How Does Your Personality Measure Up?

We talk about women in leadership and the difference between men and women leaders and what skills make for a good leader but what about your personality traits. What personality traits are employers looking for and what types of people are more inclined to be promotion material?

In an article from Business News Daily, they list the top ten personality traits employers are looking for in a successful team member:

  • Hard workers
  • Dependable
  • Positive
  • Self-motivated
  • Team-oriented
  • Organized, and able to manage multiple priorities
  • Good under pressure
  • Effective communicators
  • Flexible
  • Confident

Additionally, they also share the five personality traits that get promoted. So how are they different?

  • The “people” person. Clients, colleagues and bosses all like this person. He or she has a pleasant personality, gets along with others and is enjoyable to be around. A people person is likely to be a good manager or team leader because of these qualities.

  • The delegator. When lower-level employees are given the opportunity to work on a group project, there will always be at least one who assumes the position of leader. This person knows how to give constructive feedback and delegate tasks based on the team members’ strengths.

  • The adapter. This person learns very quickly and is able to adjust to any task or work environment. His or her intelligence and intuition will help in figuring out how to tackle a new role.

  • The decider. A person who is decisive and confident in his or her decisions is a great fit for a leadership position. The ability to choose a direction quickly and effectively is essential for a strategy-based role.

  • The ethical person. No matter what the employee’s role is, his or her actions are guided by a sense of ethics and integrity. This person won’t compromise his or her morals or try to get ahead at the expense of other colleagues.

Personality Traits that Stand Out

As you compare the lists, you may see a few similarities but first let’s examine the differences. The first list is more focused on the individual – self motivated, dependable, organized, works well under pressure. While the traits for a leader – someone who is promotion material is a great communicator, delegator and decision maker. 

The comparison that can be drawn is that first a person must be able to put themselves in other’s shoes – to be a great communicator you must be able to understand your audience, know what motivates them and encourage them to succeed.

You must be able to see the big picture but also understand what goes into the smallest details to make something happen.

I once heard a story of a major retailer who visited colleges recruiting seniors in business management and put them directly into a management program. Once the training was complete they were put into the field to manage of a region of retail stores. Was it a success?


Why? They learned management skills – understanding the P&L, delegating to store managers and being held accountable for the bottom line but they never learned how to interact with their employees; never learned what was involved in each location on a daily basis. 

They may have had the management skills but they didn’t have the personality traits necessary to create a cohesive team that worked together toward a common goal.

The program was dis-banned after a year and the new managers either went on to other positions or in one case, was promoted to vice president. (Don’t get me started – that is a whole different story – let’s call it learning from the worst boss ever.)

Manage vs. Lead

In an article – well worth reading – from the Wall Street Journal, the differences between managers and leaders is discussed – here is a great example:

The manager focuses on systems and structure;

the leader focuses on people.

So where do you stand on the personality scale. How would you rank yourself on the top 10 traits employers are looking for? What about the five traits that get promoted?

Do you like to take quizzes? There sure seem to be a lot of them on Facebook these days. Here is a quiz I found on the Internet – I don’t know how accurate it is but you might find it interesting.

The Big Five Personality Traits. This quiz measures your personality based on the five components of openness, agreeableness, neuroticism, extraversion and conscientiousness, 

Communication is Key

One trait seems to stand out on both lists. Being a great communicator helps whether you are a front line worker at a factory, middle management or leader of the company. Communicating effectively with peers, employees and the board is a great way for encouraging, motivating, team building and innovative problem solving. 

What is your greatest personality trait? 

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Manage vs Lead image from Karco.