Exploring the ESTJ function stack (A guide)

In this brief guide, we will look at the ESTJ function stack.

What is the ESTJ function stack?

The ESTJ function stack, in order of the layering of the cognitive functions from most obvious to the least obvious, is listed below:

  • Dominant: Extraverted Thinking (Te)
  • Auxiliary: Introverted Sensing (Si)
  • Tertiary:  Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
  • Inferior:  Introverted Feeling (Fi)

The ESTJ function stack may be abbreviated by the use of the dominant function of extraverted thinking and the auxiliary function of Introverted Sensing, to say TeSi, which gives a good summary of what we are looking at as the personality traits of the individual.

These individuals are likely to be good analytical and logical thinkers who may spend a lot of time crafting detailed plans and finding ways to execute them, and at the same time they may be great organizers of information within their cognition, and be able to use this information in a good and constructive way.

The ESTJ, according to their function stack, is likely to focus on the future without dwelling too much on the present or nitpicking little details of what has happened in the past, and they are more likely to pick up lessons from their mistakes than sit around feeling sorry for them.

The MBTI calls the ESTJ the Executive, which makes perfect sense given that these people are good at getting others to perform at their best while ensuring that they are doing their absolute best as well.

Due to their observant (sensing0) traits, these individuals are also more likely to not focus on the abstract and vague and focus instead on what is concrete and real, and easy to understand in a real-world sense, rather than something that has multiple connotations or any ground for misinterpretation.

What is Function Stack?

A function stack, or a functional stack, is a collection of layers of the cognitive functions as they appear in an individual and affect their thoughts and behavior, making up important aspects of the personality related to gathering information and the decision-making processes in the person.

There are four main cognitive functions in the Jungian theory of personality, which are Thinking, Sensing, Feeling, and Intuition and they may be oriented to the inner world in an Introvert or to the outer world in an Extrovert.

In addition, which cognitive function is dominant also depends on whether the person tends to be focused more on the information gathering (Perceiving) or the decision making (Judging), and based on that one of the 2 functions under each process are chosen as the dominant one.

Talking about the way functions may be layered in a function stack, they may be dominant, which is visible in the day to day functioning of the individual and of which the person is aware, the auxiliary which tends to serve the dominant function; and the tertiary, as well as the inferior, which run in the background or the subconscious, and may not even develop completely till the person is older.

ESTJ Function Stack in Detail

Presented below is a discussion of the four cognitive functions in the ESTJ function stack.

Dominant Function: Extraverted Thinking (Te)

The dominant function of extraverted thinking Te in the ESTJ function stack enables the person to think logically and analytically without getting too hung up on the vague or abstract and focusing only on the truly real aspects of the situation.

The ESTJ may often come across as a person that is constantly aware of their environment unless they are in a zone of problem-solving, in which case they may become so focused you may have difficulty breaking their flow.

The ESTJ is known as the executive and this may be proven by their function stack, especially their function of the extraverted thinking, which enables them to be efficient problem-solvers, and they are often capable of envisioning the best course of action so that they resolve the issue in the best way possible.

The executive ESTJ, true to their name, maybe natural-born leaders, easily seeing what needs to be done by everyone around and getting the best out of them constantly.

Due to the fact that the thinking function in the ESTj is extroverted and not introverted, they do not spend a lot of time refining or honing their ideas or plans, instead, they may display confidence in their problem-solving and the solutions they come up with.

Bear in mind that this confidence is not unfounded either, the ESTJ is more than capable of actually delivering exactly what they promise.

Auxiliary Function: Introverted Sensing (Si)

The auxiliary function of introverted sensing in the ESTJ function Stack makes them prone to enjoying and wanting real-world experiences. 

They may not do so intentionally, but the ESTJ devote a great deal of attention to how things engage their 5 senses, and any aberrations or unpleasant changes in these things may affect them a lot.

The ESTJ values their own experiences very highly, and probably above the others’ experiences, and they usually show a good memory or understanding of details that pertain to the.

However, the introverted sensing function may make these individuals remember the emotion or the impression of their past experiences, rather than the absolute details that may be remembered by, say introverted thinking.

Tertiary Function:  Extraverted Intuition (Ne)

The tertiary function Extraverted intuition runs primarily in the background in the ESTJ function stack and helps the ESTJ to see beyond what it is to what they may make it into, which means that it allows them to see possibilities and make plans to achieve said possibilities.

