Mastery at Work – How Important is Conscientiousness at Work?


Zig Ziglar wrote about a very wise old man who lived on a hilltop overlooking the beautiful city of Venice, Italy. Legend had it that he could answer any question anyone might ask him. Two local boys figured they could trick him, so they caught a bird and took it to the wise old man. 

“Tell us,” they asked, “is the bird in our hand dead or alive?”

The wise old man replied, “Son, if I say the bird is alive, you will close your hands and crush it to death. Or, if I say the bird is dead, you will open your hands and it will fly away. The answer is in your hands.”

And so it is with life. We hold the our potential for success or the seeds of our failure in our hands. Conscientiousness is the our ability to live a meaningful life! whatever we sow we reap. It’s the law of the harvest.

The one personality trait that separated successive US presidents as per Journal Assessment 2000 study is Conscientiousness. Conscientious people are highly organized, dependable, disciplined, result oriented, high achievers, and hardworking by nature. Most of the US presidents without naming them scored in the 90th percentile and above for this one trait which forms a part of “Big Five” personality factors per standard psychology.

What is conscientiousness? Conscientiousness is characterized by organization, methodic planning, thoroughness, purposeful action and innate desire to do the task assigned really well.  People who are conscientious tend to have long term goals and they work consistently and with perseverance towards achieving their goals.

Conscientiousness is a very important predictor of success at job, hence it is highly advisable to check the candidates for this trait at the time of interview. People who score high on conscientiousness are composed, never impulsive in their actions and this distinguishes them from people who are not (lack of conscientiousness is visible by laidback attitude, disorderly way of working, less goal orientation and inability to be driven by success).

Recently, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology stated that conscientiousness has two distinct parts.

Industriousness, which is excellence in making plans, setting goals and achieving them with discipline, perseverance and tenacity.

Orderliness which is strong sense of duty towards your organization, ability to follow rules, being diligent and reliability in terms of ability to complete the task given. Orderly people are punctual and think before they act. In order words, they are not impulsive in nature and not disorganized in their schedule.

Now coming to the important question of how do we improve conscientiousness? We can improve the same by:

  1. Assessing your conscientiousness by taking up various online test. You can try this one https://www.truity.com/test/how-conscientious-are-you
  2. Recognizing negative behaviors and being aware of these behaviors is the first step to making positive changes in behavior.
  3. Get punctual and organized. Update your goals, prepare plans to achieve them, prepare to-do lists.
  4. Start all the above changes with small manageable changes so that you don’t end up overwhelming yourselves.
  5. Become more dependable, complete whatever task you begin on time on regular basis.
  6. To ensure the same, avoid getting distracted and ensure focus on activity on hand.
  7. Take responsibility of your actions, do not be impulsive, and be high on self-regulation.

Happy Reading until next time!

Dr Batool Fatima

Leave a comment

Filed under Being Successful at Job

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s