What Character Traits Best Predict a Successful Career?

by Felicia Dye

Knowledge and skills are learned capabilities that can determine a person's career path. Character traits are distinguishing qualities that can determine a person's level of success. Since career paths and work climates are diverse, there is not a universal list of character traits that predict success, but there are many qualities that tend to characterize the overachievers.

Motivation and Passion

Some people have dreams, ideas or plans that are never realized. This is often due to a lack of motivation, which is the drive to get something done. People with successful careers usually do not need to be coaxed, persuaded or threatened with consequences such as job termination to do their jobs properly. They are driven by their own motivations -- whether it's money, career advancement or work ethic -- to meet their goals and expectations. Passion is usually the root of motivation. A passionate professional is one who is eager to engage in her work and takes a thoughtful approach to it. This positive attitude is reflected in the results, which is why people are encouraged to work at jobs they enjoy.

Confidence and Determination

Confidence is a driver of success because it is a reflection of a person's belief system. People experience the best results when they believe in their personal abilities and the products and services they offer. Being the best and offering the best is often a challenge that needs to be met with determination, which allows people to overcome obstacles and continually achieve. Bosses and customers look for these qualities in successful professionals.

Independent and Responsible

Successful people are usually leaders, creators and problem solvers even if they are not in management positions. As such, they are usually not as heavily reliant on direction as their peers. Those who are independent enjoy the challenge of completing tasks and making decisions on their own. With independence comes responsibility, and successful people should know how to handle it. Being responsible means more than doing what obviously needs to be done. It can include addressing situations as they arise or jumping on emerging opportunities. Successful people must also know how to assume responsibility for failures, errors or other problems that arise.


Successful people understand the value of being personable despite changes in communication technologies. No matter how you communicate with colleagues and customers -- whether on the phone, in person or through electronic means -- people who are successful have a gift for communicating in a clear, friendly and effective manner.


In a fast-paced world, adaptability is an important part of career success. The days of being able to do one thing in one way have passed. Successful people accept that they must alter and expand their skills, knowledge and strategies to keep up with changing work trends and technologies. They also understand that it is necessary to take on new roles and responsibilities under the banner of the same position.

About the Author

Felicia Dye graduated from Anne Arundel Community College with an associate's degree in paralegal studies. She began her writing career specializing in legal writing, providing content to companies including Internet Brands and private law firms. She contributes articles to Trace 775.com.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images