The ENFJ may best be described as a smooth-talking persuader. The
ENFJ's combination of preferences makes this type a natural when it
comes to motivating people -- even when motivating them to do something
they may not initially have wanted to do.
Focus and direction
Their focus and direction is toward other people (Extraversion), and
they are highly skilled in understanding others' needs and motivations
(Feeling). These tendencies, along with their gift for imagination and
inspiration (iNtuition), are expressed in an organized, effective way
that allows them to make their imaginative ventures become reality,
Hence, the ENFJ is a highly credible leader who attracts many followers.
A few capacities
The ENFJ has the capacity to size up a situation iNtuitively and,
in a very caring and concerned way, say just the right thing. This
is part of why people are drawn to ENFJs, and why ENFJs are such natural
leaders. They are seldom at a loss to iNtuit just what the group needs or
how to help it reach its goal.
Because of these group-leadership abilities, ENFJs, more than other
Feeling types, often rise to the top of a cross section of organizations.
They are, indeed, natural and often well-liked leaders. Then ENFJ sees
the entire world as filled with people whose endless needs and concerns are
waiting to be funneled into organizations and institutions that can serve
those human needs. ENFJs have a zeal for imposing "what's good for
humanity" upon humanity -- and fortunately, more often than not,
humanity is better off as a result.
Paradoxically, one of their biggest difficulties derives from one of
their greatest strengths. While very accomplished at working with other
people and groups, ENFJs can become depressed, wounded, even bitter, if
their ideas meet with resistance. They take conflict or rejection very
personally, and often carry a grudge against the individuals or groups
involved. Disagreements tend to escalate into win-lose issues and become
personalized, with loyalties sharply marked, even when the other side
had only intended to raise some valid questions. Such behaviour by ENFJs
in influential positions has divided families, organizations, and systems.
The female ENFJ has an advantage because many of the nurturing, caring
qualities associated with this type are considered feminine. However,
when an ENFJ female assumes leadership beyond the family and moves, quite
naturally, to larger systems, she may have trouble. The system, and
especially its male members, may resent her. Suddenly all those qualities
for which she was rewarded at home, in college, or in other organizational
ranks, now become the basis for scorn because she has "overstepped her
bounds" as a woman. She is not doing anything differently from what
she has done successfully in the past; the end result, however, can be
As seen by others
ENFJs are such effective leaders that the male is often seen as a
"man among men" and seductively appealing to women. Both men
and woman look to the male ENFJ for leadership and decisiveness in a
supportive climate -- and rarely are they disappointed. This
notwithstanding, all ENFJs, including males, are often criticized as
insincere or superficial because of their smooth and glib way with
words. ENFJs may responds to such criticism with incredulity, often
followed by depression and self-doubt, because their sincerity and
concern are their driving force and motivation.
Relating to an ENFJ is usually fairly easy. As a rule, an ENFJ wants
a happy and affirming relationship because that is how everyone works
best. Highly articulate, with excellent social skills and a quick sense
of humor, ENFJs are often the life of the party. If it is a party of
two, the ENFJ will still work just as hard at making the occasion a
lively and memorable one. Unfortunately, as with most Extraverts, if an
ENFJ works too hard at it, all the other person is likely to remember is
how much talking the ENFJ did and how little listening.
Parenting, for the ENFJ, is a responsibility and a pleasure. There
are young lives just waiting to be molded by the ENFJ's value system.
Unlike most other types, especially Perceivers, ENFJs don't wait for a
child to develop. Instead, right and wrong, good and bad, and other
models are imposed in a very warm, supportive, and clearly defined
environment. A child will know where an ENFJ parent stands on most
things, and how he or she is expected to behave. When behavior is
appropriate, affirmation abounds. Negative behavior, however, often
makes an ENFJ parent feel like a failure, which in turn can give the
child who picks up on these feelings a sense of guilt about failing to
please mother or father.
When harmony prevails, the living style of the ENFJ is lively and
fun. But there must be order before relaxation, and fun must be balanced
by a good measure of work. Peaceful and joyful living are certainly a
goal -- and an expectation. However, achieving that goal generally
requires either following the ENFJ's good intentions or letting the ENFJ
show you "the error of your ways" and redirect you toward
"real joy" -- whatever the ENFJ deems that to be.
Putting people first
As a general rule, people are central and important to ENFJs. This
means that if people's needs end up in conflict with rules and
schedules, the ENFJ will generally put people first -- though not
without a sense of martyrdom or possibly guilt.
ENFJ children's verbal skills develop early and stay with them. They
are often advised to become public speakers, preachers, or announcers
"when you grow up." They are also hero-worshipers, often
imitating those they idolize, whether it be a parent, sibling, teacher,
or anyone else who has had a dramatic influence on them. Since imitation
is the sincerest form of flattery, it is not suprising that ENFJ
children are often teachers' pets and parents' favorites.
Learning, for ENFJs, is also imitation. They seek to learn by
emulating their heroes, and how they learn. In fact, somewhat
like ENFPs, so strong is their desire to please and be stroked that
ENFJs can end up in careers far removed from their natural abilities
if they can think that will endear them to the heroes they are
Family events are fun for an ENFJ. Almost without being asked, the
ENFJ child or adult will assume a responsibility for making events
entertaining, harmonious, and enriching for all. Then ENFJ is usually
tuned in to the family event, ready to provide games, entertainment,
wit, wisdom, or whatever else may be needed. Generally, family members
appreciate this dimension of the ENFJ, and, of course, the ENFJ then
feels affirmed and fulfilled.
Need to be around others
Clearly, any opportunity to be with others, to entertain, serve,
involve others and be involved, is far more rewarding than sleep or any
other solitary activity. In fact, too much time alone can make an ENFJ
pensive, moody, self-punitive, and depressed. More than other types the
ENFJ needs to move among and be engaged by people. Even a negative
stroke from another person is better than being ignored.
ENFJs are drawn to careers that serve others with minimal potential
for interpersonal conflict. Work that involves too many specific
details, an abundance of paperwork, or too much time alone will be
boring if not stressful to ENFJs. They are especially drawn to religious
organizations, academia, and psychological services and approach these
careers with enthusiasm and commitment. They are natural teachers and
preachers, although they can become frustrated with the accompanying
administrative demands, ending up somewhat disillusioned.
Later in life
Senior citizenship may bring some Introversion and objectivity to the
ENFJ, and with reflection may come the insight that the world is not
going to be saved by anything the ENFJ can do, that life is going to
continue -- and probably quite well -- without the ENFJ. Unless there is
some respite from service to others, the ENFJ can suffer burnout. If
that is avoided, the natural growth cycle can afford the ENFJ the chance
to stop,"smell the daisies" -- and quit trying to save the
entire world. As a result, retirement, through perhaps still
characterized by the service ethos, can also allow more focus on
personal needs and a more relaxed, less compulsive way of life.
Famous likely ENFJs include Ronald Reagan (who is socially gregarious
-- ENFJs are naturally "great communicators" -- and whose
emotional stance on issues translates into rigid, not very negotiable
positions); Jerry Falwell (who believes all would be well if people
followed his moral preachings, and whose visions have indeed garnered a
great following); and Martin Luther King,Jr. (whose highly idealistic
dreams and charismatic leadership created a fiercely loyal following).
Also Mikhael Gorbachev and Margaret Mead.