Leader's individual differences and how they impact

Leader’s individual differences and how they impact

Special report: Leader differences and their impact on leadership outcomes

The Oxford Review has just published a new special report looking at the individual differences between leaders and the impact of those differences on leadership outcomes.

Keywords: leader, leadership, leadership development, individual differences, leadership capacities


Special report

The special report / research briefing is a briefing of newly published  integrative review of research by a team of researchers that looked at all of the studies over the last 20 years to see what patterns and threads come out of the research on individual differences between leaders. Due to its nature, this is a somewhat large, complex and involved study. There are a series of useful and interesting findings.​


Why look at individual differences?

The main point of looking at the individual differences between leaders is quite simply that all leaders are individuals and, as a result, differ from each other in many ways. The question is, how do these differences impact their outcomes as a leader?

The vast majority of leader research is focused on categorising leadership behaviours, personality or other attributes into groupings or styles. So, whilst any particular leader may adopt a certain style of leadership, this does not mean that all leaders within that style are going to act and behave the same or make the same decisions and judgements.

It is, therefore, important to understand how individual differences between leaders create different:

  • perceptions
  • thinking
  • judgements
  • behaviours
  • attitudes
  • values
  • beliefs and
  • outcomes.

Further, some differences between leaders will have little or no impact on leadership outcomes and others will have a dramatic and significant impact on their outcome as a leader. Understanding which differences make a difference is both useful and valuable.


65 researched differences between leaders

Previous research has identified 65 differences between leaders that have an impact on leadership outcomes. These include:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Divergent/Creative Thinking
  3. Insight
  4. Wisdom
  5. Complex Problem Solving Skills
  6. Cognitive Complexity
  7. Cognitive Flexibility
  8. Metacognitive Skills
  9. Judgment/Decision Making Skills
  10. Organizing and Administrative Skills
  11. Ability to Learn
  12. Self-regulation Skills
  13. Strategic Thinking
  14. Social Intelligence or social Sensitivity
  15. Self-Monitoring Skills
  16. Behavioural Flexibility
  17. Emotional Regulation Skills
  18. Ability to Handle People
  19. Interpersonal Skills
  20. Communication Skills
  21. Persuasion Skills
  22. Political Skills
  23. Extraversion
  24. Conscientiousness
  25. Openness
  26. Agreeableness (9) Neuroticism/Emotional Stability
  27. Optimism
  28. Adaptability
  29. Flexibility
  30. Charisma
  31. Positive/Negative Affectivity
  32. Narcissism
  33. Psychopathy
  34. Stress Tolerance/Resilience
  35. Dominance
  36. Power
  37. Achievement
  38. Affiliation
  39. Motivation to Lead
  40. Drive/Purpose
  41. Energy
  42. Ambition
  43. Tenacity/Persistence
  44. Proactivity/Initiative
  45. Locus of Control
  46. Self-Confidence/Self-efficacy
  47. Knowledge of Situation (Tacit knowledge)
  48. Knowledge of the Business
  49. Experience
  50. Tenure
  51. Education Level 
  52. Masculinity-Femininity
  53. Machiavellianism
  54. Authoritarianism
  55. Nurturance
  56. Conservatism
  57. Honesty/Integrity
  58. Originality/Creativity
  59. Humility/Modesty
  60. Courage
  61. Gender
  62. Age
  63. Height
  64. Appearance
  65. Genetics

Find out how these differences between leaders have an impact on leadership outcomes and what it means for leadership and leadership development in straightforward english (no academic jargon).

Get this 17 page special report

The special report details the primary findings of the reviews and shows you how to use them.

This special report is especially useful for leaders and those involved leadership development / training and coaching. 

Members: login to download this and every other research briefing as part of your membership (you can join here):

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David Wilkinson

David Wilkinson is the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Review. He is also acknowledged to be one of the world's leading experts in dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty and developing emotional resilience. David teaches and conducts research at a number of universities including the University of Oxford, Medical Sciences Division, Cardiff University, Oxford Brookes University School of Business and many more. He has worked with many organisations as a consultant and executive coach including Schroders, where he coaches and runs their leadership and management programmes, Royal Mail, Aimia, Hyundai, The RAF, The Pentagon, the governments of the UK, US, Saudi, Oman and the Yemen for example. In 2010 he developed the world's first and only model and programme for developing emotional resilience across entire populations and organisations which has since become known as the Fear to Flow model which is the subject of his next book. In 2012 he drove a 1973 VW across six countries in Southern Africa whilst collecting money for charity and conducting on the ground charity work including developing emotional literature in children and orphans in Africa and a number of other activities. He is the author of The Ambiguity Advanatage: What great leaders are great at, published by Palgrave Macmillian. See more: About: About David Wikipedia: David's Wikipedia Page