The story of your leadership doesn’t just involve a timeline of events in your career. You can paint a much more compelling picture of your true capabilities by understanding your temperament, and revealing your leadership traits.
The ideal leader doesn’t exist
Professional scholars and researchers have spent fifty years attempting to empirically derive a profile of the perfect leader—to no avail. Both business and media culture trends will depict the ideal leader as brilliant, charismatic, and independently driven. But the truth is, there is no ideal leader.
But this is actually far from being a problem. Both employees and executives live unique stories, and can tell of any number of different initiatives, projects and team leadership roles that mark various points in their careers. These stories serve to dispel the concept of the ideal leader: they demonstrate how leadership may manifest in any number of individual experiences, and flourish in many different ways.
The true leadership story isn’t straightforward
As a candidate, you’ll prepare the story of your leadership when you sit a job interview. The plot will be framed by the basic elements of beginning, middle and end, ending with your current employment. You’ll list in chronological order what you’ve done and what you can do—detailing your training, experience, skills, industry knowledge, responsibilities and credentials—and this will represent the development of your career.
But this isn’t what the interviewer is looking for. Your storyline is failing to reveal your self-awareness, which is essential in demonstrating your personal style and disposition. Telling your leadership style is more than detailing your achievements: it’s showing your interviewer the ways you do things, and revealing the character in your roles and performance – that is, revealing your temperament.
Traits are the language to describe your temperament
The paradigm of the ‘Big Five’ personality traits is widely accepted in modern psychology. The set has been researched and refined over decades to define a universal cluster of traits that all people possess—and that are enduring beyond language, culture, context or time.
These traits can be further refined into four scales, to categorise personality types in the context of workplace demands. In this way, these scales can be used as a tool to help improve organisational effectiveness, and support best practices in human resource management. Each trait scale has a cluster of complementary traits at each end of its spectrum, grouped by their similarity.
It’s empowering for you to identify where you fall on these scales, and your personal patterns of traits: it will give you the language to describe your temperament. Using this vocabulary will also give you a reliable framework through which to understand your abilities to cope in different professional settings.
Where your traits fit into the four scales
To foster the self-awareness necessary for effective leadership, you should answer two fundamental questions that will help you to describe your temperament:
- How do I think others view me in my current role?
- What am I truly like?
Each of the scales is a spectrum, and the traits you choose to answer these questions can help you determine where you fall on each one. Reviewing each scale will help reveal your overall temperament.
- I am oriented by goals
- I take risks
- I look for challenges and seek recognition
- I enjoy competition
- I take charge
- I accommodate others
- I work well in a team
- I aim for consensus
- I exercise caution
- I am supportive of others
- I am people-focused
- I build relationships
- I trust others
- I have empathy
- I feel emotions
- I focus on tasks
- I focus on facts
- I logical and objective
- I’m unaffected by emotion
- I consider the pros and cons
- I am easy-going
- I am reliable and patient
- I am evenly paced and calm
- I plan ahead
- I am predictable and consistent
- I am impatient and restless
- My sense of urgency is high
- I am oriented to change
- I prefer variety
- My energy level is high
- I am thorough and pay attention to detail
- I prefer systems and organisation
- I am conscientious
- I operate within guidelines
- I have respect for authority
- I am determined and persistent
- I enjoy freedom of action
- I demonstrate initiative
- I have a strong mind
- I prefer to direct myself
How you tell the story of your leadership
A simple plot of what you’ve done and when you’ve done it throughout your career doesn’t tell your personal story of leadership. The real story of your leadership will show your interviewer your patterns and style of behaving, and the unique mix of traits that makes up your temperament.
Using the language of your traits will help you to show others your high level of self-awareness, and reveal the leadership qualities that will flourish when you’re in the position you want—whether they are taking risks, accommodating and supporting relationships, being patient, or demonstrating initiative.
Rogers Group can provide the simple and accurate assessments that organisations need to identify prospective talent, and understand the importance of temperament in the work environment. We can empower employees to embrace their individual traits to develop a compelling story of their own leadership. And we can give businesses and managers the tools to identify, hire and retain the right candidates for their jobs—so contact us now for more information on how we can help you.