Success Often Rests on Personality Rather Than Intellect



Success Often Rests on Personality Rather Than Intellect

By Vanessa Richardson

     Many of us are not gifted with a genius IQ, extreme athleticism, artistic ability or even a heightened sense of self-confidence. We all wonder if we have what it takes to be successful in life. However, the fact that we have this curiosity in the first place leads us to the place where we develop those characteristics that have been proven to take us where we aspire to go. 

New and widely tested research suggests that IQ has hardly anything to do with success, as previously thought, noting that it is understoodsuccess isn’t always necessarily tied to money.  Money is simply one measurable outcome of the word. What characteristics seem to be more impactful? Conscientiousness, curiosity, perseverance, resilience, and grit. 

In the article ’10 Ways to Spot a Truly Exceptional Employee’ by Travis Bradberry,, he sites that a study in which more than 500 business leaders were asked what specifically sets great employees apart, the leader chose personality as their leading reason; 78% of these leaders said personality will make an exceptional employee, more than cultural fit (53%) and even the skill set (39%), noting that the last two can often times be learned. 

Bradberry describes the qualities many of us call as “personality” in this study to actually be emotional intelligence. Among the ten he describes, a few are which are notable include

  • A willingness to delay gratification
  • Highly tolerant of conflict
  • Judiciously courageous
  • Accountability
  • The ability neutralize toxic people

The good news for those interested in self-improvement or for those parents reading this who just became slightly panicked is – while IQ is largely fixed by the age of 6, emotional intelligence and personality are more malleable.  Researchers emphatically attest that grit can be taught.  They argue that current personality traits are not our fate.  We do ourselves a disservice when we see our personality or those of our children as fixed and inflexible.  Science suggests quite the opposite, our character and behavior can be drastically altered by new circumstances, insights, passions, and yes our own desperations. 

The better question to ask ourselves is do we have the character to succeed rather than do we have the brains.  And if the answer is yes then there is comfort in knowing that not only can we improve on that character but we have the opportunity now. 

Integrated People Solutions is an executive placement firm in Denver, Colorado, and is part of the Kennedy Executive Network


About Kennedy Executive

Kennedy Executive Search & Consulting is a global partner network of retained search boutiques in Europe and North America  with offices in Amsterdam, Budapest, Copenhagen, Denver, Frankfurt, Milan, Monaco, Paris, Prague, and Salzburg. The network covers 360 degrees of talent management: executive search finds and assesses the right talent in the market, consulting develops people and organizations. With the addition of Evolve South Africa, Kennedy is now active on 4 continents and in 14 countries and offers a global reach. Between the 75+ consultants and researchers, 30 languages are spoken. As a network Kennedy will run 365 strategic recruitments all over the world this year. Kennedy Executive Search & Consulting helps organizations to achieve their goals and people to enhance their careers every day.





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After an unsuccessful attempt at a Chemical Engineering degree, Meredith graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies.

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