Personality in the Workplace: Leadership

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Who are you? What makes you who you are? According to the American Psychological Association, “personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.” Psychologists and Psychiatrists have laid incredible groundwork on the topic of personality. One of the most referenced regarding personality is Carl Jung. Carl Jung theorized that people are one of two types, introvert or extravert (Allen, 2005). An introvert is one who prefers themselves and seeks interaction or entertainment within themselves or as Jung defined it “turned inward”. Opposingly, an extrovert prefers outside interaction and gain energy from others; according to Jung, “turned outward”. Jung’s theory lead for other ground-breaking work. In the 1970s Paul Costa, Robert R. McCrae and Lewis Goldberg developed the Big Five Factors or more commonly know today as the Five-Factor Model (FFM) (Westerhoff, 2008).


The Five-Factor Model provides five dimensions of human character traits (Westerhoff, 2008). Openness or openness to experience describes people who are adventurous and willing to try new things (Westerhoff, 2008). They are curious, imaginative and artistic. The opposite of this type would be set in their ways and avoids new experiences. Extroversion describes someone who is a social butterfly, talkative and cheerful (Pappas, 2017). As mentioned previously, the opposite of this would an introvert. Agreeableness speaks to how we interact with others (Westerhoff, 2008). Someone who scores high in this area would be compassionate, kind and helpful and on the other hand someone scoring low in this area would be untrusting and uncooperative (Pappas, 2017). Conscientiousness describes how organized someone is (Westerhoff, 2008). High scores in this area are people who like to plan and are analytical and low scores in this more cavalier and spontaneous (Pappas, 2017). Finally, neuroticism measures emotional stability (Westerhoff, 2008). High scores in this area are anxious, easily depressed and worries a lot whereas low scorers are confident and calm. (Pappas, 2017).

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Inspired by Carl Jung, in 1942 Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers created a personality test (Stauss, 2015). Commonly known today as the MBTI or the Myers Brigss Type Indicator, divides its users into 16 types seeking to bring more awareness to how people think and act (Strauss, 2015). The test uses a combination of categories to type people, introvert vs. extrovert, intuitive vs. sensory, thinking vs. feeling and judging vs. perceiving (Strauss, 2015). There has also been previous research to match the broadness of the definition of personality. This was done by introducing a sixth factor to the established five, Honesty-Humility (Ashton et al., 2004).

There has already been extensive research into the role of personality in the workplace. Personality motivators our behaviors and as a result effects our choices. Those same choices could lead to opportunities and advancement. For example, in the workplace, do all members of leadership possess the same personality traits or are they rewarded due to their ambition and skill? Previous studies have determined that individuals who possess the triple dark threat (Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism) are highly skilled a manipulating and influencing others for personal gain thus enabling them to maximize on their networking abilities, higher ratings on performance and climb the corporate ladder (Snyder, 1983; Templer, 2018; Ferris et al., 2007).

Another perspective was introduced in a previous study that suggests individuals with higher scores of extravert develop a scheme for personal gain (Bourdage, Wiltshire & Lee, 2015). These individuals will overemphasize and even lie about their abilities to secure a position or become the primary choice in advancement opportunities (Weiss & Feldman, 2006).

I would like to investigative if personality is the motivating factor behind the managerial success. I hypothesize that the participants in this study share high scores of a specific trait. The null hypothesis will show that there is no common trend amongst the personalities of the participants.


For this research study, I will select (N=10) participants from various departments in a financial institution located in Glen Allen, Virginia. Each participant will be required to have a position of management or supervising authority of 1 year or greater. Personality will be measured using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Tenure and job title information and management history will also be collected via self-report questionnaire. The participants will take the MBTI in a conference room on their work provided laptops with me present to answer or clarify and questions.

This study seeks to understand the behaviors of personality in relationship to managerial or supervisorial positions in a workplace. Qualitative and thematic analysis will be used to find common themes and trends amongst the participants to support or reject my hypothesis. These methods of data collections are ideal because personality is best measured via self-report due to its descriptive nature whereas observation is not reliable because one cannot definitively define a personality through action. Qualitative analysis is the best approach as I am only trying to gain further understanding and not actually measuring data numerically. The sources selected in my background information may bee useful in predicting which specific trait will have the highest scoring. For example, if 60% of the participants are high in conscientiousness then I can predict that that trait maybe be essential for leadership positions. Whereas if the 70% are high in extraversion, I could examine further if the participant advancement was due to behaviors related to the triple dark threat.

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Personality in the Workplace: Leadership. (2022, Jun 10). Retrieved from

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