Big Five Personality Traits

There is no one perfect "type" of leader. While a sales team might do well with a flamboyant, loud leader, an accounting group might do much better with a detail-oriented, careful leader. There's a perfect fit for every person. The key, though, is to very objectively and accurately figure out what your strengths and challenges are, so you can then find how to fit those best with the industry you're interested in.

So the most important step in leadership and management is for the person taking on those responsibilities to perform an in-depth self analysis of their base line way of looking at the world.

The way most books and programs suggest you do this is to sit down with the following chart of the Big Five Personality Traits. These traits have been researched and investigated for over fifty years, and impressive correlations have been made during that time period.

I suggest before you read any further that you go and take the free online Big Five Personality Test. That way you take the test with any bias about what it's testing, and see what your results are!

Once you have your results, read on!

OpennessLow <-- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 --> High
ConscientiousnessLow <-- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 --> High
ExtraversionLow <-- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 --> High
Smooth WatersLow <-- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 --> High
Emotional StabilityLow <-- 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 --> High

There's no "right" or "wrong" answer here. Every value is a strength in a certain situation. Also, many people change over time. No value is set in stone! People who were extraverted in their early 20s can easily become introverted in their 60s. This is about you right now, in this moment in time.

The traits are:

Openness is about trying new ideas, leaving your comfort zone, taking risks, and going to strange places. How do you feel when you're tossed into an unknown situation? Is this thrilling or unsettling?

Low Openness
documents existing way and follows it
buys same product / car; familiar with it
has a way things should be done

Job Strength:
Perfect for jobs where by-the-book is critical -
- medical field
- nuclear energy
High Openness
explores new ways of getting a project done
tries wildly new products / cars
tries opposing ways of doing things

Job Strength:
Shines where leaps of faith are necessary -
- selling an entirely new product
- developing a never-before-seen technology

Conscientiousness is about attention to detail, following a set plan, and sticking with a path. It is about living an ordered life. Where openness is about known vs unknown, conscientiousness is about actively following the steps vs winging it.

Low Conscientiousness
Happy to change the plan if the whim strikes
Tasks will be done when they fit in
Home / workspace is fairly cluttered

Job Strength:
Perfect for jobs where flexibility is key -
- artist
- crafter
High Conscientiousness
The current plan is set and needs to be followed
Every step matters and is paid close attention to
Every item in its place (and labeled!)

Job Strength:
Shines where accuracy and discipline matter -
- taxes / finance / investing
- military training

Extraversion is how you relate to groups of people. Some people are energized and pumped up when out with a crowd. Others feel drained by the experience and need to retreat to solitude after a period of time.

Low Extraversion
Happiest alone or with one or two close friends
Uncomfortable in social settings
At parties, primarily talk to the people already known

Job Strength:
Perfect for jobs where things are quiet -
- working at home
- park ranger
High Extraversion
Loves to go out to parties and social events
Feels a surge of positive energy when entering a crowded room
Loves meeting new people and mingling at parties

Job Strength:
Shines where crowds are around -
- bartender
- tour guide in a busy city
- musician

Smooth Waters
Smooth Waters is how much you are concerned with "everyone getting along." For example some people will rather lie / fudge the truth instead of upsetting a person; others would rather "tell it like it is" and let the chips fall where they may. Both sides are a strength in different situations! I am open for ideas on what to name this. Many books call this trait "agreeableness" but that implies if you are on the low end that you are "disagreeable" which has negative connotations. I am seeking a better term.

Low Smooth Waters
Tells it straight
I'm the way I am and others should learn to cope
I do things my way

Job Strength:
Perfect for jobs where plain talking are key -
- personal coach
- exercise trainer
High Smooth Waters
Says 'yes' to keep the mood quiet
Puts other peoples' interests first
Keeps quiet about any issues she has so as not to bother others

Job Strength:
Shines where quiet calm are necessary -
- customer service
- spiritual guide / minister

Emotional Stability
Emotional Stability is all about how even keeled your emotions are. Do they tend to delve into deep depressions? Can stress set you off easily? Or are you more even keel, generally free from worry?

Low Emotional Stability
Stress can hit quickly and flare to high levels
Quiet time gives me time to worry
I easily get depressed

Job Strength:
A good fit for jobs with few hurdles or stressors* -
* note - any job *can* be stressful, the key is finding a calm group!
- webmaster at a large, stable company
- internal graphic designer at a large, stable company
- Champagne bottle rotator
High Emotional Stability
Hurdles and challenges do not cause any issues
Quiet time is peaceful and serene
I rarely get depressed

Job Strength:
Perfect for jobs where challenges are frequent and need to be handled with calm serenity -
- working with abused women
- working with troubled kids
- police dispatcher

In order to determine where you fall on these scales, take my free online test!

Big Five Personality Test

Once you've determined your test results and read up on your traits, it's time to see which leadership style best matches your traits!
Leadership Styles

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