Brimming with Self-belief, driven by their appetite to achieve, optimistic about themselves and the future, resilient in the face of set-backs, and willing to persevere, to keep a grip until the ends are achieved.

This is the Executional leader. Think of Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the 19th Century, Margaret Thatcher in the 20th, or Sheryl Sandberg in the current. Their view of the world is captured by J R D Tata.

In short, these are the people who get things to happen in our world.

If you recognise yourself in this brief description, you may well already have lost interest in this post, feel there is nothing new to learn here (Executional leaders are low in Open-minded, very low in Humility). You may also be tired of feedback that continues to point out your lack of empathy, lack of awareness of others. Or be frustrated that your lack of Prudence and Self-regulation means you jump with both feet into the latest ‘how to be a better person’, only to find your attention has drifted within a few weeks.

Whether or not you fit the Executional leader profile, here are 3 things to know:

As rare as hen’s teeth?

Not quite. Our CharacterScope data (2500 reviews, both self and peer, across 50 organisations) suggests that around 1 in 8 people in any organisation will fit the profile of the Executional leader.

The Unloved leader.

When asked to choose their personal aspiration, and given a free choice across 9 Leader types (see  for the full list and descriptions), the Executional leader is the least popular aspiration, chosen by only 5% of people.

Unloved even by other Executional leaders.

What is particularly striking is that people who subsequently profile as Executional types (people choose their aspirations before completing the self-review questionnaire) are no more likely to choose this as their aspiration. Of the 130 strongest Executional leader ‘fit-to-profile’ scores in our data set, only 4 chose Executional as their aspiration.

So the paradox is that despite an assertive Self-belief, many Executional leaders fail to value the distinctive talents they have. Their most common aspiration? To be more of a Charismatic leader, similarly imbued with self-confidence but able to hold people spell-bound. More of which in a future post.

And in case you are tempted to offer the Executional leaders in your life words of praise and appreciation, think twice. One of their pet hates is unsolicited, unwarranted praise. Just help them discover their next, seemingly unachievable target and bet them they can’t do it.