The Provider Esfj
Profile of the ESFJ Personality Type
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ESFJ in a Nutshell
ESFJs are conscientious helpers, sensitive to the needs of others and energetically dedicated to their responsibilities. They are highly attuned to their emotional environment and attentive to both the feelings of others and the perception others have of them. ESFJs like a sense of harmony and cooperation around them, and are eager to please and provide.
ESFJs value loyalty and tradition, and usually make their family and friends their top priority. They are generous with their time, effort, and emotions. They often take on the concerns of others as if they were their own, and will attempt to put their significant organizational talents to use to bring order to other people's lives.
What Makes the ESFJ Tick
ESFJs act according to a strict moral code, and look for others to do the same. They often see things in terms of black and white, right and wrong, and they are typically not shy about sharing their evaluations of others' behavior. ESFJs seek harmony and cooperation, and feel this is best accomplished when everyone follows the same set of rules. They have a sense of order in the way people relate to one another, and often take on roles that allow them to help enforce that social order.
ESFJs feel a sense of personal responsibility for other people's needs, and are usually eager to get involved and help out. They tend to be serious and practical, dutifully putting business before pleasure—especially the business of caring for others. They typically enjoy routine and often keep a regular schedule that allows them to be organized and productive.
Recognizing an ESFJ
ESFJs may often be found playing host or hostess. They tend to take on the role of organizer without hesitation, and want to be sure that everyone is taken care of. Roles such as committee leader, event planner, and church volunteer suit the ESFJ well. They are typically engaged with their communities and work hard to do their part in maintaining the social order. ESFJs are interested in other people and like to know the details of their lives. Gossip is a favorite pasttime of many ESFJs; they love to share stories about the people around them.
ESFJs have a clear moral code that guides their behavior and their expectations from others. They often have strong opinions about how people should behave and the proper thing to do. Manners and other codes of social interaction are often of great interest to ESFJs. They may think in terms of black and white, right and wrong. They can be judgmental of others who they do not think are acting appropriately, but they have the best of intentions: they simply want everyone to follow the rules so they can all get along. The ESFJ wants things to be all right with the people around them, and may become very involved with others’ problems and concerns.
Famous ESFJs include Martha Stewart, Dave Thomas, Sam Walton, Barbara Walters, William Howard Taft, JC Penney, Sally Field, Mary Tyler Moore, and Ray Kroc.
ESFJ in the Population
ESFJ is the second most common type in the population. ESFJs make up:
- 12% of the general population
- 17% of women
- 8% of men
Popular leisure activities for ESFJs include volunteering in community, charity, or religious organizations; celebrating holidays and family traditions; cooking; entertaining; and social sports.
What the Experts Say
"ESFJs are primarily concerned with the details of direct experience—their own, that of their friends and acquaintances, even the experience of strangers whose lives happen to touch theirs."
- Isabel Briggs Myers, Gifts Differing
"Wherever they go, Providers take up the role of social contributor, happily giving their time and energy to make sure that the needs of others are met, that traditions are supported and developed, and that social functions are a success."
- David Keirsey, Please Understand Me II
"The ESFJ's strengths are many and varied. They are punctual, neat, responsible, and highly productive, with a great concern for others."
- Otto Kroeger, Type Talk at Work
Research on ESFJ
Interesting facts about the ESFJ:
- Underrepresented among people suffering from substance abuse
- Among types highest in resources for coping with stress
- Second most likely of all types to report believing in a higher spiritual power
- Highest of all types in reported satisfaction with their marriage or intimate relationship
- Among most likely of all types to stay in college
- Most likely of all types to be satisfied with their co-workers
- Values at work include clear structure, security, and the ability to be of service to others
- Among the types most satisfied with their work
- Commonly found in careers in education, health care, and religion
Work Style and Top Careers for the ESFJ
ESFJ at Work
ESFJs like to put their interpersonal skills to work to organize people and processes. They are tuned into the needs of others and seek to create structure to provide for people. ESFJs often prefer work that allows them to help people in practical, observable ways.
ESFJs enjoy work that allows them to follow through and see results, and prefer a high degree of structure and organization. They gain satisfaction from completing tasks with attention to order and detail. An ideal JOBfor an ESFJ requires attention to procedure and specifications, and allows the ESFJ to work methodically to organize people and processes.
