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Paranoid Bosses - SFJ Personality Type in Employee Management

Updated on September 13, 2017
Ms Dee profile image

Deidre has a Masters in applied linguistics and translation for her 20 years overseas, then she worked as a certified provider of the MBTI®.

The Paranoid Boss enjoys people stopping by their office for impromptu visits, but then becomes stressed about their interrupted routine. You may be wondering how to deal with a good boss turned bad boss. They like to spend time with you during the day and can get paranoid about hurting your feelings or you hurting theirs. They don’t really come out and say that they don’t have time. If this is the case, there is a good chance your boss is an "SFJ"—those who favor the Sensing, Feeling and Judging preferences, as described by the Myers-Briggs® concepts of personality type.

The reason I mention the “SFJ” has this tension between being sociable and supportive vs. management of their schedule is because they can be so reluctant to bring it up themselves. They are the type of managers who are:

Afraid of getting hurt

by Capture Queen
by Capture Queen | Source
  • Warmly personable,
  • anxious to please, and
  • conflict paranoid, as well as
  • sticklers for rules,
  • painfully detail-focused
  • change-resistant, and those who
  • follow the manual.

One thing they do have going for them, though, is that they are also dutiful, even gracious doers for others.

The people who are industriously helpful

Instead of friendly productive bosses, though, I call the “SFJs” paranoid because of their ever present, underlying fear—a fear of hurting others’ feelings and of their own getting hurt. Objective, even constructive criticism is so-o difficult for them to not take personally.

If you are one of these "SFJ" bosses, hopefully you are one with a sense of humor who can try to look at this with just a tad of objectivity. Otherwise, I can just hear you clicking “Delete.”

Senior management loves ESFJs and ISFJs, at least before their plate gets too overloaded. They are the people who make sure somebody is getting everything that needs doing done and that protocols are followed. "SFJs" are just the ones to provide caring customer service according to protocol. They believe in authority and following orders and they will never be a ‘slacker.’

Delegating Effectively

Working for the "SFJ"

The “SFJ” boss (ESFJ or ISFJ) are very responsible and expect the same of others. They rely on standard operating procedures and stress the importance of day-to-day operations, and they in turn can gently prod others to remember to go by the rules, as well.

You “SFJ” bosses will focus on structured, tangible results. Not only this, at the same time in situations that require decisions to be made and conflict avoided, you respect others’ input and use a more harmonious, consensus building approach.

You have a thing for being ready with handy tips and advice, for orchestrating resources and for gently nudging others toward task completion. You find such enjoyment in helping others achieve and are so kind and sympathetic that, should this be all there was to productivity, you would merrily keep on completing tasks—yours … and everyone else’s. However, you find it so hard to say ‘no’ that your plate then fills to overflowing!

What's the problem?

"So what's the problem?” you're saying, particularly you who are "SFJs." In life you must bring harmony and good will to most any situation, or else you just may get hurt … or offend someone else. ESFJs invented management based on values, sensible rules, and loyal adherence to them … along with hardly ever saying “no."

Very practical help if you can't quit your job

Working for You Isn't Working for Me: How to Get Ahead When Your Boss Holds You Back
Working for You Isn't Working for Me: How to Get Ahead When Your Boss Holds You Back

Great insights! Identifies behaviors of difficult people and put names to feelings they provoke. Helps me observe objectively and offers very practical and reasonable advice in how to respond.


Working under "SFJ" “shoulds” and “should nots”

When you're working for the "SFJ," you understand the value of rules, as they define it—a tedious, detailed, exacting slog. Don't bring up vision, imaginativeness, or inventiveness. These qualities belong with risky adventures and paragliding, not in a business. Their view is that this is just too jeopardizing!

“SFJs” dominate, rule, and run the public service parts of organizations. They hold themselves and others to the procedure manual for ‘everybody’s good.’ They are very loyal, almost to a fault. Sacrificing their own needs and their drive for harmony often puts their own welfare low on their list of priorities. Then they may begin to feel like the hired help. They may complain about all the work, responsibilities or demands placed on them.

Easily dismayed


Do not be surprised if, when you try to spare them such agonies and try to lighten their load, they become dismayed and disappointed. Should you try to rescue them, they will in turn be hurt and consumed with guilt.

They are paranoid of criticism, taking so readily any sort of criticism as a general indictment of his or her character.

It may come as a surprise that the “SFJ” boss can become very depressed and down on his or herself simply because of the absence of positive affirmation.

The “SFJs” are essential human resource staff

When the “SFJs” avoid too much overload and manage their sensitivities, they have the gift for incredible productivity and making a team productive. However, their team members tend to tire of their boss’ complaints of overloaded schedules and his or her resistance to being rescued or to helpful criticism.

Both ESFJs and ISFJs have much in common, but there are some significant differences in their approach.


ISFJs are in health and food services, teaching and administration. They dominate many aspects of

  • customer service,
  • financial advising,
  • personnel management,
  • education,
  • health care, and
  • one-on-one public service.

