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What 2 Key Personality Traits Help Leaders Manage Change?


Europeans have been studying what personality traits help business people manage change and generate higher profits.  Essentially they asked ‘what personality traits make a good manager?’.  Last year Professor Jan Ketil Arnulf at the BI Norwegian Business School published his findings on the subject after following 60 corporate managers over 3 years.*

It turns out almost all strongly held personality traits actually inhibit people from being able to work successCartoon that reads "What if we don't change at all....and something magical happens?fully with change.

The list of traits includes:

    • Warmth,
    • Dominance,
    • Openness to change,
    • Self-reliance,
    • Sensitivity,
    • Perfectionism, (and others)

The professor’s results show that “teams with markedly strong personality traits were more inflexible than teams with less strong traits”, and therefore had less ability to adapt to change.

He reports, “This became a significant problem for the management teams during the three-year period. Major changes in the market necessitated changes in order to succeed.”.

Within a Skillful Means framework, strongly held traits may indicate an imbalance within individuals which becomes a liability to organizations as individuals struggle to manage change.

Indeed, the study found the stronger the personality trait, the stronger the tendency to act on personal preferences and not adapt to the situation at hand.

What actually helps people adapt to change in business and succeed?

Professor Arnulf found the two qualities that helped individuals manage change were

1) intelligence (the ability to learn and problem solve) and

2) ‘stress robustness’, that is, the ability not to be de-railed by stress.

Intelligence alone was not enough. Further he found managers with both of these qualities achieved better profitability for their companies and businesses than individuals in whom these traits were relatively weak.

Wow, that is quite a finding.  My experience working with Skillful Means training over the last 8 years has taught me that both intelligence (the ability to solve problems) and stress robustness can be learned.

A day long Skillful Means training helps teams and organizations beef up problem solving/stress busting skills to create a better internal culture where both self-care and profitability come naturally.   Managers learn these qualities skills directly – first in theory but quickly in practice, as they are inherent in the material presented and exercises suggested for managers to integrate into their daily work.

Go here to learn how other organizations have used Skillful Means methods to learn to work effectively with change.

Wondering how you might begin?  I have 3 suggestions.

1. Go here to learn some very quick techniques to begin to dissolve stress now.  Then you can see more clearly what is going on and how best to respond.

2. I have developed a special one day training.  Let’s talk to see how this training might benefit your organization.  Click here to learn more about how these trainings work and to set up a complimentary phone call.

If you are solo-preneur, keep your eyes out for a local training in North Carolina this summer.   If you will be in Asheville July 28th join us for a workshop to transform stress and re-direct that energy into building a thriving business.  Click here to learn more and register for the Asheville workshop.

3. Skillful Means books can also be an excellent resource for you as develop skills in problem solving and dissolving stress to support your ability to manage change and make your organization more financially sustainable.

Please continue the conversation below!


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