ENFJ Preferences at Work

“Warm, supportive, and friendly, ENFJs work well when they can focus on people’s aspirations, develop organized plans to meet goals, and maintain integrity as they work.”(1)

With every new project I work on, every new team I meet in a workshop, every new client I coach with, I try to establish a connection. I open up, heart on sleeve. I may share private information, in an effort to make the other people comfortable to share a bit of themselves with me, too. I hardly even think about it. It’s not a calculated attempt to manipulate, it’s an expression of my extraverted Feeling function wanting to harmonize and connect with others.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it backfires.

As a young Executive Assistant in Spain, I received this piece of advice:

“You really shouldn’t be so friendly with everybody. You should be guarding (your boss) a lot more! You can’t just let anyone in who needs to see him. You need to say “no” more.”

That was a tough pill to swallow, because concentrating on the needs of only one person on a team of, say, 20, significantly narrowed my mood barometer. It’s true, at the time, before learning about emotional intelligence, self-regulating, and simply becoming more mature, my moods often depended on the people around me. When you’re a sucker for positive feedback (and a glutton for punishment), putting all the connection eggs in only one basket is dangerous.

More recently as a self-employed coach and trainer, I find that I indeed find tremendous joy in making plans on how to reach goals. My friends make fun of how many notebooks I buy (I have 3 paper calendars on the go right now, plus Charlie Gilkey’s blog and project planners online), but I use all of them – and even keep most of the information straight. It’s fun to map out what I want to be doing over the next 30, 60, 90 days. What seemed overwhelming looks a lot less daunting and more doable once it’s divvied into action steps, black (as well as red, green, purple, orange, and blue) on white. By the same token, what seemed simple in my mind becomes a lot more concrete and tangible once I try to pin down and describe all the moving parts. 

Again, the tone of my self-talk often depends on how much I got done. If the day or week were spent on emergent tasks, I might write down what I already did just to be able to cross something off. The rest will get postponed. 

Of course I get a sense of satisfaction once something is done, no doubt about it. But it’s also true that the older I get, the more easily distracted I seem to be. It’s hard to get motivated by myself: although I know the work I want to offer is valuable and helpful for people, I still need accountability to get things done. Deadlines, actual clients, my accountability teams, and my coach are helping me with that. It truly takes a village.  

Still, the integrity piece I find most important of all.

During my apprenticeship to become a Foreign Language Secretary, I rotated through various departments. I liked HR best, because I loved how fellow apprentices would pop their heads in with questions or issues, and I was able to help them on the spot. Instant gratification and happy customers – what’s not to love? That’s when I decided to study HR Management, motivated in part because I thought I could do it all better than the department was doing things at the time.

I know, that’s an ENFJ cliché right there, but it’s true.

Once I studied HR and started working in recruitment, however, it became clear that my idea of what an organization should be doing for its employees, and what was actually happening in business, were worlds apart. As Otto Kroeger wrote,

“Inevitably, as they accept promotions, they find themselves at odds with corporate realities: profits, productions, cutbacks, and the like. The more ENFJs rise to the loftier positions within the organization, the more they may be setting themselves up for a struggle between their personal demands and organizational demands. (…) Hence, when an ENFJ is present, no matter what the product or mission, the people involved will be important and human dynamic will be made a central part of the process.”(2)

I know now that taking time to reflect on my values and critically analyzing other potential stakeholders’ goals can save me a lot of worry and doubt. Staying true to myself while continuing to maintain harmony with others is a lifelong quest, and one that I love exploring in the world of work and careers every day - for myself and my clients.

If you have ENFJ preferences and these descriptions resonated with you, why not join me in a webinar specifically for ENFJs and how we can fall in love with our jobs again. You can learn more and sign up here.

(1) Hirsh, Elizabth, Katherine W. Hirsh, Sandra Krebs Hirsh: Introduction to Type® and Teams, 2nd Edition, CPP Inc., 2003

(2) Kroeger, Otto with Janet M. Thuesen: Type Talk at Work – How the 16 Personality Types determine your success on the job, Delacorte Press®, 1992

Image: Vintage National ad, flickr, Creative Commons, by pds209