A study into the relative business advantages of personality versus social networks, conducted by PhD student Blaine Landis, from the Cambridge Judge Business School, has revealed that who you are matters more than who you know.


Landis analysed over 70 independent research reports before coming to the conclusion that personality is a stronger predictor of performance and career success than having a large and influential social network. Although having great contacts – real or virtual – is important to career success, apparently it’s still your personality that most strongly determines how far you’ll go. The research reinforces the view that our actions and general behaviour still matter hugely in a world where the importance of being ‘connected’ is often seen as the most effective way of building a career.


Landis also found that getting the most from networks is dependent on personality. And also uncovered evidence that our emotions may cloud our view of our rivals – tricking us into viewing them as more powerful than they actually are. Strong emotions can lead us to believe our rivals are more centrally positioned with an organisation and have a stronger network around them than we possess.


The message from this research is that organisations shouldn’t forget to factor in personal psychology as well as social networks when they’re trying to understand and influence how and why their people behave the way they do.