What is it that makes an individual a true leader? It isn’t a role that is assigned or even determined only by intelligence, but instead leadership is an amalgamation of some key personality traits and how others are influenced by the mix. When considering the Five Factor Model of Personality (Grice, 2019), each individual’s personality can be determined according to 5 spectrums: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness to experience, and extraversion. Leadership success has been known to correlate with high levels of openness and conscientiousness. Similarly, extraversion has proven to have strong predictive validity of leadership in a position following a job interview (Salgado, 1997).
Working in the wedding industry, I have found that strong leaders are what really makes an event successful. As both a wedding coordinator and venue coordinator, I have found that each piece of the wedding requires its own leader, whether for venue set-up, decorations, catering, and everything in between. It is necessary for each facet to have at least one individual prepared with all the details and to answer any questions that may arise, providing direction and executing the vision. What I have found are a few universal traits that are help by each team leader: responsibility of task execution towards a goal (a key part of conscientiousness), problem solving and critical thinking (or openness to novel ideas when things may go wrong), and extraversion with confidence and little self-doubt (Northouse, 2016). In short, wedding operations are definitely fueled by personal duties, creative thinking, and communication!
Conscientiousness, or self-discipline, is one of the most important factors in a leader, particularly under stressful situations when responsibility and reliability is pertinent. With a conscientious leader, individual tasks are delegated and completed, consequences of decisions are directed towards one entity, and in-group social issues are given a directed option for a solution. Being a reliable individual is also closely related to intelligence on the matter at hand. While there may be many other forms of intelligence that the individual may lack, knowledge about the relevant situation is key. With florists, caterers, and venues working a wide variety of events, I am often the information hub about the wedding itself as the coordinator. Through verifying each detail and keeping the overall vision in mind, I realize that it is my responsibility to make sure everything is executed to perfection even when team members may not have the same goal in mind.
Openness to experience is important with team leading as the situation is constantly evolving. When a problem arises and someone forgets to bring zip ties to secure the flowers on the ceremony arch, there needs to be someone to make the executive decision to ask the kitchen for some cooking twine instead. Even with packing lists detailing every last bit of supplies, more often than not something gets left behind. With the most minuscule of problems, creative thinking and trying new methods can get any team out of a pinch. This flexibility helps diffuse frustration and exhibits how creative, curious, and resourceful a leader must be when the unexpected occurs. As the third most important Big Five Personality Factor in terms of leadership (Northouse, 2016), individuals scoring high on openness to experience are the open-minded and imaginative leaders that enthusiastically absorb information and are quick to problem-solve.
Extraversion is known to be the most necessary personality trait for a team leader to have. More specifically, it is the individual’s self-confidence, decisiveness, and driven nature that greatly influences each member of the group. As many have said, “confidence is contagious.” So is self-doubt. If a leader does not have a strong belief in themselves, the group will also doubt themselves and the team. Decision making mixed with confidence creates many solutions and provides direction for group members with lower self-confidence that they are working in the right direction. When staff is helping to decorate a venue, they often doubt themselves if they are doing it correctly and if it represents the wedding vision. With a leader reassuring the staff that yes, they are doing something right, more tasks get completed in a timely fashion. Without the reassurance, a specific table may be decorated and redecorated multiple times before the next table is even set. Extraversion helps the team leader influence the group even with basic social interactions as it tells the team, “We are doing it right. Keep going.”
There are many personality traits that are evident in every strong leader. High levels of conscientiousness, openness to experience, and extraversion are among the most prominent Big Five Personality Traits that makes a leader a truly effective one. Whether leading a small part or the whole picture, each of these three facets of personality can make an individual stand out among the rest and guide the group towards a singular goal.
Grice, J. W. (2019, January 04). Five-factor model of personality. Retrieved May 15, 2019, from https://www.britannica.com/science/five-factor-model-of-personality
Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
Salgado, J. F. (1997). The five-factor model of personality and job performance in the European community. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82(1),30-43