The ESFP personality type is someone with Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving personality traits.
Spontaneous and energetic, ESFPs are lovers of life. They live in the moment and find excitement wherever they go. They spread their infectious energy outward, encouraging others to enjoy the fun.
ESFPs shine the brightest when surrounded by people. They are social butterflies, seeking fun and pleasure at every opportunity. They are very creative and enjoy environments that are aesthetically pleasing. ESFPs are comfortable in the spotlight.
The ESFP personality type is rare among the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types. 4.8% of the population are ESFPs.
ESFPs are vivacious and warm. They thrive in creative, progressive work environments that aren’t stuffy or hierarchical. Their enthusiasm for life is infectious and quieter colleagues can blossom around them.
Highly social, there’s no one an ESFP won’t talk to. This makes them excellent networkers. If you need something done, ESFPs will always know who the right person is to do the job. ESFPs love brainstorming and coming up with new ideas. Despite being full of fun, ESFPs are inherently practical. They’re quick learners and can rapidly turn ideas into action.
ESFPs love to keep busy. They don’t take themselves too seriously and like to keep their professional relationships light-hearted. Even when discussing more consequential matters, ESFPs will try to keep the mood light.
People with the ESFP personality type have a natural artistic flair. They don’t want to get bogged down in theory and can use their eye for design to quickly bring ideas to life. Creative freedom is important to ESFPs and they dislike strict rules and bureaucratic processes.
Though naturally optimistic, ESFPs can be affected by the environment around them. Their ability to read the room makes them supportive and helpful colleagues. If they see others struggling, they are the first to offer to listen to the problem and work out a solution.
This does mean that ESFPs can be sensitive to other people’s criticism, however. Negative comments can make them quite defensive. But, once they’ve had a chance to reflect, ESFPs are keen to take on board any feedback that will help them develop.
Like all of us, ESFP 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 9-week coaching program, ‘Vital Wellbeing’, can help ESFPs develop their emotional resilience. This will help them respond effectively to developmental feedback, maximizing their opportunity for personal growth.
ESFP colleagues are fun-loving and gregarious. They want the best for their teammates and are invested in making the workplace as joyful as possible. They are the first to volunteer to organize team-building activities and social occasions.
People with the ESFP personality type love to be in the spotlight, but they’re also happy to let others shine. They’ll happily lead the celebrations when teammates or the wider team succeeds. Generous with their time and energy, the optimism of ESFP colleagues is a boon to every workplace.
ESFPs like to live in the moment. They’re not interested in mundane, repetitive tasks. Their love for spontaneity makes them less interested in planning. They’ll rely on colleagues to keep them organized and focused. If you need an ESFP colleague to get something done, be prepared to give them clear instructions and follow up with a nudge, or three!
While ESFPs live for the gossip and the drama, they shy away from conflict. They don’t like anything that detracts from their joy in life. They’d rather ignore problems than tackle them.
ESFP personality types are happiest in careers that allow for frequent social interaction and collaboration. They love to bring joy and beauty into the world. Like all the personality types, ESFPs can be found in a range of careers and industries.
But, they’re likely to be most satisfied in interesting, creative roles where they can work with customers or teammates. ESFPs enjoy using their intuition and resourcefulness to help others. Naturally, many ESFPs find careers in the entertainment industry or the creative arts. Roles in account management, healthcare, and customer success would also be an excellent fit.
Top career matches for the ESFP include:
ESFPs can be sub-categorized into assertive or turbulent identities. These identities affect all of the four elements that make up an ESFP 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 ESFP personality type. All ESFPs are energetic and sociable, with charming qualities that draw people to them effortlessly. They prioritize having fun, and they aren’t overly concerned with how others perceive them.
This is especially true of ESFP-As, who tend to be comfortable in their own skin. ESFP-Ts may sometimes feel a little more self-conscious. Like many turbulent identities, this discomfort can encourage ESFP-Ts to pursue more self-improvement opportunities. This personal growth can foster excellence.
Both identities are optimistic, but ESFP-As are somewhat more resilient when things get challenging. They're confident in their decisions and find it easier to control their emotions when stressed. ESFP-Ts are more prone to procrastination and indecision. But, when they do move forward, their choices are better thought-through. ESFP-As can be rash in their decision-making.
