The characteristics of a person’s personality determine his leadership capabilities. Leaders from around the world all have distinct characteristics which define their leadership style and abilities. In a corporate culture, these personality traits can be capitalized upon to direct an organization towards its goals and to do so requires an in depth understanding of the different styles of personality traits that define every individual. A grasp on this knowledge would allow any leader to have a huge impact on the culture and performance of an organization. An observation to be made is the leveraging of personality traits may be utilized in order to achieve corporate goals.
To create a competitive advantage, management’s focus must be on cooperation and inspiration. A clear link exists between culture and performance, as shown by Mindy L. Hall (Hall, 2005.) A leader’s personality shapes the environment in which employees function, and can either inspire extraordinary results, or devastating outcomes. Hostile conditions in the workplace will cause anxiety, stress, lack of energy, disengagement, or high turnover. Subsequently, organizations with these issues experience a lower quality of output.
This negatively affects the relationship between consumers and businesses, who may find the competition more appealing. A positive engagement between management and employees excite a higher level of performance. From this, a company experiences higher quality output and satisfied customers. A best way to manage a company doesn’t exist; it must be studied, understood, and honed to best match or shape the organization’s culture. The key issue to choosing the appropriate manager in any organization is appreciating what goals and desires are sought after.
This report is focused primarily on management as leaders and employees as subordinates. However, it must be understood that subordinates can also play the role as leader in their own context, and it should be encouraged. For example, a group of four employees are assigned to a project. Among this group will emerge a leader who directs the mission to accomplish said assignment. Although this individual does not possess a management title he or she is still leading. That being stated, an organization must possess a deep understanding of its business culture, and employ these concepts when prospecting for competent employees and management. Furthermore, management can recognize certain personality traits among individuals in a team, and manipulate and combine them in a synergetic way.
In general, the comprehension of the various personality traits can be used as a measurement of how an individual may respond and perform in an organization’s culture. However, there is much debate as to the extent to which personality can predict behavior, and the extent to which behavior arises from the dynamics of a given situation (Kendrick, Funder, 1991.) The key issues in a corporate context include the big five personality traits, Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, attitude, and emotional intelligence.
The Big Five Personality Traits
General agreement exists among researchers regarding the big five personality traits. This model categorizes personalities into five distinct categories: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism, and Openness. An understanding of these categories often referred to as OCEAN, gives insight to an individual’s underlying personality and how an individual would react in day to day operations of an organization. However, research has shown situational factors play a role in how individuals move between the two extremes of each personality factor.
Each factor is a range of two extremes, which most individuals lie somewhere in between. Given this fact, the majority of decisions made by people are representative of their fundamental personality traits. Only when abnormal or extreme situations arise does an individual shift towards the extreme of either end on one or more factors. Managers seeking to create a winning team would do well to not only understand his own personality type, but also individual team member’s personality types. Intimate knowledge of each person among a group will allow for a more harmonious and efficient team effectively utilizing strengths and mitigating weaknesses.
Attitudes of managers and employees contribute greatly to the working environment. An attitude is a collection of beliefs and feelings brought on by life experiences or learned from others, and a positive or negative analysis of one’s environment. Similar attitudes of a leader and a team can create a positive working environment that flows all the way down to the end consumer. Leaders of an organization who commit to reinforcing positive attitudes contribute to a successful business model. Individuals who are satisfied with the work environment make their duties a part of life, and commit skills and knowledge to drive progress of a business.
A study conducted by MBA’s and one professor from India, (Tandon, Mishra, Singh, 2011,) explored the relationship between attitude and how an organization perceives its position in society. The study begins by stating that business behavior has both economic and relational impact. Over recent decades there have been significant changes in the social expectation from business and managers. This study found that one’s personal beliefs, values, and attitude drive commitment to social responsibility. In this writing social responsibility can be thought of as organizational commitment or responsibility. The study took a specific look into how spirituality, materialism, relativism, and idealism discriminate between high and low corporate social responsibility (CSR).The study conducted found idealism and spirituality to have a positive influence on CSR, and materialism and relativism had a negative or less of an influence.
This implies that managers with more of a concern towards society’s beliefs and values, and less towards material things, will have a greater concern towards creating a positive internal working environment. Moreover, a manager with this attitude may push subordinates towards the same ideals, which create a more efficient environment. In contrast, materialistic and relativistic attitudes contributed negatively towards CSR. This suggests that individuals with these attitude types can create an environment where monetary gain and possession of assets are the only goal, and right and wrong is near irrelevant. This mentality can have a devastating effect on society’s perception of a corporation.
