It has been a decade-old debate whether professional qualities or a befitting personality is more important for success in life. There are innumerable people with exceptional professional qualities who never achieved success as per their skills. Similarly, there are innumerable people with magnetic personalities, who have always been eluded by success but could not have it in their grasp. Although professional qualities can be the same, their magnitude of expertise varies from individual to individual.
But personality is unique to each. We can generalize personalities of multiple individuals as charming, bright or highly positive, but there is no perfect proportion of professional prowess and personality in an individual that makes him/her perfect. So, although it may seem there is no right answer to this ever-lingering question, a nuanced understanding of both reveals that being more gifted in one area has significant advantages.
Intelligence Isn't Always a Boon
Most believe that intelligent people have a greater chance of success than those who are considered to be average. While it is a preconceived notion that an intelligent person will acquire professional qualities more easily and, thereby, will create better chances of success, this relative equation seldom comes true. Bill Gates revealed that intelligence in people after a certain threshold diminishes their ability to lead successfully. Hence many fresh graduates in their final year of college or university needn't fear competition from their brainier peers as many of the former may lack personalities that allow them to step into leadership roles. Generally, people with stratospheric IQs over 160 lack sound leadership skills.
Employers Can Easily Evaluate Professional Qualities
Every fresh college graduate and working executive knows that during interviews, employers try to decipher whether they have the right professional qualities. It is relatively easy for employers to learn what professional qualities a candidate has. Every candidate's educational qualification, work experience (if any), seemingly impressive answers to the interviewer’s questions and their overall demeanor reveal their professional qualities. However, it is important to remember that interviewers find it harder to discern a candidate’s personality. It is because a befitting personality does not have a predetermined definition, and the interviewer is no psychoanalyst. Therefore, a candidate who wants to highlight his or her personality should attempt to do so during an interview by dressing well, displaying appropriate behavior, and being articulate about his/her craft.
Going Beyond Professional Qualities
Fresh graduates and seasoned executives should know that professional qualities aren't everything. They should understand that during interviews, personality goes a long way. If a candidate has good interpersonal skills, he or she is likely to be a better fit for an organization. And when two candidates with similar professional qualities interview for a job, the one with a more fitting personality is likely to get the job. But what is a fitting personality? Usually, an executive or graduate who makes good eye contact, has a firm handshake, is likable and willing to help others has traits that are likely to impress interviewers. A survey by the Institution of Engineering and Technology revealed that nearly 65% of mid-sized companies in India choose to impart soft-skill training over technical training to employees.
Professional Qualities can be Learned
There are other unique advantages to having a fitting personality. For instance, it's much harder to change and develop one's personality than it is to learn new skills. So college graduates who have charming personalities have more advantage over those who only have sound professional qualities. A person who has a charming personality can learn new skills while someone who has good professional qualities but a poor personality will find it difficult to transform their personality into a charming one.
The Power to Learn, Unlearn and Relearn
Professional skills are valuable, but the same becomes a drawback when employees grow complacent at work. An executive who has several years of professional experience may be adept at his job but, along the way, he has acquired harmful work habits that are difficult to unlearn. Hence in many roles, fresh graduates are preferred because while they may have less impressive professional qualities, they don't have any harmful work habits that get in the way of the work they perform for a new employer. Every fresh graduate and executive should understand that the future belongs to those who can learn, unlearn, and relearn new skills. This view is shared by the esteemed futurist Alvin Toffler.
A Fitting Personality Produces Great Teams
In the movie, Gladiator, Proximo rightly says, “I wasn’t the best because I killed quickly. I was the best because the crowd loved me. Win the crowd.”
Young graduates and executives with good personalities have increased chances to thrive in professional roles catering to customer relations. One of the heightened advantages of a charming personality is that they attract people. It can be clients, customers or team members. The scope to step into leadership roles, therefore, increases for these individuals.
In Some Crucial Jobs, a Fitting Personality is Key
Sales and marketing are two of the most vital roles in any organization, and those doing either should have exceptional personalities. Hence to be good in some roles, professional qualities matter very little while a fitting personality matters a lot. Leading CEOs like Warren Buffet and Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks began their careers in sales.
Instead of choosing one over the other, harness a balance between skill development and personality development. That way, no matter what profession or industry you pursue, you will always be successful to stand out of the crowd, and pull them towards you, at the same time.