Is There An Ideal Leader Personality?


I’ve recently taken on an interesting assignment for a well known global company. I am using the Hogan Personality Assessment to help its leaders understand their personality. It is more interesting than usual because I am working with a broad cross-section of highly successful leaders. Like me, you might be wondering if there is an ideal leadership personality?

Is there an ideal leader personality?

I work with each leader to help them understand their personality. This includes what motivates them, and how they are likely to react under stress. Back to the big question. Is there an ideal profile? From what I have seen so far there isn’t. I have observed a variety of personalities. Some are highly ambitious, others prefer to let others take the lead. Some are very creative and others are more pragmatic and task oriented. It is fair to say I’ve seen a number of opposites and both have successful careers.

These leaders have figured out how to take advantage of their strengths and for the most part, learned to mitigate some of their weaknesses. This is very encouraging and suggests they have a growth mindset, as outlined by Carol Dweck. It is easy to fall into the story, I’m not like that so I can’t do it. So what have these leaders done to take full advantage of who they are?

The most important thing is to know ourselves

The most important thing is to know themselves. By understanding our natural, underlying tendencies, we give ourselves a choice. This is a choice how we wish to react under pressure. When we see our pattern playing out, we can choose a different one. It is not easy to do, it can be learned.

We can mitigate our weaknesses

Recognizing we can’t change who we are, we can change the make up of our team. Some of these leaders have added people to their team who have opposing personalities. For example, the leader who is tough and direct adds a trusted team member with a high level of empathy. They can use them as a sounding board. Some leaders hadn’t realized what they believe is normal is abnormal for others. Having someone who is different to you is an ideal way to avoid being blind-sided.

You are at a disadvantage if you don’t have a good understanding of your personality. It is a bit like driving a car with part of the windshield covered. Before I started using the Hogan Assessment, I was skeptical about personality assessments. One of my clients summed up most people’s reaction. He said the results were eerily accurate. If you are skeptical like I was, I recommend you give it a try. It might well change how you lead.

Comments (2)

This is a great point Andy. Our style, our personality, is mostly invisible to us for the simple reason that we work through our style, rather than with it in a conscious way.

I think the other thing that’s really helpful with a good assessment tool is a skilled interpreter, someone who can have a conversation to ensure that our reflection on the results of the personality assessment is productive.

Thank you Phillip, I agree these conversations can be interesting but not productive. Translating these insights into the practical context of the leader’s role is critical.

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