ESFJs usually prefer to work with others, and are energized by participating in a motivated, conscientious, action-oriented team. It is important to the ESFJ to do work that is accordant with their values, as well as to work with others who are supportive and cooperative. An ideal work environment for an ESFJ provides clear expectations and a friendly, structured atmosphere free from conflict or uncertainty.
ESFJs as Leaders
ESFJs are often eager to take charge, and get things done in a structured, orderly way. ESFJs want to deliver on time and as promised, and will expect that their teams show this same attention to expectations. They use their communication and organizational skills to coordinate and move a team steadily along toward a goal.
ESFJs motivate by providing their reports with personal attention and ensuring they have the resources and support they need to deliver results. They want their employees to feel appreciated and cared for so that they can be cooperative and productive.
Tradition is important to ESFJs, and they are interested in understanding established procedures and helping their teams to follow existing guidelines. They have a strong respect for organizational hierarchy and expect that their reports will also defer to their authority.
ESFJs on a Team
ESFJs enjoy the process of teamwork, and engage with others to create an environment of caring and support. They are concerned with getting everyone to contribute, and want to make all team members feel included and valued. ESFJs value cooperation and a harmonious team environment. They tend to solicit opinions from everyone and try to organize the tasks of the team to accommodate the needs and priorities of all involved.
ESFJs do best on a structured team, where everyone can be given a well-defined task and the rules of the game are agreed upon. They want to appreciate their teammates’ contributions, but find this easier when those contributions conform to established guidelines. They may have more difficulty with teammates who want to bend the rules or try something new.
ESFJs are most effective when their teams are cooperative and free of conflict. They often do well at bringing everyone together, and may be distracted from the task at hand if there is conflict or competition between team members.
Popular Careers for the ESFJ
Least Popular Careers for ESFJs
It is important to note that any personality type can be successful in any occupation. However, some occupations are well suited to the natural talents and preferred work style of the ESFJ, while other occupations demand modes of thinking and behavior that do not come as naturally to the ESFJ. Occupations that require the ESFJ to operate outside their natural preferences may prove stressful or draining, and often sound unappealing to ESFJs who are choosing a career.
The following occupations have been found to be unpopular among ESFJs, based on data gathered from surveys of the general population.
The ESFJ Personality Type in Relationships
ESFJ Communication Style
ESFJs are enthusiastic and caring communicators, who want to engage people to contribute and accomplish what needs to be done. They tend to be friendly and to get along easily with others, although they can become frustrated with those who do not respond to their attempts to reach out. They have a good memory for detail, especially facts about other people, and enjoy getting to know people and understanding their needs. ESFJs are factual in their communication, but generally uncomfortable with criticism and conflict, preferring instead to provide support and encouragement to others.
ESFJs as Partners
In relationships, the ESFJ is supportive, nurturing, and reliable. ESFJs concern themselves with providing practical support to their partners and living up to traditional standards in a relationship: they want to be the "good wife" or husband based on traditional ideals.
ESFJs like an organized life and want their partners to participate in a structured, scheduled lifestyle. They adhere strictly to their own moral code, and want a partner who agrees with them on issues of right and wrong, should and should not. Conscientiousness is important to the ESFJ, and when they follow through responsibly on their promises, they expect the same from others.
ESFJs dislike conflict and are motivated to resolve it quickly. They prefer stable, harmonious relationships and like a partner who is able to be loving and committed, even when the ESFJ has strong emotional reactions. ESFJs appreciate a partner who notices their efforts to provide for their families, and commends them on a JOB well done.
ESFJs as Parents
As parents, ESFJs provide clear structure and loving boundaries. They are interested in providing a safe and stable home with adequate resources, and in instilling a strong moral code and work ethic into their children. They are extremely devoted to their children, and go to tremendous lengths to be sure they are provided for.
ESFJs often strongly identify with their children’s behavior, feeling tremendous pride when they succeed but an enormous sense of personal failure when they do not. ESFJs may become embarrassed and critical of children who do not behave as expected; they want their children to adopt and follow their own strong system of values.