The famous Big Five characters – and how to make the most of them
Progressive digitalization and a general change in values towards greater diversity, self-realization of the individual and general participation in design processes are rapidly changing society – and thus also the way people can and want to work today. The relatively new world of work 4.0 also demands clear change, leadership or leadership 4.0 from companies at the personnel level. But how do you become the optimal Leader 4.0, win and retain attractive employees and benefit from the opportunities of digital transformation? In addition to technology and innovative strategies, the willingness to adapt one’s own personality to the changed challenges is essential for this: In other words, to consciously strengthen characteristics that make it easier for managers and those responsible to establish their leadership qualities 4.0.
The Big Five: the basis for understanding personality
Through numerous confirmatory studies, the five-factor model has developed into a universal standard model of personality research. The so-called Big Five use five basic dimensions to describe the general attitudes of our personality, which define the basic temperament and essence, i.e. the character of a person. Because in every human being the Big Five are designed from the ground up – only their completely different interaction and their different degrees of strength or weakness create what psychology understands by individual personality. Briefly introduced, the Big Five:
- Neuroticism, the need for stability – the degree to which we react to setbacks: “How anxious, insecure, shy am I?”
- Extraversion – the degree to which we react to stimuli from outside: “How do I seek stimuli inside and outside?
- Openness to experience – the measure of the extent to which we actively seek new ideas and experiences: How curious and experimental am I?”
- Compatibility – the measure of the extent to which we have interests of our own over those of others: “How well can I build relationships with other people?
- Conscientiousness – the measure of the extent to which we work in an organized and result-oriented manner: “How organized, careful, reliable, planning, effective and accurate do I work?
How to make optimum use of the Big Five for the 4.0 leadership
Modern leaders enable their employees to participate in decisions, give them the freedom to take responsibility for themselves and rely on organised cooperation instead of division of labour from top to bottom. Not all Big Fives are equally conducive to this – but those who are open and willing to reflect on and further develop themselves as managers can strengthen or even reduce them accordingly:
Reducing the need for stability
Pronounced neuroticism stands in the way of manager 4.0 because it prevents them from withstanding contradictions. In a modern working world, however, surprises must always be expected: For example, new technology suddenly becomes important – and may fail at times. Or a jointly developed strategy is no longer optimal after a short time. Dealing with such setbacks without fear of a new start is indispensable in the rapidly changing age of digitalization. The same applies to keeping employees on course and motivating them despite frustration. It is important not to transfer your own doubts and uncertainties to them, but rather to turn the team members into joint new designers.
Strengthen curiosity and seek inspiration
A high degree of extraversion, i.e. the ability to find new ideas, supports managers 4.0 in constantly developing new solutions and strategies. A Leader 4.0 should also be a networker and seek and use external input. He keeps up to date with technical and organisational trends – and inspires: He is willing to learn from the achievements of others and to use good ideas for the goals of his team, no matter where they come from.
Developing your own openness
Leadership 4.0 requires above all openness: On the one hand, of course, as open-mindedness to react to the changed needs and challenges of industry 4.0. On the other hand, the positive will to make the own work environment in process, communication and management processes the optimal working environment 4.0 for employees is required. To do this, leaders must be able to let go of 4.0: The own power in favour of a target-oriented team-building, old paths in favour of more innovative ways and last but not least control in favour of trust. To do this, you have to be courageous when making decisions and sometimes take unusual, creative paths, the word “think out of the box”. The principle applies especially to processes that are to be optimized as quickly as possible: Doing things first and learning at the same time – together with all employees in the team.
Improving the ability to relate
The fourth Big Five “Compatibility” is decisive in determining how well we can build relationships and put the interests of others above our own. The latter is essential for team success. Equally important for a successful Leadership 4.0 is an appreciative and trustful working relationship: Not only the Leader 4.0 trusts his team, but also the employees trust in his abilities and in being able to contact him in case of problems at any time. The more compatible a responsible person is, the more competent and reliable he can be in technical and emotional matters, recognize potentials and promote talents. A balanced, good relationship with the team is also a prerequisite for communication at eye level, honest and supportive feedback and an open error culture.
Reduce conscientiousness calmly
What sounds quite illogical at first often pays off in the Management 4.0: to be able to let go of my conscientiousness for a change. Rigid result-orientation slows down creativity – which can create the framework to try out more and at the same time calmly take mistakes and failures into account. Too much perfectionism, on the other hand, often deprives projects of time and decisive dynamism. A good Leader 4.0 therefore prefers efficiency and pragmatism. For example, does a certain type of meeting always have to be adhered to or is little decided and no one really says what they think? Then Leadership 4.0 does not stick to it conscientiously, but looks creatively for a better organization for communication and finding results.
How to train the Big Five individually
Action is needed at the latest when the leader notices that the type of team leadership is no longer fruitful, employees quit and the proven concept no longer works. But, of course, nobody can change his personality just like that and overnight – but according to the requirements, he can constantly optimize it a little bit.
Reflection: the value check
Digital and social changes in the world of work 4.0 also require a change in values at management level. To do this, you first have to know your own values: What values do I have and how do they influence me as a leader? This form of mindfulness can be learned and effectively used with guided mindfulness training. It makes sense to prioritize its ten most important values and compare them with those of the employees and the company. Ask yourself, for example: What value does power have to me? They should then continuously question the value, because today, for example, it is no longer “trust is good, control is better” – but “control is sometimes good, trust is always better”.
Making the mindset mobile
Of course, every human being is also a creature of habit. But the more flexible managers are in their thinking and acting, the better they can react to changing requirements. And the easier they can develop new solutions. Establish new attitudes on familiar topics by gathering diverse information. Reflect your knowledge constantly – and update it regularly. When thoughts become more agile, action follows. In order to create agile ways of thinking and working structures, appropriate workshops can help, which can also be designed for entire departments or teams.
Writing instead of just thinking
It is worthwhile to explore your own feelings, needs and wishes in writing. Because thoughts alone are fleeting and often quickly forgotten. For example, if you write down in the morning and evening how your thinking changed on that day and what triggered it, you automatically focus your attention on that aspect.
Get feedback yourself
For most managers, it goes without saying that they evaluate others in terms of working methods and performance. But how open are you yourself to being judged by others? That’s valuable. Because only through honest and constructive feedback can you not only assess your effect on others, but also reliably understand it – and also your perceptible strengths and weaknesses. In individual coaching for managers, not only giving but also receiving feedback can be practiced on a lasting basis.