Given these nuances, let’s look at how some of the above careers might suit the two identity sub-categories:
ESFPs thrive in careers where they can perform. People with the ESFP personality type want to use their creativity and resourcefulness to help others and make the world a more beautiful place.
The ESFP’s creativity and aesthetic flair can also lead to some higher-paid roles. The average base salary for art directors is US$130,350. The average salary for dancers is US$74,630, but like many roles in the creative arts, the sky’s the limit. Mikhail Baryshnikov, one of the world’s most famous ballet dancers, is worth US$45 million.
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 ESFPs) you are gregarious and fun-loving. You thrive when helping others and love to be part of a creative team. You appreciate a flexible workstyle and a dynamic and collaborative environment.
However, your organizational culture is traditionally hierarchical. The 9-5 workday is held up as a model of productivity. While there’s a hefty meeting schedule, there’s limited opportunity for collaboration. Matrix teams, flat organizational structures, and blue-sky thinking are perceived to hinder efficiency. Work is siloed and often completed alone. Most people don’t socialize outside of work.
In this environment, your creativity is stifled. Your outgoing nature jars with the corporate atmosphere, and you don’t feel you can be truly yourself. The lack of opportunity to engage with colleagues feels depressing, and you crave social interaction. 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 ESFP ‘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 roles and work environments feel more challenging. 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 intrinsic 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 motivations lie. The results can help you understand how to use your preferences to create a satisfying and successful career.
Strong external motivating factors can also influence your choice of career. 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’s misaligned with your internal motivation. Coaching and other personal development opportunities can help you gain 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.
ESFPs thrive in creative, fast-paced environments. They’re bold and spontaneous, bringing a sense of fun to the workplace. They crave social interaction and love to collaborate with others on new and exciting ideas. Routine, highly-administrative tasks bore them. Process-driven, inflexible workplaces won’t get the best from an ESFP. They dislike working alone.
Given this, some roles typically have work environments or approaches that may be more challenging for ESFPs. Remember, this list is just a guideline of job types you might not enjoy or may find draining. It doesn’t mean you won’t excel at them.
The following careers may be less suited to ESFP 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.
ESFP leaders are sociable, encouraging, and optimistic. They’re not interested in exerting their authority over others and are happy to muck in as one of the team if it helps get the job done. As leaders, ESFPs are extremely flexible and tolerant. They like to empower their team members and are happy to let them take the initiative.
People with the ESFP personality type value collaboration and cohesion. They will invest in their team’s development and offer lots of opportunities for post-work socializing. Brainstorming activities and dynamic, cross-functional working are common under ESFP leadership.
ESFPs are emotionally-intelligent leaders. They’re empathetic and perceptive. ESFPs are often much more tuned in to the needs of their team than other personality types. Always ready to listen, ESFP bosses care about their team members as people, not just as colleagues. If someone's struggling or asks for help, ESFP leaders will support them with whatever they need.
ESFPs are resourceful and practical. But, they can struggle with focus and long-term planning. And their desire to belong can make it more challenging for them to delegate less-appealing tasks. They are also likely to be uncomfortable with certain managerial elements. Offering developmental feedback or having to fire someone would be challenging for an ESFP.
Our eight-week development program ‘Goal Catcher’ can help ESFPs focus on setting and achieving impactful goals. This program is personalized to work with your innate preferences helping you to lead with greater effectiveness irrespective of personality type.
As natural extroverts, ESFPs love socializing and fit into almost any team with little trouble. They bring fun and healthy doses of humor wherever they go. While ESFPs love the spotlight, they also make fantastic team players. They have no trouble remaining optimistic and encouraging others to be their best selves.
While they're great with people, ESFPs aren't great planners and aren’t fans of routine. They’ll struggle with colleagues who are too achievement-oriented and don’t leave space for spontaneity. Their resourceful and practical nature may also be irritated by too much time spent discussing things without action. But, generally, ESFPs value their colleagues immensely.
ESFPs dislike conflict and highly-competitive environments. They enjoy cooperation and dislike working independently on tasks. They'd much rather be in a face-to-face environment than a remote one. Their perceptive nature allows them to appreciate people’s unique talents. They’re great at bringing people with different skills and capabilities together.
From the pop star Harry Styles to the footballer Christiano Ronaldo, ESFPs are recognized for their energy and love of the spotlight.
Here are some famous ESFPs:
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 Harry Styles?” 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 Elvis through an MBTI test!