11 Personality Traits That Could Derail Your Career

Personality Traits

There is no standard way in which individuals respond to humans and their environment; it’s unique. It is the consistent manner in which we think, feel, and behave is that psychologists call personality.

There are positive aspects to personality traits — People may perceive attributes like self-motivation, long-term planning, innovation, seeking for information/knowledge, and openness to new experience as being excellent traits.

However, the personality also has a darker side (the dark triad). In this case, we see the patterns of behaviour that result in conflicts, issues, and distress at the workplace.

Our focus tends to be on innate strengths when determining what is required for success at work like an innate sense of intelligence, a thirst to learn, ambition to succeed, and the social skills to establish strong relationships.

However, these traits always coexist with weaknesses — aspects of personalities that, while seemingly oblivious in some circumstances, can have disastrous consequences for careers and organizations when left unchecked.

Psychologists Robert and Joyce Hogan developed an inventory of these “dark side” traits almost 20 years ago. These 11 qualities resemble the most common personality disorders when taken to extremes.


Being overly self-confident, entitled, and having an inflated sense of worth


Detail-oriented, precise, meticulous


A willingness to please but a reluctance to act independently or express disagreement


Lacks assertiveness, is resistant to change, takes a longer time to make decisions


Attention-seeking, dramatic person who tends to interrupt instead of listening


Likes taking risks, pushing limits, and seeking excitement


Indifferent to others’ feelings, aloof


Cynical, distrustful, sensitive to criticism, focused on the negative


Moody, easily irritated, difficult to please, and emotionally unstable


Acts or thinks in an unusual or eccentric manner


Overtly cooperative, but secretly irritable, stubborn, and uncooperative

Leaders often fail to evaluate their dark sides as they rise through the ranks, especially as they gain more power. People sometimes mistakenly perceive their professional advancement as a validation for their bad habits. However, they may eventually be derailed, and perhaps even their teams and organizations as well. For example,

Initially, a cautious leader may create an impression of risk management and control in the short term. Too much caution could lead to sabotaging progress and innovation because it would make people very risk-averse.

They may display passion and enthusiasm to co-workers and subordinates by being exuberant but at the same time, they might turn volatile and unpredictable, which might be exhausting for others. They work diligently, pay attention to details and strive to produce high-quality work, but when overdone, it can become an obsession with perfection and procrastination.

You can enhance your self-awareness by reflecting on your personality style and understanding your dark side as it relates to other people’s styles.

Take a look at how you match up with the clusters below and see if you can improve. It is important to know that these patterns are not mutually exclusive. Depending on their lifetime of experience and knowledge, some people use a combination of these.

Also Read: How Do I Avoid Getting Sickness?

Cluster A

Eccentric Styles – Driven to stand out


Cautious about others’ intentions


Detects threats well


Prefers working individually

Focusing on specific tasks without interruptions

Good at independent work and thought


Wants to stand out from the crowd, dislikes ‘normal’

Possess a unique perspective when approaching problems

Cluster B

Assertive Styles – Driven to gain control


Constant desires seeking excitement and fears missing out.

A knack for taking decisive action.


Can be intense but unpredictable.

Excellent at establishing relationships and generating new ideas.


Desire to be noticed and seen by others.

Great at commanding and holding others’ attention.


Presentation and image are extremely important.

Project confidence well.


Prioritizes outcomes over relationships.

Good at getting the job done at any cost.

Cluster C

Anxious Styles – Driven to solve problems


Keen awareness of interpersonal conflicts

Excellent at establishing peace and building consensus.


An intense desire to be helpful to others.

Good at advising and supporting roles.


Highly motivated to achieve order, control, and productivity.

Good at long-term planning.

How do you respond to stress compared to your colleagues? How do you cope with stress? Observe how effective these strategies have been in the workplace, as well as how conflict-causing they have been. For better understanding, your style, take your own free dark side personality test.

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