Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 58

retaliate when treated unfairly and believe that people are generally good. People low in agreeableness tend to be more antagonistic, guarded, and cynical. Neuroticism relates to one’s tolerance to stress. It includes anxiety, self-consciousness, and depression. People high in neuroticism become tense under pressure, easily discouraged, and worry a lot. People low in neuroticism are calm, hopeful, and less likely to be rattled. Some psychologists use the expression emotional stability instead of neuroticism to avoid confusion with Sigmund Freud’s concept of neurosis. While the Big Five can provide valuable insights for self-awareness, they also constitute a robust vehicle for leader development based on extensive studies examining the consequences and implications of personality. Here is a sampling of the research findings revealed in the Big Five literature: Studies using military samples show that successful leaders tend to exhibit low neuroticism, high extraversion, and high conscientiousness.9 Openness is a significant predictor of strategic thinking capability in senior leaders.10 Interestingly, students at the Army War College tend to score lower in openness than the general U.S. population. Those • students selected for brigade command score even lower than the overall Army War College average.11 A high score in neuroticism tends to negate the positive effects of all other traits on psychological resiliency.12 Studies found that people with high extraversion tend to be noticed and assert themselves, making them highly likely to emerge as a leader.13 Some studies report that agreeable people, when placed in leadership positions, are more effective leaders, possibly through their emphasis on creating a fair environment.14 Teams with no members who are low in conscientiousness report less conflict, better communication, and more workload sharing. A team will actively support a team member who is low in intelligence, but will tend to ignore a low conscientiousness member.15 • • • • The Army and the Big Five With a formidable research foundation behind it, the Big Five offers potentially significant benefits for leader development in the Army. To establish a baseline of self-awareness, Big Five assessments could be integrated into the leadership curriculum in the Advanced Leader Course for noncommissioned officers or the Basic Officer Leadership Course for the officer corps. Because as much as 50 percent of a person’s personality could be inherited and personalities are extremely difficult to change once reaching adulthood, a Big Five self-assessment would emphasize identifying those aspects of leaders’ personalities that they should accentuate (or overcome) to develop into more effective leaders in the future.16 Increasing self-awareness, not attempting personality change, should be the focus. Additionally, it is probably prudent to restrict the use of the Big Five to self-awareness (Photo by Sgt. James Avery, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment) as opposed to screening or selecSoldiers assigned to Team Eagle, Task Force 2-7 Infantry, consult the technical tion since it is possible for a person manual for their M1126 Stryker infantry carrier vehicle while performing preventive maintenance checks and services after a nearly 130-kilometer convoy to manipulate the factor scores from Rukla to Pabrade, Lithuania, 1 May 2015. There is a robust link between a through disingenuous responses to leader’s personality and leader effectiveness, especially in fast-paced, demanding situations. questions in the instrument. • 56 March-April 2016  MILITARY REVIEW