Always ready to lend a helping hand, the ENFJ, or “The Protagonist” (or sometimes “The Mentor”) enjoys serving the community. They are socially aware, friendly, welcoming and patient and tend do dive into meaningful connections.
In this article, we will explore the ENFJ in detail. We hope that if you have tested as an ENFJ then this article will help you to understand yourself a little better!
The ENFJ, or the Protagonist, is one of the of the “16 personality types” that we see in several different models based on the work of Carl Jung. These models include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Keirsey Temperament Sorter, among others.
ENFJ represents an individual who is Extraverted, iNtuitive, Feeling and Judging. This indicates that they are a person who is energized by spending time with others, who focuses on ideas and concepts, who makes decisions based on emotions and values, and who prefers to be planned and organized.
Of all the 16 personality types, the ENFJ has the most wonderful people skills and truly cares about the happiness and well-being of others. People see the ENFJ as a giver. An ENFJs primary way to evaluate people and situations is externally and this means that they consider everything based on how well it fits into their values systems. This makes them incredibly patient, understanding and kind.
Because ENFJs have an outward focus on other people, they see possibilities where others see obstacles. They tend to have a natural ability to love, nurture, and care for others as well as bring out the best in them. ENFJs thoroughly enjoy seeing other people happy and having a good time. Most ENFJs are extremely unselfish, but some may use their natural people skills to manipulate others. This can be a difficult pattern to detect and change if it goes unchallenged for many years.
The ENFJ gets their nickname “The Protagonist” (and “mentor” or “teacher”) because they support others. They genuinely care about bringing out the best in others, and will use their skills to do so.
Strengths and Weaknesses of ENFJs
People with an ENFJ personality personality type will feel challenged by spending time alone. Being extraverted, this can seem like a punishment rather than the opportunity for rest and reflection that it really is. ENFJs may find themselves filling their life with non-stop activity and more relationships than they can reasonably handle to avoid this discomfort. It’s essential that they consider their own needs to avoid burnout and being taken advantage of by others.
Compared to other extraverted personality types, Protagonists have more difficulty expressing their opinions and letting people get to know them at an intimate level. When they do express their beliefs, it’s not likely that they will be too personal. The main reason for this is that ENFJs don’t want to alienate anyone. However, they then run the risk of feeling lonely even when constantly surrounded by others because it’s hard for them to reveal their true self.
ENFJ Cognitive Functions (Functional Stack)
Each of the 16 personality types has four cognitive functions, as introduced by Carl Jung. These functions are the two scales of Sensing-Intuition (used to process information) and Thinking-Feeling (used to make decisions), each of which can be expressed both in an extraverted manner (e.g., displayed outwardly/externally) or an introverted manner (e.g., displayed inwardly or internally). The ENFJ has a ‘Fe, Ni, Se, Ti” cognitive stack. However, they are called the ‘FeNi” due to their top two functions. This cognitive stacks means that:
- Dominant: Fe (extroverted Feeling) is an ENFJs core function and is what they use to communicate with the world around them. The Fe function is an ENFJs gut instinct about what they think of a person or situation.
- Auxiliary: Ni (introverted iNtuition) is running in the background, after Fe, to form information into constellations of data that merge to become and idea or thought.
- Tertiary: Se (extroverted Sensing) allows ENFJs to appreciate the world as a concrete thing. It makes them enjoy using their senses to understand and interact with the world around them.
- Inferior: Ti (introverted Thinking) is the ENFJs last cognitive function, which means it is not as strong as the others. This function allows ENFJs to examine and analyze the information, collected by the other functions, and determine whether it stands up to scrutiny.
ENFJ and Work/Career
The ENFJ is likely to be well suited to careers that serve others, since they are genuinely interested in their growth and well-being. Some possibilities possible careers that Protagonists may wish to consider include counselors, audiologists, teachers, fundraisers or occupational therapists. The Protagonists outgoing nature may also make them a good candidate for directing roles too. Jobs that are more solitary and quiet in nature are definitely not for you. Some examples include writer, reference librarian, and record keeper.
Check out our comprehensive page on ENFJ careers to see more job titles specific to ENFJs.
