The "Leadership Personality"

Don't be a Dodo

During a workshop the other night I was asked what personality type I encountered most frequently in my work with leaders as an executive coach. After reflecting for a moment, I responded that while I've worked with many good leaders of each type, I seem to end up with working most frequently with Eights, Nines, and Threes. There was some surprise to this, and people started saying things like, "Really? I thought there would be more _____s." I was quick to point out that there is no ideal leadership personality and that were many reasons why I may have encountered this distribution, including pure chance or the fact that most of my work comes from word of mouth and people are inclined to take suggestions from people who are like them. 

The truth is, I don't think that any personality style is necessarily better suited to leadership than others, and that there is no ideal personality profile for a leader. Leadership success has many factors, and personality is only a part of the picture. I've seen extreme introverts who were successful and extreme extroverts who were effective leaders; I've seen very charismatic leaders succeed and fail, and leaders with no charisma at all succeed and fail.  I've also seen leaders who were highly effective in one set of circumstances fail miserably in another.