16 Positive Character Traits to Help You Succeed at Work

One woman is talking while another is laughing in what seems like a happy workplace

It takes a lot of hard work and determination to be successful at work, but that’s only part of the story. You also need strong, positive character traits like reliability, grit, resilience, and so many more.

We’ve put together a compiled list of the top positive character traits that will help you succeed in any workplace. We’ll talk about what the traits are and why they’re important to your success at work.

What are character traits?

Many people confuse the term “character traits” with personality or temperament. While your character is influenced by your personality, it goes beyond that and into the realm of habit, inclination, and how you act over long periods of time.

Character traits impact how we interact with others, our ability to understand situations, and how we deal with adversity. They’re qualities that become habitual over time. They can be positive or negative.

When we’re young, we may have developed some negative habits (struggling to make emotional connections, not accepting or handing out praise, combativeness, etc.) that were helpful for surviving. However, it’s easy for those habits and trait to carry over to adulthood. Eventually, these negative traits can become character flaws that hold us back from our aspirations and goals.

We’ll go through some positive character traits in just a moment, but try to think of general character as this: it’s how you react to situations both difficult and pleasant on an emotional level. Those reactions can be good or harmful, but your character is how you initially respond to those situations.

While there is no clear cut definition of good or bad character, a positive, strong character is one that responds to situations with a sense of honesty, compassion, courage, and care. (Other traits are included in a positive character, but this is just a general idea.) These can be developed through hard work and patience.

Why are positive character traits important in the workplace?

Regardless of the industry you work in, it’s important to be reliable, honest, and accountable. If you have these kind of character traits and values, then your chances of succeeding among a team, growing within a company, and leading and influencing individuals grows.

It’s difficult to build a career on dishonesty, deception, unreliability, coldheartedness, and rigidity. Your reputation for being trustworthy and reliable is everything in the workplace.

Positive character traits will help you become more involved and appreciated by the people around you. Insight Global culminates positive character traits under a list of shared values. Those values are:

  • Everyone Matters
  • We Take Care of Each Other
  • Leadership is Here To Serve
  • High Character and Hard Work Above All Else
  • Always Know Where You Stand

You see “high character” in there. You can also read that as “strong character,” or “positive character,” or “good character.” Then the others? They’re all reflections of someone’s positive character and behavior.

Keep them in mind as you go through this post. You’ll see how positive character traits permeate what we believe in as a company, and they should help you succeed with your employer.

Positive character traits for the workplace

So let’s get into them. What are some positive character traits for the workplace? We’ve listed out 16, but these are in no way the only traits that can make you successful in the workplace. Any trait that helps you gain trust, reliance, leadership, or confidence from your team are ones that will help you navigate the workplace successfully.

1. Organized

You’ll need to stay organized if you want to succeed in the workplace. An organized worker is able to work more efficiently, and you’ll become more reliable to coworkers. (We’ll dig into these more in just a moment.”

Organization is a skill, but it’s also a lifestyle. Organization helps you clearly define what you need to get done, who you need to talk to when you have questions or problems,

Disorganized workers can find themselves disheveled and forgetful because their tasks pile up quickly. Without organization, you can also totally forget tasks and responsibilities, which leaves you in a less dependable place.

2. Dependable

This one is similar to responsibility. Once you are trusted to do a task, you eventually become dependable when you consistently do what’s asked of you. Dependability also shows itself in simply showing up when you are expected to.

This character trait can reveal itself in both big and small ways. You may have a coworker who is out unexpectedly due to a personal or family emergency. Can you show that you are dependable by stepping up and helping that coworker while they deal with something serious? Dependability can also just mean helping a coworker fix a grammar issue in a big presentation. These situations show you can be relied upon in workplace situations across the spectrum.

Dependable folks show up when they say they will and put in effort every day.

A woman is talking to a coworker off camera while a male and female coworker are engaged and laughing.

3. Responsible

Perhaps one of the most important positive character traits is responsibility.

Responsibility means you are capable of being trusted by other coworkers. It means you were asked to do something, and you do it. You don’t need to be reminded to do tasks multiple times, and you don’t need to be reminded how to do the task over and over.

Responsible workers make great employees and coworkers because they get the job done and they get it done right, which saves others time and resources to focus on things they need to focus on.

4. Resilient

No one’s career is a complete breeze. Developing yourself in workplace isn’t easy, and there’s a good chance that you’ll struggle at points. But personal struggles shouldn’t define your career path; instead, they should teach you how to overcome adversity and grow from the experience.

Resilient workers embrace challenges and use them to their advantage. When things don’t go their way, they bounce back from the loss because of how they’ve learned to handle adversity. They aren’t crushed by a job that didn’t turn out as planned or a client who walked away from a project that wasn’t up to par.

Resilient employees have high levels of self-motivation (more on that in a moment) and ambition, which is what drives them through difficult times.

5. Efficient

An efficient worker uses their time wisely, making sure to get work done in an appropriate time frame. They also set up process to make their lives and coworkers lives smoother from an efficiency standpoint.

Efficiency comes from practicing skills over a period of time. It shouldn’t be expected of you to learn a new program or skill then know how to do everything perfectly right away. However, do you learn the skill, then optimize it for your tasks and responsibilities? That’s part of growing as a professional. When coworkers see you as efficient, they can trust you with completing tasks and maybe even make their jobs run smoother in the process.

6. Gritty

This is a big one at Insight Global.

Grit is “a passion and perseverance for long-term goals,” as defined by Angela Duckworth, the author and researcher behind the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Grit makes you want to learn a skill, develop that skill, and not give up when that skill becomes increasingly difficult to master. It also means making those skills and interests productive in your everyday life. A key component of grit is the effort you put into something.

