Of the “Big Five” personality traits, the two David Brooks (my last post) culled from research that are more common among big company CEOs should be no surprise. For workers in general the most important has always been known – Conscientiousness. That is about following through, doing what you said you would, delivering the result. There’s an overtone of dogged persistence, true, but lots of people stick to their word without seeming to have fixate on detail or being ‘grinders.’
The second trait he pulled out is Emotional Stability. Is it any wonder a big company CEO might need the skills or temperament to tolerate rocky surroundings and keep on trucking? You can’t get to the top without being severely buffeted by conflicting demands, crazy work expectations and dramatically challenging personalities around you. To forge ahead Conscientiously in that environment takes Emotional Stability, for sure. We hope in personal life to have it a bit smoother, but for many it isn’t too different.
The fact these traits are possessed by pretty much every big company exec – and needed in most of what we ourselves do – stick-to-it-iveness and the emotional balance to persist long enough to get results – should be no surprise. So they’re ‘common’ to everyone. But that’s not to say these are their only traits nor that having them makes them ‘dull’ as Brooks argues. The top notch people I mentioned are or were highly unique personalities that we’d describe as anything, but dull.
The problem is exactly that these two are not ‘enough’ to get the very best results. Beyond sticking to it and staying the course, we need to be creative, able to work well in teams and energetic enough to care to, whatever the origin of that energy – belief, faith, commitment to a great goal, faith in people, whatever. These other three can all come from very different sources, hence the uniqueness of personality and style we see. When we look deeper we see that the first two traits can come from very different sources, too, not just gritting our teeth discipline.
Viva variety. Yet we see the five core needs for success are pretty much the same five in every endeavor, for every person. HOW they achieve them can be unique, but not whether they work. These are the five skill areas I work to help people discover and develop – ones that turn up in every book on success and which anyone can build for themselves if they simply keep focused and keep adding to steadily, conscientiously. throughout our entire lives: it isn’t over till it’s over. unless you flat out give up.