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  • Writer's pictureDr. Vera Alves

Personality Traits and Entrepreneurship-Have you considered these characteristics? Part 2

What traits and behaviors can contribute to higher chances of entrepreneurial success? According to extensive research, five characteristics account for 39% of the variance in leader effectiveness[1]. This blog post series invites you to reflect on the Big Five personality traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Entrepreneurs are essentially leaders of their ventures and can undoubtedly benefit from reflecting on these traits. In our previous post, we discussed Openness and Conscientiousness. In the final installment of this two-part series, we will look into Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.


Extraversion

We all have that one friend or family member - or several - who aren't exactly wallflowers in social interaction. Instead, they thrive on being the center of attention, enjoy meeting new people, and somehow tend to have the biggest friends and acquaintances group you have known. They are examples of people who score high in Extraversion.


Extraversion refers to an energetic approach toward the social and material world.[2] It includes traits such as sociability, activity, and assertiveness, sometimes referred to as Extroversion. People who score high in extraversion are sociable, energized by social interaction, enjoy being the center of attention, and are more outgoing.


The extreme opposite is the introvert. These individuals prefer solitude and have less energy in social situations. Being at the center of attention or making small talk can be challenging, and they are more reserved.


Extraversion and Entrepreneurs

There is not a strong correlation between extraversion and entrepreneurial tendencies. Some entrepreneurs can act effectively as leaders and excel in circumstances that need them to engage with others regularly. However, several famous entrepreneurs are introverts, such as Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, Warren Buffett, and even Elon Musk.[3] One important thing is to focus on your strengths and find additional support in areas that complement your personality and skills set.[4]


Some food for thought:

  • "Do you recharge your energy by being alone or by interacting with other groups of people?

  • "Do you have a clear understanding of whether you are more introvert or extrovert?"

  • "Are you clear about your strengths as an introvert or an extrovert?"

Agreeableness

Agreeableness is a personality trait related to how we treat relationships with others. Those high in Agreeableness will show signs of trust, selflessness, kindness, affection, empathy and are more inclined to help others. More agreeable individuals would be well suited for positions requiring strong interpersonal skills and the capacity to put others first.


Individuals low on Agreeableness tend to have a stronger and more competitive attitude, are more self-confident, and focused on their own goals. Some extreme cases will demonstrate socially undesirable behaviors, including manipulation, lack of caring, or interest in others.


Agreeableness and Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs tend to score lower in Agreeableness. These individuals are usually more competitive, self-centered, and know what they want. However, there are other entrepreneurs that are considerate, while simultaneously pursuing what they want. Regardless of whether you score low or high in agreeableness, being a successful as an entrepreneur often requires a tougher attitude.


Some food for thought:

  • "Is it important to voice opinions, even if they are controversial?"

  • "To which extent do you care about what others think about your ideas?"

  • "Do you consider yourself more competitive, or do you usually try to help everyone to win?"

Neuroticism

Neuroticism is the propensity to experience negative emotions.[1] Individuals who score high in this trait tend to see the world as distressing, threatening, and unsafe. They are more prone to mood swings, anxiety, and irritability. They also tend to overthink many situations and find difficulty relaxing even in their own space. On the other hand, those who score low in this dimension tend to be more emotionally stable and positively deal with stress. They are usually calm, even-tempered, and more in control of their emotional state.


Neuroticism and Entrepreneurs

In terms of Entrepreneurship and Neuroticism, research indicates that those who score higher in this trait tend to be more risk-averse and have less entrepreneurial intentions.[4] They also tend to be less flexible and to have difficulties dealing with frequent changes and stress. However, there is an upside as neurotic thought patterns have the potential to make you a better entrepreneur. Findings from a 2015 research study by King’s College in London suggests “people with neuroses may be more inclined to be creative geniuses. That’s because they’re more sensitive to perceived threats than most people.”[5] The researchers assert that a “panic button” in the emotional center in the brain, known as the amygdala, triggers a flight or fight response to perceived threats. That threat generator is linked to an active imagination - an essential characteristic for problem-solving.[5]


Individuals who score high in neuroticism obsess over the same problem for extended periods. Their active imaginations allow them to generate a range of unconventional answers, which is crucial for entrepreneurs.[6]


Some food for thought:

  • "Do you tend to overthink things regularly?"

  • "How do you navigate stressful situations?"

You can find out more about your score in the five personality traits by accessing this link: The Big Five Project - Personality Test (outofservice.com).


We hope that these two blog posts have contributed to your reflections as an entrepreneur, especially in terms of your self-awareness journey. Want to share some of your insights? Leave a comment below or send us an email at info@leaderessentialsgroup.com.


Vera Alves is the Chief Consulting Officer at Leader Essentials Group, with extensive experience in leadership development and business management. With over 12 years of experience as a C-suite executive, Vera is highly skilled in leadership, strategic planning, operations management, organizational behavior, and change management. In addition, she possesses highly developed communication, training, and linguistic skills reflective of a very strong and charismatic leadership style.

_________________________________________________________________________ [1] Judge, T. A., Bono, J. E., Ilies, R., & Gerhardt, M. W. (2002). Personality and leadership: a qualitative and quantitative review. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87(4), 765-780. [2] Pekkala Kerr, S., Kerr, W., & Xu, T. (2017). Personality traits of entrepreneurs: A review of recent literature. Retrieved from KKX-Personality-Review_RIS_5ea5da25-c8ab-41d2-90ee-e30b3d5b071c.pdf (hbs.edu) 07/05/2021. [3] Castrillon, C. (2019). How introverts can thrive as entrepreneurs. Forbes. Retrieved from How Introverts Can Thrive As Entrepreneurs (forbes.com) 07/05/2021. [4] Ahmed, M. A., Khattak, M. S., & Anwar, M. (2020). Personality traits and entrepreneurial intention: The mediating role of risk aversion. Journal of Public Affairs, e2275. [5] Close, K. (2015). Your Neuroses Can Make You a Great Entrepreneur (Just Ask Steve Jobs). Inc.com. https://www.inc.com/your-neuroses-could-make-you-a-great-entrepreneur.html. [6] Entis, L. (2015, August 27). Why Your Neuroticism May Be the Key to Your Creativity. Entrepreneur. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/250016.

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