MBTI® ESFP and Workplace Behavior – Individuals’ innate personality, as determined by their Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®), affects nearly every behavioral characteristic and personal preference, from how one makes decisions and communicates with others to what professional careers or environments one may find most appealing. As such, MBTI® assessments can provide valuable insights that, when strategically applied, can help individuals find fulfilling careers as well as help organizations improve how they operate.

ESFPs (Extraverted-Sensing-Feeling-Judgment) Personality Types are “friendly, outgoing, fun loving, likable, and naturally drawn toward others” (Hirsh, S. & Kummerow, J., p16, CPP Inc., 1998). They generally bring to their organizations objective, data-driven perspectives that can be clearly justified based on their goals and constraints. ESFPs are also able to focus on designing and executing a structured plan to implement their vision in a systematic, efficient fashion. ESFPs are competitive by nature and take success seriously. Like any personality type, ESFPs can be challenging to work with. Understanding their preferences and proclivities is key to cultivating effective workplace relationships and teams.


Learn about ESFP Personality Type behavior in organizations

Organizational Climate and ESFP Disposition

Nearly every professional has to work closely with colleagues, managers, or clients of many different personality types, and every personality type has unique characteristics, preferences, and proclivities. While most people are inherently cooperative, since doing so successfully in the workplace is often mutually beneficial, there may be cases where unintentional misunderstandings create difficulties that are often preventable. In order to be successful, organizations need to create an environment not only where employees can be successful, thriving individuals, but also where they can effectively and efficiently collaborate with one another.

ESFPs are highly energetic, enthusiastic people who do best in environments where they are surrounded by colleagues who share their positive, cooperative spirit. They stay the most motivated in engaging, lively contexts where there are different social and professional events and an implicit emphasis on creativity. For example, ESFPs tend to happily participate in staff bonding events, like luncheons and happy hours. They are natural networkers and enjoy connecting people with resources or information that can help them achieve their professional goals or generally live more fulfilling lives. In meetings, ESFPs ensure that everyone has an opportunity to contribute. Their own contributions often consider solving problems in unorthodox ways. They do not hesitate to explore potentially unique or even silly possibilities, since doing so is often necessary to innovate. When actually making decisions, they do try assessing the situation and contributing factors as objectively as possible, though they may need others to help them to develop a long-term vision and understand how intermediate steps can help them make that vision a reality. While collaborating with ESFPs, it is important to remember that despite their contagious optimism, they can also be sensitive to criticism. As such, others should provide feedback or commentary in a friendly, congenial manner and without questioning or undermining ESFPs’ competence.

In both their professional and personal lives, ESFPs are action-oriented. In the brainstorming phase, they may become frustrated by personality types who focus on situational or implementational nuances, as well as those who become so caught up in data and statistics that they neglect their own or others’ personal experience. Once a brainstorm is complete and next steps are agreed upon, ESFPs move forward voraciously, sometimes forgetting to update project managers or even supervisors on their progress, achievements, and outstanding needs. Those who manage or work closely with ESFPs may find it helpful to remind them that laying a solid foundation for effective collaboration leads to efficiency gains which ultimately leave more time for recreation.

Workplace Association and Interaction

Myers Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI®) can also shed light on the nuances of how employees tend to communicate and interact, including their natural habits as well as their relative strengths and areas of improvement. Anticipating these traits can help teams adapt their communicative norms and improve how they collaborate, which helps mitigate miscommunications, improve cohesiveness, increase workplace satisfaction, and ultimately maximize productivity.

ESFPs are happy, light-hearted people in personal as well as professional contexts. They actively encourage interaction, even among people who might seem hesitant or withdrawn. They are also quick to use humor to diffuse tense situations. While they can be focused and dedicated workers at times, many ESFPs prefer to improvise, even in critical situations. They can be so focused on the social aspects of the workplace that they neglect organization and preparation. Other more serious personality types might interpret ESFPs’ enthusiasm and lack of attention to detail as flippancy or even apathy. However, if their colleagues react confrontationally or rudely, ESFPs may quickly lose respect for them and immediately disregard any subsequent contributions they make or feedback they offer. In these situations, asking explicit questions can be used to quickly clarify intentions. For example, if an ESFP makes a joke, a colleague might ask “That comment seemed dismissive. Was that intentional?” In contrast, an ESFP might clarify sharp feedback by asking, “That seems a bit harsh. Did you mean it that way?” That said, ESFPs should make an effort to take feedback under consideration, especially when their habits, such as a lack of preparation, negatively impacts their colleagues or teams.

Another major contribution of ESFPs in the workplace is their ability to lift others’ spirits almost effortlessly. Others often feel comfortable being more open or vulnerable in the presence of ESFPs than they would around personality types with stronger “Judgmental” tendencies. ESFPs typically manage their supervisees, mentees, and direct reports with patience and compassion. Instead of emphasizing consequences for poor performance and assuming the explanation is a lack of competence or ability, ESFPs look for additional circumstantial explanations and do their best to give their employees the resources they need to complete their assigned tasks successfully. In other words, ESFPs tend to reinforce and reward positive behavior and understand the underlying causes for negative behavior or underachievement, rather than uncritically punishing it.

ESFPs and Operational Efficiency


Learn about ESFP Personality Type behavior in organizations

Each MBTI® Personality Type contributes to their organization or team in slightly different ways, depending on their own personal strengths as well as their organization’s stated goals. An ESFP, for example, may be able to serve a nonprofit focused on community development very differently from how they would contribute to a large corporation. While ESFPs are not known for their organization or attention to detail, they do genuinely value and enjoy working with people.

ESFPs have a confident yet compassionate leadership style. Their employees perform well because they are invested in their relationship and because they genuinely want to earn ESFPs’ respect, not only because achievement is expected or financially rewarded. For example, an employee may be willing to work additional hours to complete a specific task by a given deadline, even if they will not be paid at a higher rate, because they understand that their ESFP supervisor appreciates their effort and would be willing to make similar sacrifices for them. Furthermore, employees quickly learn that ESFPs value action and immediate impact, often placing importance on making small improvements quickly, even if they are marginal, and later investing additional time and resources into addressing underlying causes and addressing the issue more thoroughly.

ESFPs’ extraversion, attitude, and contagious enthusiasm extends to their professional development. When learning new information or developing new skills, ESFPs prefer in-person interactive activities or discussions rather than rote memorization, instructor-led lectures, or independent reading. They benefit from having the time to discuss information with their colleagues, consider it from multiple perspectives, explore possible applications, and identify possible strengths and criticisms. They are most invested in their learning when they immediately understand how the content is applicable and beneficial. As such, trainers should explicitly state the training objectives at the beginning of the session as well as provide ample opportunities for ESFPs to work in groups. In extended trainings or workshops with multiple sessions, it may be helpful to provide ESFPs with exercises or questions to further their thinking outside the classroom as well.

Using the MBTI® in the Workplace

The Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator® and its associated assessments can contribute considerably to any professional environment. Their benefits include improving workplace culture to maximize the effectiveness of individuals as well as streamlining communication and collaboration to improve the impact of teams. Ultimately, MBTI® can give organizations the information they need to operate more efficiently so their employees can spend fewer resources fixing mistakes and more resources actively pursuing their goals. Individuals’ personalities can influence every aspect of their behavior in the workplace, including how they learn, lead, organize their day, and so much more. As such, MBTI can and should inform every aspect of operations and culture, including but not limited to conflict management strategies, performance interventions and discipline structures, approaches to education and training, and so much more.

Learn More About the MBTI ESFP Personality Types


Introduction To Type in Organizations (Hirsh, S. & Kummerow, J. CPP Inc., 1998)