You.Life.Business.Growth.8.2: The Personality of Leadership

You can’t have business growth without personal growth. That’s because both come from finding unity between you, your life and your business. I previously developed a series of seven articles on this theme, based on the following model:

Breakthrough Growth

I’ve written previously about the modern ‘snake oil’ of personality tests and character strengths tests. In this article, I look at two scientifically-backed personality tests, and at how personality lines up to authentic leadership.

True Tests of Personality

At the time of writing, there are two scientifically valid tests of personality: the ‘Big Five’ and HEXACO (an extension of the ‘Big Five’). Both are scientifically valid.

The Big Five test is built (not surprisingly) on five widely-accepted essential character traits:

  1. Neuroticism is the tendency to frequently experience negative emotions such as anger, worry and sadness, as well as being interpersonally sensitive. The HEXACO test calls this ’emotionality.’
  2. Extraversion is the tendency to be talkative, sociable, enjoy others and to have a dominant style.
  3. Openness is the tendency to appreciate new art, ideas, values, feelings and behaviours.
  4. Agreeableness is the tendency to agree and go along with others, rather than assert one’s own opinions and choices.
  5. Conscientiousness is the tendency to be careful, on time for appointments, to follow the rules and to be hard working.

To these five dimensions, the HEXACO test adds honesty-humility. This is the tendency to avoid manipulating others for personal gain, feeling little temptation to break the rules, have no interest in lavish wealth and luxuries, and to feel no special entitlement to elevated social status. You can find out more about and take the HEXACO test here.

Research-backed Personality Tests

A recent university study of 1.5 million people took the ‘Big Five’ research-validated test. The massive data set yielded four research-backed personality types:

  1. Average people are high in neuroticism and extraversion, while low in openness; this is the most common personality type.
  2. The Reserved type is emotionally stable but not open or neurotic; they are not particularly extraverted but are somewhat agreeable and conscientious.
  3. Role Models score low in neuroticism and high in all the other traits. They are good leaders, dependable and open to new ideas.
  4. Self-centred people score very high in extraversion and below average in openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness; this is the type that points to psychopathy.

Leaders are Role Models

It should be no surprise that authentic leaders fit with the Role Model personality type: not neurotic, extravert, open, agreeable and conscientious. Authentic leaders are empathic, strong characters. They’re difficult to intimidate and stay calm in the face of outrageous behaviour. They commonly refuse to accept lies, untruths or dissimulation. Authentic leaders are capable of developing conversations that counter the smothering dominance of workplace psychopaths or sociopaths.

Authentic leaders’ personalities further influence their character strengths, the subject of the next article.