Big Five Theory of Leadership

The Big Five personality factors are conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness, and extraversion. Some researchers have labeled the CANOE personality model as an easy aid to remembering each factor.

  • Conscientiousness is defined as an individual’s tendency to be organized, thorough, controlled, decisive, and dependable. Of the Big Five factors, it is the personality factor that has been related to leadership second most strongly (after extraversion) in other researches.
  • Agreeableness, or an individual’s tendency to be trusting, nurturing, conforming, and accepting, has been only weakly associated with leadership.
  • Neuroticism, or the tendency to be anxious, hostile, depressed, vulnerable, and insecure, has been moderately and negatively related to leadership, suggesting that most leaders tend to be low in neuroticism.
  • Openness, sometimes referred to as openness to experience, refers to an individual’s tendency to be curious, creative, insightful, and informed. Openness has been moderately related to leadership, suggesting that leaders tend to be somewhat higher in openness than non-leaders.
  • Finally, extraversion is the personality factor that has been most strongly associated with leadership. Defined as the tendency to be sociable, assertive, and have positive energy, extraversion has been described as the most important personality trait of effective leaders.

Researches on the Big Five personality factors have found some relationships between these overall personality factors and leadership.

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