What can I say about Leadership Traits? I’ve worked for leaders, been a leader, and coached leaders over a 40+ year career. In that time, I’ve recognized certain leadership traits are common to the majority of great leaders. That’s my subjective observation.
In my coaching practice, I have used personality assessment tools to help me, coach, understand my clients, and to help them understand themselves and their teams. I compiled a list of all company leaders/ CEOs with whom I’ve administered a personality assessment in order to objectively determine which leadership traits are most common. The leaders in this survey all run companies ranging from $1 million in revenue to $50 million.
Most Personality Assessment tools measure Dominance, Extraversion, Patience, and Formality. Good tools, like Predictive Index, and Ngenio’s MPO realize that these traits fall on a spectrum. For instance, in the case of formality, which measures things like precision, attention to detail, and rules following. Some people are extremely rigid and precise while others are extremely flexible, and others still may just be slightly precise. For instance, in the case of the Predictive Index the spectrum looks like this:
What patterns emerge from evaluating my database. Most of the leaders I work with are highly independent and extremely flexible. (note, any of the traits that were within one sigma off the midpoint are not included in these numbers so they do not all add up to 100%)
|Trait||Low Spectrum||Low||High||High Spectrum|
The dominant traits are highly independent and extremely flexible. In terms of dominance, this shows up as self-reliant, independent, venturesome, and innovative among other possible traits. In terms of Formality, they might show up as good on their feet, unworried, instinctive. In addition, the majority are extroverts, which doesn’t necessarily mean they are always talking as much as they know how to work with and through people.
Ninety-Four percent of these leaders are defined as risk-takers in terms of the interaction of their High Dominance over Lower Formality. The interaction between traits is as important if not more important than individual leadership traits. People who are High Dominance and Low Formality are risk-takers. These results are right in line with a study of 9,000 global executives by Russell Reynolds and Hogan Assessment Systems. According to that study, there are two major traits of top CEOs:
- The Ability to Embrace Appropriate Risk – These CEOs don’t just play it safe… they take risks. Well calculated risks.
- A Bias Toward Acting and Capitalizing on Opportunity – In line with risk-taking these CEOs act! They understand what General Patton meant when he said, “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”
The research agrees that the best leaders are willing to make decisions with impartial information. These leaders tend to lean towards action over-analysis or as George Patton said,
A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.
Do you have the key leadership traits required to be a great leader? When is the last time you had a personality assessment? For me, it is a critical element in my leadership coaching. Are you the best CEO you can be (Hint: if you say yes then you are not)? Are you wired for action? Don’t wait for the perfect time, schedule a complimentary, no-obligation one-hour, online coaching session by pressing that little green down there. Do it now and see what it’s like to have an executive leadership coach on your side.