Reflections on Personality as a Function of Leadership

Reflections on Personality as a Function of Leadership

Reflecting on my personality, this post discusses my intentions to leverage the dimensions of my personality to engage in authentic and impactful leadership.

“Dream big, start small, fail fast and scale accordingly,” is the hype phrase of our time, broadly toted worldwide by the most influential business strategists and technology pioneers, as the “how to” in becoming the next “Google”. And while this mantra, seems rooted in “agile” computer science and business philosophy (Joseph Schumpeter, 1942), its true meaning is easily served as a framework for leveraging personality in leadership roles. In this post, I discuss my personality strengths are the bedrock for my leadership style, and how I intend to use my careful reflection of my personality to drive strong, impactful leadership in all areas of my life.

Through reflection, I established that my personality strengths and attributes aggregate under the four fundamental themes of the agile mantra: dream big, start small, fail fast and scale accordingly.

Firstly is the theme “dream big.” I remember from as early as childhood, I have consistently been an entrepreneur with a fiery passion to take on the any challenge in the world. As a child, innocently and naturally, I had a growth mindset and always went out of my way to help people, taking on roles of leading sport games during lunch hour in elementary school, helping found two local not-for-profit organizations, leading up to presiding over multiple student-serving committees in high school. The coupling of clear extroversion and an appetite to learn, I was always incredibly open to new experience and quite curious. This means dreams were made very large, and geared toward learning, exploring and doing in the pursuit of helping others.

Secondly, “start small” is referred to as “not boiling the ocean,” which is something that goes my slight preference as a sensing thinking, versus an intuitive thinker. I enjoy knowing all of the details, thanks to my curiosity, and building a strategic thesis with a hierarchy and in priority sequence before starting a project. However, being near the borderline between the two, I am able to leverage my strength of needing to understand concepts deeply, but then make a conscious effort to tackle the project from the top of the pyramid downward.

A great example of this was in role as a business owner, where we built our our master strategy, but executed and communicated in a small priority-by-priority way. This is key to transformational leadership, as it makes sharing ideas for effective, dividing up work a more fair, simple and democratic process, and for enrolling people in smaller parts to a larger vision, as they appear strategic, meaningful, achievable, realistic and time-based. This means starting small is a leadership strategy to maximize support, resource and engagement.

Thirdly, “fail fast” is a critical notion of my personality, as I prefer coming to conclusions quickly and moving on, and show a steady state of emotion. This is supported by my MBTI assessment results as clearly judging, and Five Factor Model results as showing low low in neuroticism. I could list a thousand examples of failures or difficult situations, where my bounceback and resilience occurred almost instantaneously, from receiving a poor grade in an assignment, to responding to a major fire or car accident, to packing up and leaving Toronto to do my MBA over a single weekend in response to the opportunity. To fail fast means to be resilient in the face of challenging circumstances, by leaping over the fire with faith, rather than walking through it like hope, which thinks wishfully that it will not be burned.

Finally, “scale accordingly,” is the glue of the agile mantra that ties big dreams to their attainable reality. Working with a very mechanical and process-oriented mind, my greatest personality strength, I think, is using logic in an agreeable way. This means taking in ideas through collaborative and thorough research, using agreeableness and then applying lessons to a greater logical repository in a hierarchy. I find it much easier to maintain integrity when things are organized, categorized and clear. Furthermore, this integrity is needed to keep face in leadership with stakeholders, teams, and to be effective in ensuring quality. The vast majority of people I’ve worked with have clearly identified the need to see some short term value relative to their contribution, as a means of ongoing motivation. When a vision is divided into manageable pieces, scaling accordingly becomes seemingly easier relative to successes and failures, which I believe enables teams to be more resilient and in my case, my leadership to be most effective.

Leadership is clearly not a textbook skill, nor is it something innate or even entirely personal. Nonetheless, the impact of our leadership depends on the leadership style we employ, which we can base on inherent personality strengths or through developing behaviours to support weaknesses. While both are important, it is imperative to remember that strengths are a natural development, and so the key to powerful and impactful leadership is leading through understood strengths. I challenge readers to reflect on their personality strengths and to consider how they align with the agile themes of dream big, start small, fail fast and scale accordingly.

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