The impact of personality on self-development

Impact of personality in a team

Logic would tell you that if you were open-minded, up for a challenge, and the type who always wants to believe they’re moving forward in life, you’d be a good candidate for growth through self-improvement.

Conversely, would you imagine that if someone scrutinises and overthinks situations and is hesitant about stepping out of their comfort zone, their personal growth may stagnate?

How much do our personalities really impact our self-development?

The interplay between individual personality traits and professional progression can offer insightful perspectives on nurturing talent, fostering innovation, and maintaining competitive advantage.

Personality encompasses the unique set of emotional, attitudinal, and behavioural responses that characterise an individual. Traits such as openness to experiences, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism (often referred to as the Big Five personality traits) significantly influence how individuals perceive challenges, manage stress, and interact with their environment. Depending on how they manifest in the workplace, these traits can either facilitate or hinder personal growth and development.

For instance, open-minded individuals are usually more curious and inventive—these traits are invaluable in roles requiring innovation and creative problem-solving. Conversely, those with more of a closed mind might struggle in rapidly changing environments, which could potentially stifle their personal and professional development.

Introvert vs extrovert preferences in the workplaceExtroverts are typically more outgoing and energy-driven from external stimulation. They might find it exhilarating to embrace new challenges and social contexts. They tend to be energised by social interaction and external stimuli. They are often viewed as assertive, adventurous, and comfortable in the spotlight. These traits can provide advantages when pushing boundaries or putting yourself out there, which are often necessary steps for self-development. An extrovert may have an easier time networking, meeting mentors, taking public risks, and getting feedback from others—all of which feed into personal growth. However, if overdone, extroverts risk spreading themselves too thin, prioritising breadth over depth in their development, and basing their sense of self too much on external validation.

In contrast, introverts might perceive the same situations as daunting, which could discourage them from taking risks or pursuing opportunities for growth; consider that, if they never widen their networks or ‘put themselves out there’, how would opportunities to progress reach them? Introverts often prefer solitary or 1-2-1 activity and tend to be private, contemplative, and inwardly focused. Strengths like independence, concentration, and reflection tendencies lend themselves to successfully developing their skills and passions over time. However, introverts may struggle more with pushing beyond their comfort zones, collaborating with others, or projecting confidence outwardly. If overdone, they risk becoming too isolated, narrowly skilled, or intellectually arrogant.

Ambition, the desire for personal achievement, is another facet of personal growth influenced by personality. Highly ambitious individuals are often driven by goals and outcomes that push them forward. However, ambition alone is not sufficient for success; adaptability is equally important. The ability to adjust to new conditions, to be flexible in the face of change, and to learn from diverse experiences is crucial in today’s dynamic business environment.

Ultimately, personality exists on a spectrum. Many people shift between extroverted and introverted tendencies, which allows them to draw from the strengths of both. And people can learn to step outside the constraints their natural preferences might pose. For example, even the most extroverted people need solitary downtime every so often, whilst even the most introverted can practice being charismatic public speakers when they put in the effort. Personality provides inclination, but human beings have remarkable adaptability.

personal growth and self development strategies in teamsThe most successful self-development approaches play to the strengths of personality and behavioural preferences whilst developing complementary skills and strengths. Extroverts may deepen their inner lives through mindfulness, gratitude journalling, or establishing an introspective morning routine. Introverts may push their capabilities by teaching workshops, leading group discussions, or reaching out to mentors for advice. Building new skills to round out natural gifts is what enables growth.

Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset

The concept of a fixed versus growth mindset, popularised by psychologist Carol Dweck, provides a useful framework for understanding how individuals can transcend personality constraints. Those with a fixed mindset believe their abilities and traits are static (whether they’re introverts or extroverts), which can lead them to avoid challenges and limit their growth. Conversely, individuals with a growth mindset believe that their abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.

Personality is only one aspect within companies for their people to grow and develop. Any personality type—extroverted, introverted, or mixed (ambivert)—can support successful self-development. The key is self-awareness of preferences, the curbing of extremes, the nurturing of natural strengths, and purposefully navigating and shifting between behavioural preferences. Personality shapes but does not rigidly dictate personal growth capacity. With balanced effort, authenticity, and a willingness to be adaptable, we all have the ability, using the neuroplasticity of our brain, to develop learned behaviours to become the best versions of ourselves.

Leaders and managers can play a pivotal role in encouraging a growth mindset within their teams by fostering an environment where taking calculated risks is rewarded and failures are viewed as opportunities for learning. This approach can help mitigate the impact of less adaptive mindsets and behaviours on personal growth and encourage all employees to engage more fully in their development.

Leaders and managers must also recognise the diverse nature of ambition and adaptability across their teams. By understanding the unique personality and behavioural profiles of their employees, they can tailor development opportunities that align with individual strengths and growth areas. This personalised approach not only enhances personal growth but also contributes to a more dynamic and resilient organisation.

Strategies for self-development

Here are more strategies leaders could adopt:

  • Offer training and development opportunities. This could include sending employees to seminars, bringing in guest speakers, paying for online courses, or holding in-house training sessions. Covering the time and monetary costs shows an investment in your people.
  • Start a mentoring programme. Pair junior employees with more experienced internal mentors or external professional mentors. Meeting regularly empowers mentees to set development goals and receive guidance.
  • Provide funding for continued education. Offer tuition reimbursement or stipends for employees to take night, weekend, or online classes. Supporting degrees, certificates, workshops, etc. enables progress.
  • Hold self-reflection exercises. Build time for activities like values identification, SWOT analyses of skills/traits, or envisioning one’s ideal future self into staff meetings or retreats. Guiding introspection prompts growth.
  • Allow paid leave wherever possible. Whether it’s a few weeks or a few months, giving employees paid time to travel, pursue passions, volunteer, or just reflect replenishes their energy and perspectives.
  • Introduce learning agendas. Ask employees to come to performance reviews with proposals for the knowledge, abilities or experiences they want to build or develop during the upcoming year. Discuss how these align with company goals.
  • Recognise and reward progress. Praise employees publicly for completing training programmes, earning new certifications, mastering skills, etc. Celebrate their continuous learning.

The exact approach should align with your company’s culture and resources. But prioritising self-improvement demonstrates that employee growth and company growth go hand-in-hand.

Ultimately, the key to leveraging personality for personal growth lies in understanding and embracing the individual differences that each employee brings to the table, thereby creating a more inclusive, innovative, and resilient organisation.

Our Jigsaw Discovery Tool is an innovative exercise that is useful for all those who take part, whatever their position in the company and whatever their personality type. Understanding others as well as ourselves is hugely important for any team if it wishes to build on its strengths and turn its weaknesses into positives and/or learning opportunities. Call 01924 898930 for more information or visit hello@jigsawdiscoverytool.com.

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