The ESFJ personality type is someone with Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Judging personality traits.
ESFJs are organized and reliable. They care deeply about the needs of others and work hard to ensure there's harmony in their environment. They are warm, empathetic, and caring. They're often the glue that holds teams and communities together.
ESFJs have deep respect for established social norms. They value group traditions and enjoy the structure and clarity that rules bring. Being contributory is incredibly important to ESFJs. They take their obligations and commitments seriously. They enjoy serving others and readily give their time to support people.
The ESFJ personality type is less common among the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types. 5.3% of the population are ESFJs.
ESFJs are committed to their communities, whether personal or professional. They are generous with their time and energy and are the foundation of many successful teams. ESFJs are sociable and supportive. They are the facilitators who bring people and resources together to create a positive outcome.
People with the ESFJ personality type are practical and dependable. They can be relied upon to meet their responsibilities while supporting others around them to meet theirs. ESFJs like order and structure. They will happily use their excellent organizational skills to get everything shipshape.
ESFJs prefer working within more traditional, mature environments. They view processes and policies as tools to help build a considerate and respectful environment for everyone. This means ESFJs can be more resistant to change. They can be dismissive of radical ideas and may struggle with creativity. They’re not looking to break the mold and will give short shrift to anyone trying to ‘shake things up’ for their own distinction.
ESFJs dislike competitive or metric-driven work environments. They want everyone to be able to succeed and enjoy building a warm, collegiate environment. ESFJs aren't fans of working alone. They're in their element when they can communicate with people face-to-face, and remote positions likely won’t fit with this personality type.
Like all of us, ESFJ personality types have intrinsic traits that influence their motivation for working in a certain way and within specific work environments.
At F4S, we’ve identified 48 traits that influence motivation and energy levels. Understanding these traits can help you choose job roles, cultures, and workplace environments that will enable you to thrive.
While these preferences are intrinsic, we don’t always have the luxury of finding a workplace or way of working that exactly matches our needs. Coaching can help you build the skills you need to perform in a work environment less suited to your preferences.
For example, our 8-week coaching program, ‘Big Picture Thinker’, can help ESFJs become more open to change. By increasing their comfort with abstract and innovative thinking, ESFJs can broaden their perspective at work and make their contribution even more impactful.
ESFJs are practical and thoughtful colleagues. They are highly invested in creating a positive and cohesive working environment. People with the ESFJ personality type aren’t interested in shining alone. They love to be part of a successful team or project where they can make a helpful contribution.
People with the ESFJ personality type don’t need lots of positive feedback. But recognition is important to them. They love to feel valued. An ESFJ person will deeply appreciate a simple “thank you” for a job well done.
ESFJs are sociable by nature. They are happy to volunteer to organize team-building activities or social events. ESFJs will give a good deal of thought to finding things that will meet the group's needs well. They are also great mentors for new staff members.
ESFJs are guided by a strong moral compass. The correct path is clear to them in almost every situation. They can feel confused or hurt if someone disagrees with what they perceive is the correct course of action. While ESFJs prefer harmony and cooperation, they will share their opinion if they feel someone has broken the code of conduct.
ESFJs enjoy bringing order and structure to the workplace. This makes them well suited to a role in business administration. Their emotional intelligence and desire to help others mean they also forge successful careers in healthcare, public relations, social work, and education.
Top career matches for the ESFJ include:
ESFJs can be sub-categorized into assertive or turbulent identities. These identities affect all of the four elements that make up an ESFJ personality type.
Within the constraints of their overall type, assertive identities tend to be less perceptive but let go of worries more easily. Turbulent identities tend to be more sensitive to the feelings of others. But they can become overwhelmed worrying about things outside their control.
These two sub-categories bring a little more nuance to elements of the ESFJ personality type. All ESFJs are warm and optimistic and care deeply about the needs of others. They are organized and value the contribution they can make to their communities.
Social relationships are important to both identities. But, ESFJ-Ts are more needy of others than ESFJ-As. ESFJ-As value independence as well as collaboration. ESFJ-As may be more opinionated than ESFJ-Ts. They are more likely to share their thoughts if they disagree with the group’s position. ESFJ-Ts sometimes swallow their opinions for the sake of harmony.
Both ESFJ identities are self-disciplined. They have a strong sense of self and are guided by an internal moral code. If they feel their self-control has slipped, ESFJ-Ts are more likely to be disappointed in themselves. They are more likely to ruminate on their perceived failings than ESFJ-As. But, they may use this as motivation to do better in the future, leading to fantastic results.
Given these nuances, let’s look at how some of the above careers might suit the two identity sub-categories:
ESFJs thrive in careers where they can support others. People with the ESFJ personality type want to use their organizing skills and caring nature to make a valuable contribution to their projects and team.
ESFJs’ ability to organize and structure work, plus their great relationship-building skills, can lead to some well-paid business roles. The average salary for a senior HR manager is US$105,137, and for accountants, it’s US$83,970.
Other highly-paid options include:
At F4S, we think a little differently about strengths and weaknesses. We believe that strengths and weaknesses are often situation-dependent. We prefer to look at what motivates you vs. what drains your energy. These elements might overlap with what Myers-Briggs describes as strengths and weaknesses, but not always.
For example, perhaps (like many ESFJs) you love making a contribution to a team. Collaboration is important to you, and you happily organize team-building and social activities. You appreciate the clarity of policies and processes. You view them as a way to create a harmonious and aligned working environment.
However, your organizational culture is highly informal. Processes are thought to hinder creativity and constrain innovation. Flexible working is encouraged, and at least half of your team works remotely. Collaboration is via video conference or the shared digital workspace. Social events are limited to Zoom happy hours.
