7 Personality Traits of Successful Executives

Strong senior executives don’t make it to the top by chance. As they work their way up the corporate ladder, they acquire the right mix of skills and experience to succeed in higher leadership positions.

But why do some leaders plateau while others go on to become successful senior executives? It all comes down to core competencies, or the innate personality traits that drive a leader’s behaviors and motivations.

In assessing tens of thousands of candidates for leadership positions, OutMatch has determined that top executives share 7 distinct personality traits that make them successful leaders of companies.

1. Visioning

When someone first transitions into leadership, they oversee team members and roll out new initiatives, but at the highest level of leadership, they’re responsible for defining the overall vision and strategy for the company.

Key personality traits: reflective thinking, assertiveness, self-reliance

2. In-depth problem solving and analysis

Because decisions at this level impact the fate of the company, the ability to carefully evaluate information against possible courses of action is essential. This competency helps leaders find good solutions to difficult problems.

Key personality traits: reflective thinking, fact-based thinking, and realistic thinking

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3. Championing change

The ability to transform ideas into action begins with organizational support and buy-in. Without it, important change initiatives will stagnate, people will question the leader’s ability to execute, and stakeholders will lose faith in the company’s potential for growth.

Key personality traits: assertiveness, work pace, frustration tolerance

4. Driving for results

Driving for results is all about making things happen. After the vision has been defined, it must be set in motion. This competency drives leaders to challenge the status quo and strive for new levels of economic performance, resource efficiency and more.

Key personality traits: assertiveness, self-reliance, realistic thinking

5. Influencing and persuading

Convincing others to adopt a course of action requires sharp communication skills and a persuasive argument, but this competency targets a leader’s ability to connect with others and generate enthusiasm for new ideas.

Key personality traits: assertiveness, sociability, work pace

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6. Managing others

Leaders at all levels must effectively direct the activities of others, encourage performance, and hold people accountable. This competency continues to be important as leaders transition from managing individuals to managing other leaders and department heads.

Key personality traits: assertiveness, work pace, optimism

7. Organizational savvy

Leaders must have a keen understanding of organizational politics and work within these dynamics to build and maintain alliances. Without these alliances, leaders will struggle to get resources and accomplish objectives.

Key personality traits: insight, sociability, criticism tolerance

These characteristics have proven time and again to separate strong senior executives from those who lack effectiveness.

Interestingly, these same traits could also apply to a broader scope of leadership, such as the presidency. And so, as a CEO sits atop our nation’s government for the first time in history, performance in these areas will likely shape his ability to deliver on behalf of his customers — the American people.

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