This function tends to keep the sensing and thinking somewhat in check soo that the ESTJ does not become too bogged down with details or become too caught up in work or things they are doing.

The observations that the ESTJ makes may be more realistic than someone who has a strong Ne, which allows them to make exceptions and manage the situation in a more malleable and useful way.

They may also not have their head in the clouds and focus on the real possibilities rather than imagining newer ways of doing things or trying out new methods constantly.

Inferior Function:  Introverted Feeling (Fi)

The last function in the ESTJ function stack is the introverted feeling, which is responsible for their morals and values-based decision-making processes and they typically happen in the subconscious, outside of the person’s awareness.

A healthy ESTJ may operate by the “golden rule” of treating others as they would want to be treated themselves, which may earn them a lot of favor with people who are like them but may make them seem somewhat hurtful and blunt to people who are not necessarily so analytical and logical.

The ESTJ may also think of those who feel too much as sensitive and they may not give them a lot of respect, as they value thinking above all else.

Unhealthy ESTJ

The unhealthy ESTJ may use their dominant function of extraverted thinking in a slightly more malicious way, not on purpose, but because their other personality traits may interfere, like in someone with narcissistic tendencies, the person may be dominating, aggressive, controlling, and confrontational. 

While they are great leaders, in an unhealthy ESTJ the same function stack may make for a leader that is the strictest micro-manager and does not believe that others can do as well as they can, considering their own way to be the only “right” on and not listening to other input.

The Unhealthy ESTJ may also be accused of seeing things in black and white and not looking for alternatives to things even if their way is not working.

Carl Jung says in his book Psychological Types “Just as the extraverted thinking type subordinates himself to his formula, so, for their own good, everybody around him must obey it too, for whoever refuses to obey it is wrong – he is resisting the universal law and is therefore unreasonable, immoral, and without a conscience.”

This says everything there is to know about the unhealthy ESTJ, and how their best trait may sometimes be against others.

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

ESTJ Shadow Functions

The shadow functions of the ESTJ are basically the opposites of the main function stack and they are basically the functions which are subdued and subconscious in them and are therefore part of the “shadows”, so to speak, and these are:

  • 5th/Shadow Ti: Introverted Thinking 
  • 6th/Critical Se: Extraverted Sensing 
  • 7th/Blind Spot Si: Introverted Intuition 
  • 8th/Demon Fe: Extraverted Feeling 

These can be described in the following way:

Shadow Ti: This function may cause the person, especially the unhealthy ESTJ, to find loopholes and use systems to their advantage rather than for the problem solving and getting the best out of people manner they might want to use them for. 

They may also be prone to a desire to gain knowledge to focus on their own end, rather than to accomplish something in the real world, and they may use knowledge as a tool and a tool, using it to get ahead.

Critical Ne: This shadow function in the ESTJ function stack may cause the ESTJ to leave no stone unturned and they may search anything and everything just to make their plans come to life and do what they want to do or set out to do.

This function makes their brains a trivia of facts and advantageous information.

Blindspot Si: This shadow function may make the ESTJ unaware of their deeply rooted need for security, and may underlie the need to never “fall behind”, rather than to “always get ahead.”

The introverted sensing function may also make them extremely concerned with maintaining their sense of personal integrity.

Demonic Fe: Lastly, the demonic extroverted feeling may often seem like it is using the ESTJs social power/influence to manipulate others, which may be done to the end of achieving their personal goals in the most efficient manner possible without regard for who it affects.


In this brief guide, we looked at the ESTJ function stack. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you have.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): ESTJ Function Stack

Are ESTJ controlling?

Yes, unhealthy ESTJ can be dominating, controlling, aggressive, and confrontational. 

The ESTJ controlling behavior may stem from the repressed function of introverted feeling.

Who is ESTJ attracted to?

ESTJs are attracted to confident people, who have set goals and are looking to achieve them. 

ESTJs are not attracted to people who are constantly emotional and tend to think based on their feelings and are not able to maintain a sense of control.

What does an Estj need in a relationship?

The ESTJ needs someone with introverted thinking in a relationship as their dominant function is Extraverted Thinking, which is best matched with someone whose dominant function is Introverted Thinking.

The ESTJ might also need some creativity and impulsiveness in the relationship and for this, they might benefit from being with someone who has extroverted sensing.