Moreover, the connection between working peers can be non-existent, and coordination would lack causing inefficiency. A manager’s attitude can bring about the benefits of a positive working environment by keeping a positive attitude towards a given position in an organization. An attitude based on working towards an end goal, which produces the greatest good for society and a corporation, would be an ideal mentality for any organization. Attitudes contribute to a successful business model because individuals who are satisfied make their duties a part of life, and commit their skills and knowledge to driving the progress and success of the business.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory of human motivation based on increasing levels of needs. This theory suggests that human needs are fulfilled one at a time by accomplishing basic needs and proceeding upwards towards advanced needs. Although there is much debate as to the accuracy of these levels research has suggested a correlation between the fulfillment of these needs and happiness. Managers with an understanding of what level individuals in a team are on can manipulate motivation techniques to stimulate productivity and efficiency. Maslow’s hierarchy can be applied to compensation, job design, management techniques, or anything that requires a higher level of motivation.
Maslow’s hierarchy is a systematic way of thinking about the different needs employees have at any given point and explains different reactions they may have to similar treatment (Carpenter, Bauer, Erdogan, 2009.) The definition provided implies that each individual perceives needs differently, and managerial techniques in this context must be applied more specifically. For example, two employees receive a raise after a massive project was finished. The first employee is satisfied with the raise because her safety, and subsequently her physiological, needs had been fulfilled. The second employee felt his needs had not been satisfied. His goal in finishing the project was to prove his worthiness as a manager. His intention through his hard work was to climb the corporate ladder. He was looking to fulfill his esteem and self-actualization needs.
Physiological needs are satisfied through compensation, since a paycheck allows individuals to find nourishment, shelter, etc. Compensation can satisfy more than one need, however. Safety needs can be satisfied through benefits such as 401K, health plans, or paid time off. In many ways, compensation satisfies both physiological and safety needs. In addition, organizations must take in consideration the physical safety of employees. Managers have a duty to enforce safety precautions where working conditions may be hazardous. When a position requires employees to take physical risk an organization is expected to protect workers from unnecessary harm, and to compensate for the higher risk. When feelings of anxiety are low safety needs have been fulfilled.
Social needs can be met through satisfactory social interaction with others in which there is interaction. The goal in satisfying this need is to cause individuals to feel accepted and loved. In a business context there must be a focus on acceptance over love. Creating a friendly environment is a great start to satisfying this need. Company sponsored games, events, holiday parties, and other social activities are great examples of how to socialize a staff. Also, team meetings where the staff can voice their concerns or ideas can allow team members to better understand each other.
Esteem needs can be satisfied after one feels she has been accepted into a group. These needs can be fulfilled through recognition. It must be stressed that individuals enjoy being praised for their accomplishments, but praise only works for a limited amount of time. Managers must look to promote individuals with a high need for esteem. A raise in position and pay communicates an achieved status, and reinforces her ability to achieve corporate goals. Esteem needs lead into self-actualization. This need lies on the top of the hierarchical pyramid. Similar to fulfilling esteem needs, self- actualization can be met by giving an employee more responsibility, greater challenges, or more stimulating opportunities. Self-actualization is characterized by an individual having met all previous needs, and is now using his or her full potential and capabilities.
Maslow’s hierarchy is important for organizations to apply. Humans are motivated by particular needs according to their current life situations and future goals. Furthermore, individual needs are in accordance with cultural backgrounds such as race, religion, or country of origin. It must also be noted that individuals are not always striving to fulfill the same needs. The needs model must be applied on an individual basis. Managers who realize their needs are being fulfilled can be used as a resource for understanding their subordinates needs, and act accordingly. When an organization applies this model to a workforce there is an increase in job satisfaction and loyalty.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to control extreme changes in mood and emotions, and is a characteristic of an effective and competent leader. When a manager cannot control temporary emotions that are brought on by day to day interactions it can bring an entire organizations progress to a halt. Emotions are contagious and create a domino effect. Simply realizing when a certain emotion is present allows one to better handle temporary emotional fluctuations, while containing it as to not affect others. That being said, it is of utmost importance for a manager to possess a deep understanding of his or her own emotions (self-awareness), and how to deal with each. An individual who is self-aware is humble enough to accept constructive criticism and mature enough to address the areas of concern. The impact of hiring individuals with high emotional intelligence is high productivity and retention of high-quality employees.
Golnaz Sadri, PhD, defines E.I. as the ability to accurately perceive emotions, access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth, (Sadri, 2012.) The ability to accurately perceive emotions allows one to recognize facial and bodily gestures, and interpret their meaning. A manager who has this ability can intercept other’s cues, or tells, that signal irritability. This skill is recognized as constructive when dealing with scenarios such as a team who can’t come to an agreement, a irate client or customer, or when negotiating. For the most part, emotional intelligence is a learned skill, and an indicator of useful experience.
Manipulating strong personality traits and striving to improve negative personality traits can have a huge impact on a manager’s career, and more broadly can impact a corporation in tremendous ways. Today manager’s has access to information to help them maximize team productivity using psychology. Using psychological strategies to hire the right employees and build teams is the competitive edge companies need in this tough economic climate.
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