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For decades psychology and sociology researchers have used the Five Factor Model (FFM, also called The Big 5) to study what dimensions of personality positively correlate with workplace success.

The Big 5 are (you can take a free Big 5 test here):Some people regard discipline as a

  • Openness (or intellect)
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extroversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism (or emotional stability)

Why Conscientiousness Often = Success

The two dimensions proven to have the strongest connection to success at work are conscientiousness and extroversion. In Monday’s blog, I will cover extroversion, so the focus for the moment falls squarely on the broad shoulders of conscientiousness.

Conscientiousness is the predisposition to be disciplined, organized, goal directed, thorough, efficient, deliberative, and able to delay gratification. In the office, these are the people who have spotless desks, are reliable, and get desired results. Over time, they gain the trust of both leaders and followers. This allows them to keep stretching the goals of teams or organizations to reach goals that would have initially seemed far fetched.

Conscientious leaders excel at juggling multiple projects and priorities. The best keep team members focused on shared goals. Given the rapid pace of change and high expectations, it makes sense that people who create value and trust through goal attainment are picked for promotions or remain in executive positions.

How To Develop Conscientiousness Behaviors

If your desk is a mess and you struggle at times with projects hitting your inbox in rapid succession, there are behaviors related to conscientiousness that you can adopt to increase your effectiveness.

Find and consistently use a system to stay organized. This can be a white board, checklists, sticky notes, electronic calendar, spreadsheets, color coded filing system, or whatever keeps your mind uncluttered and tracks progress

  1. Understand the goal
  2. Understand why the goal is important to the organization
  3. Explain numbers two and three with everyone who needs to know, repeat often
  4. Communicate expectations and progress regularly

By keeping you and your team in front of projects, you are much less likely to be derailed or run over by new projects or competing priorities.

Caveats

Without emotional intelligence, conscientiousness may not move the needle of personal or organizational performance. And, when work is artistic or social (such as sales), creativity and spontaneity are often called for rather than a by-the-book approach.

Still, for most of us, behaviors associated with conscientiousness will take you a long way toward reaching your goals.

Gregory Alford, MS. Psy., is founder of Accelerated Coaching & Consulting, LLC., and specializes in business, leadership and life coaching.

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