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Consider a workplace where leaders inspire, empower, and transform their teams. We know there is an impact of personality on the ability to do that. The behaviors required to be a versatile leader are supported or not by the personality traits. Therefore there is an interest to look at personality when selecting leaders or developing leadership. 

A recent meta-analysis looked into the existence of bigger factors that could help us to think about leadership: plasticity and stability.


What does science say? 

A comprehensive meta-analysis of personality and leadership outcomes reveals the complex relationship between personality traits and leadership effectiveness. Here are the key findings: 

The Global Factor of Personality (GFP), a higher-order personality construct, emerges as a significant predictor of both transformational leadership and leadership effectiveness. The GFP makes a distinction between plasticity and Stability. As you can see from the image, the Big 5 constructs load on these two factors.

While lower-order personality factors play a role in predicting leadership outcomes, the GFP consistently demonstrates superior predictive power.

What does Practice say? 

What do these findings mean for leadership development? It begins with recognizing the importance of assessing personality beyond traditional measures like the Big Five. 

Leadership development programs can benefit from incorporating assessments that capture broader dimensions of personality, such as the GFP. By focusing on social competence and adaptability, organizations can groom leaders who excel in navigating complex challenges and inspiring others. 

Thinking in two factors might help leaders to understand intra-person and inter-person dynamics. Dealing with change and dealing with operational processes is one of the dilemmas leaders need to tackle. However, we must be careful not to oversimplify. It helps to look at underlying dimensions to develop effective behaviors. We also should be careful not to regress into binary or typology thinking. A 2 by 2 matrix is easily constructed.

Therefore, while the GFP offers valuable insights into leadership effectiveness, its limitations and nuances must be acknowledged. Leadership is indeed multifaceted. 

Finally, personality is just one piece of the puzzle. As organizations strive to cultivate effective leadership, they must balance leveraging personality insights with considering other critical factors such as skills, experience, and situational contexts. 


Leadership is not a one-size-fits-all capability, and personality plays a role in driving leadership outcomes. By embracing a holistic understanding of personality and leadership, organizations can develop their leaders’ “full potential” for sustained success in an ever-evolving business landscape. 


The Research

Do, M. H., & Minbashian, A. (2020). Higher-order personality factors and leadership outcomes: A meta-analysis. Personality and Individual Differences, 163, 110058. 



Photo by Anthony DeRosa:

The results of this 2022 meta-analysis indicate a significant positive effect on employee and team innovation behavior. Moreover, cultural context and team type were found to moderate this relationship. 

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