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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Dec 16, 2022


This week we explore how agreeableness as a personality trait has a positive impact on work investment and teamwork.



Welcome to episode 167 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we bring research to life in your leadership. This week we explore how agreeableness as a personality trait has a positive impact on work investment and teamwork.

Since the 1950s, and particularly from the 1980’s, personality research has focused primarily on the big 5 personality traits - Openness-to-Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. Taken together these 5 traits account for the majority of differences in personality between individuals while also having predictive ability across a range of positive and negative outcomes in workplace settings. They provide our best understanding of personality across a range of settings and individuals.

A recent study focused on the agreeableness trait. As a personality trait this describes people who are cooperative, polite, friendly and kind. Agreeableness is associated with an interest in others and in building positive relationships. The study by Wilmot and Ones is of the most comprehensive analyses of agreeableness undertaken, bringing together 1.9 million participants across more than 3,900 research studies.

Their research highlighted a broad range of positive outcomes associated with agreeableness in a workplace context. 

The benefits for individuals and teams included:

  • Focus on growth and concern for others

  • Contentment with current circumstance

  • Investment in building and maintaining relationships with others

  • Team working including cooperating with others and working towards shared goals

  • Work investment and commitment

  • Tendency to place less emphasis on results, and being more lenient in rating others’ performance

  • Ability to adjust to new contexts

  • Greater likelihood of respecting social norms and rules

In summary, those with agreeableness as a personality trait are likely to invest more effort into their work, primarily in a corporative and team-building way.

Here are some tips for building agreeableness:

  1. Take a genuine interest in others. Empathy is a cornerstone of agreeableness. It’s easier to get along with people that we understand and can relate to.

  2. Invest time in building relationships. Agreeableness is often about quantity time. Relationships require investment.

  3. Consider shared goals, not just individual goals. Agreeableness is interested in collective outcomes and team wins.

  4. Maintain connections during moments of disagreement and conflict. Relationships are usually more important than winning an argument.

It’s also worth nothing that, as a leader, you can assess and select for agreeableness and other personality traits that may be important for work performance. This requires personality instruments that are specifically designed for a selection context, but is worth exploring if you want to build effective teams.



Wilmot, M. P., & Ones, D. S. (2022). Agreeableness and Its Consequences: A Quantitative Review of Meta-Analytic Findings. Personality and Social Psychology Review26(3), 242–280.