Leadership Traits - Agreeableness

Among the  leadership traits, agreeableness shows ambiguous results in research. Agreeableness can be perceived as either a strength or weakness depending on the situation.

Agreeableness is the personal warmth, cooperation, trust and acceptance of others. On the surface, that seems like a uniformly good thing, however, some circumstances call for an assertive and competitive approach that the agreeable leader may find difficult or uncomfortable.

Agreeableness: Positive Leadership Traits

Agreeableness is a positive trait when:

  • Consensus is important
  • Cohesive decentralized teams are part of the culture
  • Shared decision making is rewarded
  • The right team is in place

Agreeableness generally translates into likeability. In general, people probably work harder for someone they like. Liking makes the workday more pleasant and companionable. Liked leaders often draw helping behaviors from the employees that can increase productivity.

Agreeable leaders tend to seek and drive consensus within a team based culture. This can create a positive energy and sense of meaningful contribution in the workplace.

These positive aspects of agreeableness have a strong contribution to make toward an inclusive culture. When leveraged at the right time, agreeableness contributes to harmony in the workplace.

 Agreeableness: Negative Leadership Traits

Agreeableness can be a hindrance when:

  • Competition is the key to success
  • Vendors, client, competitors are aggressive
  • There is a difficult unpopular decison that must be made
  • Workers need corrective feedback and/or to be made available to industry

Agreeable leaders tend to avoid the disagreeable, such as corrective feedback. Agreeable leaders tend to tolerate bad behavior longer than is wise. When this happens, workers begin to lose respect for the leader as the bad behavior most likely has a negative impact on them. When employees begin to see the agreeable leader as a "doormat," teamwork erodes.

Agreeable leaders tend to avoid competition and sometimes fail to realize other people enjoy competition and see it in a positive light. People who thrive on achievement and competition may feel held back in a culture of consensus.

Leadership Tips

Use agreeableness and extraversion to build strong teams and strong relationships as a leader. Then in tough times when it's necessary to be directive to get the job done, personal loyalty already exists.

If agreeableness causes you stress when tough decisions need to be made, enlisting a trusted advisor can help with a path forward that will both address the situation and minimize the stress reaction.

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