Believable Characters, Part 6

We are deep within a discussion of creating believable characters using the Myers-Briggs core personalities. I’m pulling from several sources, but mostly Jeff Gerke’s book Plot vs. Character and David Keirsey’s book Please Understand Me II

You remember the four parts:

1.  Extrovert (E) or Introvert (I)
2.  Sensing (S) or Intuitive (N)
3.  Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
4.  Judgment (J) or Perception (P)

We’ve already looked at the ESTJ  and ISTJ (we took one trait from each base pair). Now let’s look in-depth at the next personality type, the ENTJ. Keirsey calls this individual THE FIELDMARSHAL. These are the uber-leaders, the generals, the guys mobilizing the troops. The basic, driving force of the ENTJ is to achieve The Goal. Dwight Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur were both ENTJ’s. 

ENTJ’s are utilitarian in how the implement their goals. They are preoccupied with science and technology, and work well with systems. They are pragmatic, skeptical, and focused. They see themselves as ingenious and autonomous. They are bound to lead others, and take command of any group within their sphere of influence. Sometimes they find themselves in charge of a group and are mystified as to how it happened, but they take charge of it anyway. They always climb to the top. They have a strong, natural urge to bring order and efficiency to everything. They are bent on using their skills to arrange, prioritize, and compile, and if given the opportunity, they always meet their goals. And often, they will offend people in the process and make enemies. They just don’t care if they’re offensive. The Goal must be reached.

For the ENTJ, there must be a reason for doing something, and other people’s feelings are NOT a good reason. They are skilled at eliminating bureaucracy in the workplace, and if someone needs to be fired, the ENTJ is the man for the job. They will abandon any procedure that proves ineffective–they are the supreme pragmatists. They can get so caught up in a project that they block out other areas of life, especially home life.

At home, the ENJT is in full command. Their children know what is expected, which is complete obedience. ENTJ parents don’t make a scene when there is disobedience in the house, they simply dole out appropriate punishment and move on.

A few famous ENTJ people are Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Patrick Stewart, Queen Elizabeth I, Dave Letterman, Rush Limbaugh, and Steve Jobs. From fiction, Princess Leia Organa and Jordi LaForge from Star Trek: The Next Generation were both ENTJs.

ENJT’s seek occupations where they can utilize their skills: military leaders, CEO’s, construction contractors, technology guru’s, and university deans. This personality type makes up less than two percent of the population, so use them sparingly in your novels. And don’t use them as secretaries, teachers, or fast-food workers. (Can you see Margaret Thatcher happily flipping burgers?) Of course, if you did put an ENTJ into one of these unsuitable occupations, you’d have a ton of conflict in your novel…

We’ll look at another personality type next time.

-Sonja
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