Struggling to tell who’s an ESTJ and who’s an ENTJ? Clearly the big difference between them is their preference for Sensing vs Intuition. Which means that ESTJ vs ENTJ comparisons can be boiled down to one thing – order vs creativity. 

ESTJ personalities thrive in settings where they can follow the rules and create strict processes and protocols. They create order and efficiency wherever they go. For ENTJ personalities, life is more about strategizing. ENTJs are problem solvers and creative thinkers. They love to come up with inventive ideas, tackle new challenges and convince others to follow them.

These differences in the ESTJ vs ENTJ personalities come from the Sensing/Intuition dimension – the part of the 16-type personality system that describes how individuals process information. 

Sensors focus on their five senses, understanding the world through things they can directly see, feel and hear. On the flip side, Intuitives are abstract thinkers. They’re more interested in theories, patterns and explanations than practical problems.

Read on to find out 6 ways these processes play out for ESTJ vs ENTJ individuals in love, work and life.

1. Following the rules

When it comes to ESTJ vs ENTJ people, the biggest difference between these personality types can be seen in their interpretation of the rules. You’re most likely to see these differences play out in the office, but the same approach will apply anywhere. 

Simply, ESTJs are conscientious and rule-abiding – they do things by the book in a methodical, orderly way, whereas ENTJs are keener on rewriting the rule-book. They enjoy seeking out the flaws in a system and using their analytical abilities to discover a new and improved approach. This means they tend to challenge the system rather than comply with it. They’re less about discipline and more about innovation.

2. Approaching authority

Both ESTJs and ENTJs are extremely dedicated to their work, sometimes to the point of workaholism. Their work ethics are unparalleled – but they are very different in their approach to authority at work.

ENTJs are challengers. They refuse to follow someone else’s direction unless they think it’s the right way. They tend to have problems with authority, believing that respect is earned rather than given. “Do this because I told you to” simply doesn’t cut it for ENTJ individuals.

For ESTJs, authority is everything. They’re traditionalists, believing strongly in processes and structures and higher powers. They are big believers in social order, respect and responsibility and they value authority to the highest degree. If someone doesn’t respect that authority, they can quickly become enemy number one for ESTJs.

3. Taking the lead

When it comes to leadership, ESTJ vs ENTJ individuals are similar in a lot of ways. Both personality types are confident and commanding. They know how to take control of the people around them and usually take a leadership role whatever the situation – even if it’s supposed to be someone else’s job!

However, while ESTJs and ENTJs both like to take the initiative and be the head of the group, they can differ significantly in their leadership style. ENTJs tend to be charismatic leaders. They love the feeling of winning people over and turning them around to their way of thinking. In contrast, ESTJs can be described as by-the-book leaders. Their leadership style is based on hierarchy rather than popularity. They typically connect with the people around them through shared rituals rather than flashy gestures.

4. Making decisions

There’s also a clear difference in the decision-making style of ESTJ vs ENTJ individuals. ESTJs prefer to take logical, systematic steps towards a decision. They work carefully and methodically, basing their understanding on facts rather than theories or ideas.

ENTJs make decisions very differently. Their strong sense of self-confidence means they’re happy to make decisions fast and freely. They have complete conviction in their ideas and rush headlong into pursuing them. They don’t believe in waiting around for others and they seek to implement changes as quickly and efficiently as possible.

5. Sharing emotions

Both ESTJ and ENTJ individuals tend to be uncomfortable with emotions. They struggle to take people’s feelings into account and they can often come across as harsh or uncaring. 

For ESTJs, this plays out as impatience for people they see as too emotional or lacking rational, objective decision-making skills. For ENTJs, this lack of emotional intelligence can show itself as irritation at people who can’t see their perspective or way of thinking. They don’t like it when someone refuses to follow their lead and they can become blunt, domineering and even rude. They don’t care much for other people’s feelings – the ‘soft approach’ is a skill that ENTJs definitely lack unless they put a lot of work into developing their empathy.

6. Making relationships work

Personal relationships are also a great way to tell ESTJs and ENTJs apart. Both types prefer structured home lives but their approach is different. ENTJs aren’t afraid of conflict – they approach problems with their characteristic directness. When it comes to ESTJs, they tend to be open to debate but ultimately what they most care about is having set structures and agreements in place. To ESTJs, conflict is a waste of energy – it’s far better to agree on rules and expectations ahead of time and then stick to them no matter what.

What’s the difference between ESTJ vs ENTJ?

To make an ESTJ vs ENTJ comparison, you have to look at the Sensing/Intuition dimension of these personality types. While ESTJs and ENTJs are similar in many ways, their biggest difference lies in the way they understand and process information. ESTJs are disciplined and dutiful whereas ENTJs are innovative and ambitious.

Both ESTJ and ENTJ types are hardworking and dedicated to their careers. They make effective leaders, thriving in environments where they’re able to organize the people around them and work towards the most efficient process possible. This makes them very similar personality types – but those handful of divergences make all the difference. 

Elizabeth Harris
Elizabeth is a freelance writer and ghostwriter. She’s an anthropologist at heart and loves using social theory to get deeper into the topics she writes about. Born in the UK, Elizabeth has lived in Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Dubai before moving most recently to Budapest, Hungary. She’s an ENTJ with ENFJ leanings. Find out more about her work at