Leadership

Why people with agreeable personalities are less likely to become top managers

Shana Lebowitz
Strategy Reporter, Business Insider
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Leadership?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Entrepreneurship is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

leadership

When it comes to the likelihood that you’ll get promoted into a top leadership position at your company, there are a few obvious factors to consider. How long have you been at the organization? Have you received stellar performance reviews?

Yet recent data from Truity Psychometrics suggests there’s another important factor that helps determine your leadership potential: your personality.

According to Truity’s findings, “Thinkers,” or those who are more analytic and logical, tend to manage bigger teams than “Feelers,” or those are more sensitive to other people’s needs. Feelers also tend to be high in “agreeableness,” which refers to your tendency to prioritize a group’s needs over your own.

Other research on the link between agreeableness and leadership helps explain Truity’s findings. In one study, researchers asked people to evaluate potential candidates for a management position.

Those who demonstrated agreeable traits were less likely to be recommended for advancement — especially if they were male.

Why are disagreeable people perceived as more effective leaders? Psychologist Art Markman, Ph.D., suggests that employees appreciate a boss who can give frank feedback — and agreeable people are known for their difficulty providing criticism.

Moreover, the Truity report notes that disagreeable people are more likely to promote themselves, so they have a better chance of achieving higher status at work.

Of course, the most effective managers will learn from other personality types and use that knowledge to develop their leadership style. For example, Markman advises people low in agreeableness to temper their criticism with empathy and to understand the impact their feedback may have. Similarly, he suggests that people high in agreeableness think about potential flaws in the ideas they receive.

Ultimately, the ideal leaders will be flexible, willing to adjust their management style based on the particular environment and their coworkers’ needs.

This article is published in collaboration with Business Insider. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

To keep up with the Agenda subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Author: Shana Lebowitz is a Strategy reporter for Business Insider.

Image: A woman with a book sits on a bench at the departure area at the Fraport airport in Frankfurt. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
LeadershipBusiness
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

5 strategies Young Global Leaders  use to navigate complex times

Kulé Galma and Danny Richmond

June 11, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum