U04 Blog – Are you being sized up?

Have you ever noticed that a lot of leaders tend to be on the taller side? Did you ever stop to think that maybe that had something to do with them becoming a leader? Funny to think, but you may not be far off. PSY 533 (2017) states, there is a correlation between height and leadership ability…it is mostly false but exists because of how people treat others with individual differences in height. So do these individual differences make or break a leader – or does it come down to what is inside the person? Being aware of what you are on the outside and what you have to offer on the inside are just two considerations when being a leader. Let’s take a deeper dive.

Individual differences are described in PSY 533 (2017) as, the particular aspects of people that make them different from other people. According to PSY 533 (2017) these can be summed up into 4 categories that relate to ethics and leadership: motivation, intelligence, biodata and personality. Did you ever wonder how some people go to work every day and don’t see to have a care in the world when they get their performance review at the end of the year? They just LOVE what they do! Other people, myself included, have a little different motivation for being at work – it’s all about the pay out for me and seeing how far ahead I can get! As stated by PSY 533 (2017), people are motivated by different factors at different points in their life. Maybe one day I will get to the point where I do my job for the love of it, but that truly would be a different point in my life!

Don’t get me wrong – I would expect a leader to be intelligent. After all, they are leaders. They set by example. There actually different ways someone can be intelligent. For simplicity purposes we will stick to the most commonly known one, IQ. Per PSY 533 (2017), g or g factor is more commonly referred to as IQ, this type of intelligence is primarily determined by genetics. So you mean to tell me all this time I have spent in school only to be predisposed to a set level of intelligence? Not quite. According to PSY 533 (2017), a childhood with good education characterized by reading programs and other valuable learning experience develops one’s intelligence to help it move towards its full potential. Ah, see now that makes more sense. I obviously haven’t met my full potential just yet – hence the constant desire to take more classes and learn more!

Then comes biodata. According to PSY 533 (2017), biodata is determined by one’s genetics (sex, race, hair color, height etc.) and biology does influence one’s personal psychology. Now the last thing I would want to hear is that I am being judged for my height AND my biodata! Sadly, according to PSY 533 (2017), if someone is from a minority race in a given culture there is evidence that the person will be treated less of a leader and therefore given less opportunity to lead.

Wow. That is a lot to contend with and the sad thing is no one is even getting to know my personality or what is on the inside! I feel as though I would just be judged for scientific things I am made up of – but not who I truly am and how I could come to be a leader. Queue – Personality.

The five factor model of personality is the most widely accepted science of personality that exists (Cost and McCrae, 1992). The model consists of: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness and extroversion.

According to Northouse (2001), conscientiousness is the tendency for a person to be thoughtful, organized and dependable. For me, this is a lot of what I look for in any partnership I have. Whether it be with a friend, a spouse or a work partnership. I don’t care how tall someone is or how smart they are, but for me this is more important that I can depend on them – especially in the workplace. Northouse (2001) states that, agreeableness is the tendency for someone to be accepting and trusting of others. I would want a leader to have trust in me and accept me for all the things I have to bring to the table. Neuroticism is the tendency of the person to be anxious, insecure, and potentially hostile (Northouse, 2001). As negative as this may come across, according to PSY 533 (2017), neuroticism is not always a bad thing, neurotic behaviors can be helpful in certain situations such as threat or crisis situations. Well, when it is put that way – I would certainly want someone on my team that is going to be looking out for me and the best interest of us! Openness to experience is the tendency of the person to be creative, curious, and informed about the ways of life (Northouse, 2015). I sum this up to being innovative and willing to take risks. You never know unless you try and that is how many new inventions or findings have been made – with people being curious! Lastly we have extraversion. According to PSY 533 (2017), extroversion is the trait most highly correlated with leadership. Extroversion is the tendency to be social and assertive in nature (Northouse, 2015).

I think that all in all, the personality aspects of leadership are more closely relatable than individual differences. Personality has so many levels to it – so many things that can be learned and are less static than understanding biology and family data. Sadly, in some cases the scientific research and data doesn’t lie and there are external things that we cannot change about how we look or how tall we are. Technically we are sized up before we are even given the chance to be a leader. But I feel the more we educate ourselves about what it means to be a leader and the multiple facets that go into it – the more likely we are to succeed. In my opinion, being aware of what you are on the outside and what you have to offer on the inside are just two considerations when being a leader


Costa, P. T. , & McCrea, R. R. (1992). Revised NEO personality inventory: NEO PI and NEO five-factor inventory (NEO FFI professional manual). Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

Northouse, P. (2001). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks, CA : SAGE

PSY 533 (2017). L08 Individual differences. Retrieved from: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1868786/pages/l08-overview?module_item_id=23063444

PSY 533. (2017). L09: Personality. Retrieved from: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1868786/pages/l09-five-factor-model-of-personality?module_item_id=23063461


  1. John C Santora October 29, 2017 at 10:34 PM #

    Hey Alana,
    Loved your blog post. The title grabbed my attention as well as the first sentence! Why? Well, because I’m a male business executive and I am 5’7″! I can tell you that from a young age, I knew being short as a guy was going to have its challenges. I found that individual differences, particularly appearance, were the first criteria people would use to size you up. Putting up with short jokes and assumptions about your abilities (I wasn’t usually the first guy picked for basketball teams in gym class) does have an affect on your motivation and personality, particularly when you are young. Some are motivated more to prove others wrong while some succumb to the negativity that comes with the torment and doubt. Some will have a chip on their shoulder. Others may become depressed and smug. It took me awhile, but I decided to develop a positive outlook and utilize my strengths. Fortunately, I had a good friend base and had excellent experiences in high school and college. I am conscientious and open, and definitely extraverted. These traits, along with tremendous support and opportunity, have allowed me to develop and grow into leadership roles. It is amazing how impactful individual differences, personality, motivation, intelligence, and biodata can be. My hope is that individuals who will face adversity in any of these areas have a support structure that helps them focus on their positive traits, find areas they excel in intellectually, and find the motivation to create the success they desire. Your post really hit home and I hope that others who read it can identify with the areas that are and will be impactful for them. Thank you!


  2. Heather Porter October 29, 2017 at 10:21 PM #

    Hello Alana,

    This is a very well written blog. I don’t think anyone could have summed up our lesson better than what you have just now. Personality and traits is one of the most interesting subjects to research. I love to learn why people behave they do. Personality “refers to an individual’s traits — or predispositions to behave in a particular way across situations” (Levy, 2013, p. 141). Traits are “people’s characteristic behaviors and conscious motives” (Myers, 2013, p. 574). My favorite part about this weeks lesson was learning about the five factors of personalities. As I was reading through the five factors I was thinking of people I work with and putting them into the one of the five buckets. It is very interesting to me to learn how people behave. It is even more interesting to learn why people do what they do because of their traits.

    Thank you for sharing.

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