The Protagonist personality type is one of the less common personality types, making up only 3% of the general population. Some famous ENFJs include:
- Oprah Winfrey
- Abraham Maslow
- Martin Luther King, Jr
- Pope John Paul II
- Margaret Mead
- Nelson Mandela
- Joe Biden
- Tony Blair
- Alfred Adler
- Ralph Nader
- Gourmet cooking: watching videos, prepping, making their guests smile
- Socializing with different groups of friends; often a reluctant leader
- Binge-watching their favorite TV series when home alone
- Solving word and picture puzzles, escape rooms
- Hosting game party sessions: DnD, trivia night, etc.
“We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”
– Nelson Mandela
“No decisions should ever be made without asking the question, ‘Is this for the common good?'”
– Michael Moore
“I always try and give as much as I can, rather than get as much as I can.”
– Kate Winslet
“The desire to reach the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise and most possible.”
– Maya Angelou
“Science develops best when its concepts and conclusions are integrated into the broader human culture and its concerns for ultimate meaning and value.”
– John Paul II
ENFJ-A Versus ENFJ-T
Those who score as an ENFJ will sit somewhere on the identity scale, ranging from assertive (A) to turbulent (T). At one end of the scale, the ENFJ-A is confident, bold and independent. They can handle stress well and are strong and resilient leaders.
At the other end of the scale, the ENFJ-T tends to be far more self-conscious and less confident. But, they are far more empathetic, understanding and interested in the opinion of others.
ENFJ vs. Other Similar Personality Types
Below are comparisons of the ENFJ versus other similar personality types.
ENFJs and INFJs share many common traits due to their identical cognitive functions, just arranged in a different order. Both types are insightful, empathetic, and caring. However, the Extraverted nature of ENFJs drives them to be more sociable, open, and outwardly expressive of their emotions compared to INFJs.
INFJs, being Introverted, may find social events draining and prefer solitary or one-on-one interactions, where they can deeply connect with people on a personal level. While ENFJs are more comfortable making group decisions, INFJs are introspective and often need private time to reflect before making decisions. These differences could cause communication misunderstandings if they are not aware of each other’s approach.
Both ENFJs and ESFJs are Extraverted, Feeling, and Judging, meaning they both are sociable, empathetic, and prefer structure and order. However, the intuitive nature of ENFJs sets them apart from ESFJs, who rely on their Sensing. ENFJs are future-oriented, prefer to understand the big picture, and are driven by potential and what could be.
ESFJs, on the other hand, are more practical and detail-oriented, focusing on present realities rather than future possibilities. This difference could lead to conflicts in how both types approach problems and plan for the future.
ENFJs and ENTJs share Extraversion and Intuition, making both types outgoing, future-focused, and comfortable in leadership roles. However, ENFJs lean more towards their Feeling function, making decisions based on values, emotions, and harmony. In contrast, ENTJs use their Thinking function to make decisions based on logic, facts, and efficiency.
While ENFJs are considerate, sensitive to others’ feelings, and prefer consensus, ENTJs are objective, assertive, and are not afraid of confrontations. These differences can lead to potential clashes as ENFJs may find ENTJs harsh, while ENTJs may see ENFJs as too emotional or indecisive.
ENFJs and ENFPs are both enthusiastic, charismatic, and highly attuned to the feelings of others. However, the Judging preference of ENFJs contrasts with the Perceiving preference of ENFPs. ENFJs are organized, structured, and decisive, often making plans and sticking to them. On the other hand, ENFPs are spontaneous, flexible, and prefer to keep their options open. They might struggle with commitments and can often change their minds at the last minute.
While ENFJs might find the lack of structure in ENFPs frustrating, ENFPs might feel constrained by the rigidity of ENFJs. Despite these differences, both types can learn from each other, with ENFJs teaching ENFPs the benefits of planning, and ENFPs showing ENFJs the joy of spontaneity.
The Career Project can help you find rewarding work that is well suited to your interests, talents and skills. Browse our career guides to learn about different career options. Or, check out our job profiles, which are informational interviews with real-world professionals sharing their “inside scoop” on what their job is really like.
To learn more about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, read our first post in this series.