The Big 5 Personality Traits of Leaders

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By Kathryn Hawkins

Psychologists have developed a set of dimensions that are used to define the human personality, which every individual falling somewhere on the scale for each trait. Although organizational leaders don’t all behave in similar ways, a number of studies have found similarities in how they rank on the “Big 5” personality scale.

Do you have the personality to be a workplace leader? Here’s a look at the common “Big 5” traits of leadership, according to the executive coaching company Working Resources. Consider the strategies below for developing your own leadership qualities as an administrative professional:

Leaders are typically found to be resilient; that is, they aren’t easily fazed by stressful situations. Focus on learning to become comfortable in new or chaotic situations in the workplace to become the “rock” that others can depend on.

Rather than isolating themselves from others, natural leaders tend to be highly sociable and eager to talk to anyone in the workplace. Expand your social horizons by having lunch with some co-workers you haven’t spent much time with before.

Leaders are highly original, creative thinkers. Instead of simply following the accepted method of doing something, spend time thinking about how you might improve some existing workplace processes.

Generally, leaders aren’t that agreeable—that is, they won’t simply do something because someone tells them to if they have other ideas. Don’t be argumentative for no reason, but if you have a firm opinion, don’t be afraid to express it.

Leaders, by their nature, are heavily focused on a goal, and will not let outside circumstances distract them. If you’re working on a major project that could help you advance in the workplace, consider putting your social life on the back burner until the project is complete.

(This post originally appeared as an article in the November/December 2012 issue of OfficePro magazine. Kathryn Hawkins is a writer and editor based in Portland, Maine. She has written for publications including, GOOD Magazine and Wildlife Conservation; and is owner and editor-in-chief of