5 traits to help you move forwards in your career.

In a Guardian article last month: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/jul/22/five-secrets-of-worlds-top-ceos, Adam Bryant (deputy national editor of the New York Times and author of “The corner office: How top CEOs Made it and how you can too”) outlined 5 traits possessed by many of the chief executives he interviewed for his book. The chief executives also seemed to prefer candidates possessing these traits when deciding who to promote in their company or who to recruit to senior positions.

Rather than being personality traits present at birth, Adam Byrant argued that the five traits could be developed.

As a student or graduate, developing these traits could help you stand out from the huge pool of graduates with similar qualifications and experience and help you move forwards once you’re in work.

Notice too that these traits aren’t sector-specific. They’re more about your mindset and attitude than the job you do. Thinking about how you approach part-time or voluntary work and perhaps changing how you do things could be useful here:

Passionate curiosity:

This one probably is an alternative phrase for ‘commercial awareness’, it’s about understanding how organisations function; an interest in people helps CEOs (and other staff) get the best out of employees, openness to opportunities and reflecting on what works and what doesn’t helps to improve performance: think about your part-time job here – are you passionately curious about how the organisation functions and the way the staff work together?

Battle-hardened confidence:

According to Adam, this is the reason senior managers ask candidates how they coped when something didn’t go to plan. It’s about proactive problem-solving and perseverance rather than blaming others.

Being a real team player:

This is about really understanding how teams work and how to get the most out of them – identifying the roles people play in teams, choosing the right people when creating a team and getting team members to work well together. Think about any group presentations or projects here – how could you get the team to work well together?

A simple mindset:

Being concise in your communication – short presentations, getting an idea across in as few words as possible, creating a report which covers the key points. Think about your academic work here, do you waffle, or do you have a concise style when you write? What about your presentations and reports?


This is about trying new things and taking on new challenges – informed and calculated risk-taking. Putting yourself forward for a new project, taking on a challenging volunteering role and new responsibilities in your part-time job are all good examples of this.


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