ESTJ’s dominate middle management and above, for lots of reasons. This personality type loves work. They are dedicated, tough, and they delight in making order out of chaos. They know how to delegate and how to do it fairly. They are direct and honest. These are all traits that senior leadership values. Even without knowing anything about personality types, it’s not hard to spot patterns in who gets promoted, and to notice that it often happens to the ESTJ’s. They are naturally-bent leaders, and it shows in the hiring and promoting process. However, there are 15 other equal personality types in the workplace. They too have gifts and talents that are extremely valuable to the corporate world.
We are entering an era in which a flexible management style is imperative for drawing out the best our teams have to offer. A flexible management style results when a leader learns the personality type of each person he/she leads, draws out their particular gifts, and utilizes those gifts to produce superior results for the team.
We have learned that if we allow one personality type to dominate, blind spots are created through the lack of diversity on our teams. This leads to a sharper and often more diverse competitor taking market share.
We can’t afford that any more.
So we are seeing other personality types ascend to the top of the corporate ladder. However, I think we will always have more ESTJ’s in leadership because their natural gifts are so crucially beneficial.
Here are some tips on how to work with the ESTJ's on your team:
1. ESTJ’s are unlikely to experiment with new ways of doing things, but they are open to a new idea that is proven to work better.
ESTJ’s love creating order out of chaos. Once in order, they will follow whatever routines are necessary to enforce that order.
This often leads to them doing things just ONE way.
This can get boring to those who have a personality type that values variety or experimentation.
What’s worse is that a team that is not taking risks will stop growing. So ESTJ’s need to have their one way appropriately challenged with a proven new method.
Once the new method is proven, the ESTJ will see great value in you and your thought leadership.
Those of us who like to speculate on ways that something could be done better would do well to prove it to ourselves first, before presenting it to an ESTJ boss.
Another option is to announce ahead of time that you want to brainstorm a possibility with your ESTJ boss. Most ESTJ’s want to take action on ideas; they don’t relish “just talking about ideas for the sake of talking."
2. Since ESTJs do things by the book, you have to be careful when you challenge the book, because that can be viewed as a direct challenge to their authority.
So for me, the key phrase in point one that will help us with point two is “appropriately challenged." ESTJ team leaders want to be respected. They will defend their team hard against those who may want to harm the team through a cutback or some other threat. Since they are loyal to their team, they get rankled when they perceive that someone on their team is disrespecting or questioning their authority.
Challenging the rules or established routines that have saved the team from chaos in former days is often perceived by an ESTJ leader as a personal core challenge.
If you catch your ESTJ boss on a day when they are especially stressed, don’t be surprised if you are hit with an outburst of emotions.
Before you challenge the established way of doing something, make sure you’ve proven that it works, or at least ask to brainstorm a new solution.
Then make sure to ask the boss for time to discuss.
Be direct yet tactful with them. If you’re brainstorming, say something like, “I think I see a way to make XYZ even better. Would you be open to discuss it?”
If you have actually proven the solution, then it could be, “Jack and I may have found a way to make XYZ even better. We have run some experiments that show promise. Would you like to hear about it?”
Even though S’s on Myers Briggs love details, if your boss is a VP (or above) at a large company, don’t be surprised if they can fill in the details once they hear your bullet points. So let them know what the bullet points are and that you have details behind them.
3. ESTJ’s will micromanage or be overbearing, especially if they believe you are not working smart or, even worse, have a bad work ethic.
If you want to kill your chances of being promoted with your ESTJ boss, just let them see you have a bad work ethic and they will find a way to silo you. ESTJ's are hard workers. They respect and value a team that works hard as well.
If you are the type of person that does your best work as the deadline gets closer (See P is for Perceiver), then let your boss know about that. Specifically request that the project be broken down into smaller pieces, with hard deadlines for each of those pieces. Then let your boss know that you will get the highest inspiration about “an hour” before the deadline is due.
Let them see the magic you can do in that last hour so that they understand that you don’t necessarily have a bad work ethic the rest of the time.
ESTJ’s are incredible managers. They will fight for you and the team and stand their ground even through some tough resistance. Play to their strengths and you will see the dynamic between the two of you grow stronger.
Chew On This:
- What does your ESTJ boss need to know about how you work best in order for the two of you to work more effectively?
Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.
*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients. No one single client is being singled out.