Their sense of duty is highly developed as the dependable bulwark who will always be there when needed, waiting silently. They will give in to taking a leadership role if 'duty calls.' They are quick, easygoing, neat, orderly and they do their best work in orderly, stable environments with clearly defined tasks and lines of authority. Work must adhere to standard procedures and produce tangible results. They don't want anyone 'messing with' making changes to supposedly make things better—especially when it is not broken and does not need fixing.

Impose order, gently



ESFJs make up a big part of organizational people management. They revere hierarchy and lead by

  • providing clear, well-defined guidelines and instructions,
  • ensuring everyone is kept well-informed, and by
  • expecting a high degree of loyalty.

These are the people who are in tune with specific needs of individuals and are especially sensitive to nuances that make for happy and cared for team members. At the same time they impose order and structure on any situation—gently, yet firmly.

They want and need

  • service-oriented goals to work towards,
  • clearly defining roles in an organized setting, and
  • regular recognition or appreciation.

In conflict situations, they are tactful with those they supervise and strive not to offend others or create additional conflict, and make sure to refer to the manual so that the proper rules are followed. They are hard workers, organized and conscientious; liking best to work with a cooperative team.

How to deal with difficult people

© 2011 Deidre Shelden


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    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      Sueswan, I love having your ISFJ take on this! It is music to my ears that you love the customer service aspect of your job. This is where I've seen ISFJs most satisfied :). Yes, message delivery is so important.

      I've seen SFJs get out-of-balance when stressed by a heavy work load (and in loving to serve it can be easy to take on too much), and that is when the SFJ sensitive/empathetic nature can get overly so and thus 'paranoid' and less flexible. So glad this does not seem to be you :).

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      His Ms Dee

      A very interesting and informative hub. I am not a boss but I am a ISFJ.

      I have an administrative position and the customer service accept of my job is the most enjoyable and important to me.

      I do like routine but I am flexible. So if I was a boss, I wouldn't be one that goes exactly by the book.

      I don't like change for the sake of change and there is nothing wrong with constructive criticism but not criticizing for the sake of critcizing.

      Being a sensitive and empathetic person, who doesn't like to deliberately hurt people's feelings, I think it is important how we deliver our message when dealing with others. It's not only the words but the tone.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      8 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Great hub! I am fascinated with MBTI 16 psychological types. I enjoyed this hub immensely.

    • Web World Watcher profile image

      Web World Watcher 

      8 years ago

      Helpful hints for a healthier workplace. Thank you so much

    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      I'm so glad you popped in, Hbn, to look and to share your own experience and confirm what happens when this type gets overwhelmed. We all show a particular pattern when overwhelmed according to our personality, and it can be hard to see in ourselves but can be so easily seen by others :).

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      8 years ago from South Carolina

      Like Treasuresofheaven, I saw this hub on the homepage of HP and came in to take a look at it. Well written and interesting hub. Have sometimes worked with bosses like this in my government jobs. It can be disconcerting because as you pointed out in this hub, they have many admirable traits that can make them great to work with, but when they get overwhelmed or their own boss criticizes them their whole personality can temporarily change. I'm retired now and no longer have to work for any boss, but I still enjoyed this hub.

      Thanks for sharing this fun and useful info.

    • Treasuresofheaven profile image

      Sima Ballinger 

      8 years ago from Michigan

      Ms. Dee, I saw this Hub on home page of Hub. You really explain the personality types - I loved reading and understanding personality. Personality types are facinating.

      Old school bosses didn't have the opportunities that bosses of today have. I think we are more tolerant of different styles of bosses. Good read!

    • Niki Hampton profile image

      Niki Hampton 

      8 years ago from Oregon

      Great hub! Now I'm trying to figure out what kind of boss I am. lol

    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      So great to have your read and comment, GracieLake! Yes, STJ bosses are so painfully unimaginative and uncreative. I agree, they are afraid of it--afraid of it losing them control. Congratulations on being your own boss! :)

    • GracieLake profile image


      8 years ago from Arizona

      I think I'd rather have an SFJ boss than the STJ boss I used to have. He started out collaborative but then simply became so risk-averse that there was no creativity allowed.

      I tried for many years but then he became paranoid that I was trying to take over his job. I solved the problem by starting my own business, so now I'm the boss!

      Thanks for the thought-provoking info!

    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      Hi, chspublis! Lol, yes, I guess that does tag you in a certain sense. It is fascinating to me that there are definite preferences for certain types of mental functions that reveal similarities, but then see the differences between people of even the same type. I can see both the similarities and the differences at once!

    • chspublish profile image


      8 years ago from Ireland

      Interesting and stimulating read. I'm inclined to not put tags on personalitites, nonetheless, this is probalby a helpful way to deal with many personalitites in the workplace. I come from the mediating aspect of things. i guess that puts a tag on me!! Thanks.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      You can say that again! I opened my own company and now I have to boss me around! I'm awful to work for! Lol

    • Ms Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Deidre Shelden 

      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      You hung in there for a good while, RealHousewife. :) What it comes down to also, these types who are quite different from us, also have to put up with us, too.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I think I bit my tongue for about 5 years straight:)!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I love it! I see that you have written a hub on STJ:) My last boss suffered from that - hence - LAST!


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