Five essential personality traits of successful people

I just finished Seth Godin’s newest book, Linchpin, and what a great whack on the head!  Towards the end he talks about the five personality traits that you need to embody to be indispensable: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Emotional Stability. These are not just from him, but considered essential by most psychologists.

I think these are pretty self-explanatory, but provide a framework on which you can evaluate how you stack up. Are you open? Or do you withhold information as way to grab power? (not a good idea). Are you considerate of others? Obviously being an asshole, although it might get results for yourself, is not an endearing quality. Doubt this? read Robert Sutton’s book, The No Asshole Rule.

Extraversion doesn’t mean you need to be the life of the party, but if you’re not able to engage in conversation with relative ease, it’s hard to build relationships with others – and relationships is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to long-term success. Agreeableness certainly doesn’t mean being a yes person – someone without any opinions or a backbone adds little value. But it does mean being able to engage in meaningful discourse and seeing other points of view. There’s a balance between the yes person and the one who’s always right.

Emotional stability? That’s key. Someone who’s unpredictable, volatile is not someone you can easily trust. Nor would you typically want to spend much time around them. Having the emotional strength to receive constructive criticism or work through tough problems and crises a huge benefit.

We’re in the midst of a huge sea change in how we work, compete and thrive. Seth’s premise in this book is that you have a choice – to embrace it, or be a replaceable cog. It’s not for the faint of heart, but nor is our new reality. And he makes the point eloquently. Time to toughen up.

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