In this environment, your ability to support others is reduced. It’s more challenging to be perceptive through a computer screen. Without a shared approach, working feels chaotic. Sometimes things get missed or duplicated. There doesn’t seem to be an appetite for more structure, and your colleagues are happy to theorize for hours rather than take action. The lack of opportunity to connect authentically feels depressing. Your strengths don’t end up shining.
Equally, perhaps there’s something you secretly love doing. It motivates and energizes you, but you’re not very skilled at it yet. It might not be considered an innate ‘strength’, but you’re far more likely to enjoy your career choice if you can find a job with some elements of that activity.
That said, here are some ESFJ ‘strengths and weaknesses’ as listed by MBTI:
Our Myers-Briggs personality type offers insight into our likely preferences for how we work and what type of careers we might enjoy. However, it’s important to note that any personality type can be successful across all industries and job roles.
Our preferences may mean certain types of work and work environments are more challenging to us, but if you’re highly motivated to pursue a particular career path, there’s no reason you can’t excel.
Motivation is personal and complicated. There can be both internal and external drivers for motivation. Increased self-awareness helps you identify the internal traits that drive your preferences for how, where, and when you work.
At F4S, we recommend starting with our free self-assessment to unlock insights about where your talents lie and how you can best harness your preferences to create a satisfying and successful career.
However, sometimes there are also strong external motivating factors. For example, a lucrative pay packet, comprehensive benefits, or the ability to work from a specific location.
External motivations may result in you working in an environment that jars with your intrinsic motivation. Personal development programs and coaching can help you rachet up the skills needed to excel when working in ways less suited to your preferences.
So, if there is something you’re excited about trying, you should definitely explore it, even if your MBTI result suggests you might be better suited to something else.
ESFJs enjoy working within a structured, process-driven organization. They love collaborating with their teammates and work hard to make valuable contributions. Reliable and caring, they are great facilitators and excel at bringing communities together.
While they’re great organizers, a continually volatile or uncertain work environment may prove unsettling. ESFJs may also become overwhelmed or frustrated in a culture that prizes innovation over routine or theory over action.
Given this, some roles typically have work environments or approaches that may be more challenging for ESFJs. Remember, this list is just a guideline of job types you might not enjoy or that might drain your energy. It doesn’t mean you won’t excel at them.
The following careers may be less suited to ESFJ personality types:
Here at F4S, we’re fascinated by what motivates people. When considering leadership, it’s important to reflect on these three particular traits:
If you enjoy power and control, you will likely thrive in a leadership role. A leadership position may feel isolating if belonging is important to you.
ESFJs don’t actively seek out leadership roles. They prefer to act as facilitators, bringing people together and establishing effective ways of working. ESFJs excel in traditional management, rather than leadership, roles. They are very reliable and committed to their obligations. They are great at organizing people and resources to meet business goals.
When they do find themselves in leadership positions, ESFJs may feel most comfortable adopting a servant leadership style. As servant leaders, ESFJs put the needs of their team first. While they respect traditional values and hierarchical structures, ESFJs don't particularly enjoy exercising their power to inspire respect. They'd rather foster a sense of community, creating a warm workplace environment where people can collaborate and share ideas.
ESFJ leaders can struggle with creating a vision for the business. Their practical nature means they are better at optimizing what is already in place than imagining novel approaches. They can be resistant to change as they appreciate the clarity tried-and-tested procedures bring.
People with the ESFJ personality trait value their professional relationships. Belonging is a strong motivator for them. This means that ESFJs can struggle with some key leadership tasks, such as offering performance feedback and firing subordinates. They’re capable of doing so if required, especially when a team member’s behavior jars with the expected code of conduct. But it’s likely to feel quite challenging.
Our eight-week development program, ‘Personal Power’, can help ESFJs increase their comfort and confidence in holding positions of authority or influence. This program is personalized to work with your innate preferences helping you to lead with greater effectiveness irrespective of personality type.
ESFJs love making a contribution to a team. They value being appreciated by their colleagues and go out of their way to support others. Highly-competitive environments are uncomfortable for ESFJs.
ESFJs are masters at bringing people together and ensuring everyone feels valued. You can rely on them to organize birthday celebrations and remember the names of every team member’s kids, pets, and favorite sports team.
ESFJs’ strong moral compass will compel them to speak out if they feel something isn’t working. But, generally, they love to facilitate a cooperative and harmonious environment. They enjoy being in a face-to-face environment and working toward shared goals.
People with an ESFJ personality type are reliable and hard-working. They’re committed to completing their tasks and shouldering their responsibilities. They have a strong sense of integrity and would hate to let their colleagues down. Their excellent interpersonal skills mean they build positive and productive relationships with teammates.
ESFJs enjoy working within stable, mature teams with established ways of working. Innovation and change can feel unsettling as they trust rules and procedures to maintain harmony. ESFJs will be troubled by colleagues who shirk their obligations or those they can’t depend on. They can also be sensitive to criticism and may feel despondent if anyone thinks they’ve given less than their best.
From Desmond Tutu, an archbishop, and activist, to the statesman Colin Powell, ESFJs are recognized for their organization, strong moral compass, and desire to help.
Here are some famous ESFJs:
Editor’s note: Do you recognize yourself in any of these famous people? Are you secretly nodding along, going, “I always thought I was just like Prince William?” Whether you are or you aren’t, don’t worry! This list is meant to be fairly light-hearted. It is based on traits and behaviors observed in our favorite celebs rather than in-depth research. After all, it’s unlikely anyone actually put Desmond Tutu through an MBTI test!