they’re not flawed in any way. As an Extraverted Thinking type, you logically process thoughts better if they are expressed out loud rather than mulling them over in your own head. Having people you trust who can be sounding boards for your ideas and thoughts is something you highly value.

#24 – Change Tends to Make You Anxious

You like familiar environments and people. You’re a routine-oriented person, so dealing with change, especially if it’s unexpected, makes your heart race. That said, you’re willing to cope with change if you have time to prepare, make a plan, and mentally acclimate to the idea.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Do you have any insights or experiences you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!

Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type,  The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, and The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

Get an in-depth look at what it's really like to be an #ESTJ personality type. #MBTI #Personality

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  1. First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to open up and explore this personality type. I have noticed the ESTJ being overlooked or portrayed as some angry, boring commoner with no cool superpowers.

    Second, WOW, are these spot on!! I am an ESTJ and I find that many of these things are things that get brought up in my marriage to an ENTJ. SCHEDULES, PLANS, ROUTINES… these are what I crave for myself and can also see how my husband would benefit greatly from. He gets tired of hearing the “S” and “P” words… 😉

    I look forward to more of your insightful articles!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this Jen! I definitely hope to create more articles for this type because I see it largely being ignored in the type community. While less ESTJs seem to be interested in typology in general, I know there are still a few (like you) who enjoy it!

  2. Thank you for the best description of the ESTJ I’ve ever come across. I completely agree with the recent commenter, Jen, that your description is spot on. In fact, I feel validated after reading your write up. Right now that is great feeling since these last several months I’ve examined every single motivation that exists within me. Why? Because I had to make a decision about leaving a job I love. Due to admin’s lack of transparency, manipulative approach to problems, and lack of support or information, I finally decided I have to move on. Reading your article validated every single aspect of my nature on which I had determined I am unwilling to compromise. Thank you!

    1. Hi Carol! I’m so glad that you enjoyed the article – that means a lot to me! I’m so glad that reading this helped you to feel good about who you are as a person and more secure in your decision (that’s a tough decision to make!). I hope you’re having a great day today! – Susan

  3. Thanks a lot Susan for your description of the personality type I perceive myself to be. Your design of the Questionnaire and its interpretation is amazingly very close to what I feel is my personality type and affirms my thoughts about myself that, although not perfect, I am blessed with a lot of goodness.

  4. ***VALIDATION***
    Thank you so much for this! At 55 y/o, this is the closest I’ve ever felt to being “understood”. Amazingly spot on.

  5. well crud. I just had another profiling session with someone else and came out as this type. Nothing against you at all; I just didn’t know how to answer lots of your questions in the moment and had to talk it out with my sister. But I think I really got it right this time, and everyone in my life agrees. I’m so disappointed. I wanted to be an ISFP so much!!! Thanks for being really affirming about all the types though. Reading all your stuff on ESTJs has really made me feel better about it.

    1. ESTJs are amazing 🙂 They aren’t given enough credit in the type community at all! Many people paint Te-doms as these harsh dictators when they can be very complex, deeply feeling, and nuanced. Congrats on finding your best fit type!! It can be a long process – it was for me! I thought I was an INFJ for a long time and within the last year I realized I was an ENTJ. A lot of people discredited me for that, but a lot of the information on ExTJs paints them in a very negative light and can make it difficult to identify with.

  6. 23 out of 24 points apply to me.
    The only point that doesn’t apply is #10 (work comes before fun)
    Unfortunately, that’s not true!
    While I do enjoy completing tasks, I prefer advancing multiple tasks simultaneously. This means I switch between different tasks and take breaks accordingly.
    Focusing on a single task for an entire hour would be too taxing for me. I’d rather concentrate on one task for ten to fifteen minutes, take a five-minute break, and then move on to the next task.
    Of course, I could work on a task for more than 15 minutes, but my free time (during which I’m usually productive, but mentally rather than physically) is also important to me.
    I also always need to have entertainment while working on a task. So when doing the chores I will always listen to a True-Crime- or Science Podcast.
    I think I have ADD which would explain this behavior.

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