“Without effort, your talent is nothing more than unmet potential,” Duckworth says in her book. “Without effort, your skill is nothing more than what you could have done but didn’t. With effort, talent becomes skill and, and the very same time, effort makes skill productive.”

Do you have passions? Do you have perseverance? Have you put in the effort to develop those passions and push through when times get tough? If you answered yes to all of those, you might have high levels of grit.

All of this is vital in the workplace. Times will get tough at your job. You’ll also be tasked with learning new skills. Are you willing to put in the time and effort to develop those talents? You’ll be successful if you develop your grit.

(Go ahead and order Grit if you’d like.)

7. Self-starter/Motivated

One of the most common positive character traits of successful employees is being a self-starter. These people find ways to motivate themselves to get tasks done, think of new ideas and ways to complete tasks, and do things even when they aren’t asked to do so. You need to be able to think outside of the box and stay innovative.

Self-starter employees have a drive for success; they aren’t ones who need hand-holding to get all of their tasks. They take initiative on projects. They’re proactive and they want to succeed just as much as their employer does, which is why they’re so driven to get things done every single day.

Without motivation and the ability to get the ball rolling yourself, it’ll be a struggle to keep progressing in your career and in the workplace.

However, to be fair, motivation must come from having goals and a purpose. If those things aren’t defined for you by a manager or leader, create that purpose on your own. Why are you doing what you’re doing? Take time to develop the answer to that, and the motivation/self-starter traits will follow.

8. Creative

Employees who are creative think out of the box. They develop innovative critical thinking ideas that can potentially take teams and companies far. They also keep work life fresh!

Your company will always assume calculated risks and look for the most cost-effective options. Creative thinkers may not always come up with a concrete solution on how to help the company achieve this, but they can spark the mind that does, because they are open-minded and are able to imagine an alternative course of action that differs from the traditional strategy.

9. Empathetic

Empathy is a positive character trait that can be very beneficial at work (and real life) because it shows that you care about other people and their problems.

If you’re empathetic, you’re not just listening, but you’re truly understanding what the other person is dealing with. If someone is struggling at work or home, you have the ability to tend to the person and make sure they have the support they need. Sometimes that’s understanding someone needs time off, sometimes that means extra time to accomplish tasks, and sometimes that’s simply being an ear they can lend themselves to.

A woman listening to a man describe a task while both are seated at a computer.

10. Confident

Confident employees embrace change instead of fearing it, which helps them push through difficult times in order to achieve success. Don’t confuse confidence with think you’re the best at everything, though.

Confidence shows itself in small ways. It means sticking to an idea you think is right and not standing down to naysayers. It’s presenting new processes or ideas with well-thought-out reason. It’s showing another coworker you have faith in them to handle a responsibility they haven’t before.

Most importantly, confident employees aren’t afraid to show their confidence. If you don’t feel you’re confident in the workplace, it takes time and practice to develop this trait. And if you’re in a workplace where you’ve asserted something with confidence multiple times and were consistently shot down, you might not be in a healthy workplace that encourages this behavior. It may be a sign it’s time for change.

11. Flexible

Flexible workers are adaptable. They can change with the times, whether that means switching up their tasks or learning new skills that will come in handy for future reference.

Flexibility is key in today’s world because it helps employees demonstrate all sorts of talents. It also shows your ability to change your needs and goals with the company’s needs and goals. This is different than being a pushover, though. There’s an aspect to flexibility that includes knowing when to be flexible and when to stand your ground.

12. Communicative

Good communication is able to permeate so many aspects of work. Your ability to communicate includes being able to convey:

  • Needs
  • Problems
  • Successes
  • Recognition
  • Issues
  • Plans
  • Vision and goals

These are so crucial for a workplace. Good communication is developed from having the ability to communicate all of these in times of difficulty, stress, and other situations. Even if something isn’t going how you planned, good communication helps keep everyone involved on the same page and motivated toward the same goal.

Again, this comes with practice.

A man is talking to coworkers with a woman in the background.

13. Interpersonal

In order to work with others, employees need the ability to be interpersonal. This means being able to be cordial and professional with everyone around you. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid conflict or stick up for what you think is right, but you should be capable of maintaining composure and professionalism no matter what.

Being interpersonal also means learning and knowing how to act and talk to different people. Some coworkers may love talking about their personal lives, while others prefer to keep that private. Some want criticisms and advice on a weekly basis, while you may need to be a bit more careful with how often you offer critiques to others.

Having a feel for these situations will help you be successful in the workplace.

14. Team Player

A team player understands their role and does what it takes to help the team (or business, or company) win and be successful. They understand that often, the sum is greater than the individual parts.

Think of our Know Where You Stand shared value. This means that you know what your role is, and you try to execute your role to the best of your ability. While part of that is on you as an individual, it’s also important for leaders in your company to convey that role and your expectations. If everyone is on the same page with what their responsibilities are, it also helps clear up some confusion about who is supposed to do what.

Employees who are team players don’t go off on their own or try to take tasks into their own hands because they want the team to win.

15. Respectful

Respect is one of the basic traits for being a decent human being. Employees need to be respectful of their coworkers, managers, superiors, people whom they manage, their vendors, and everyone who helps in making the workplace a successful environment. This also shows your ability to handle stressful situations with dignity, and not anger or contempt.

Being respectful is a two-way street. As you are respectful to others, others should offer you the same respect.

16. Curious

Another positive character trait is being curious.

People who are curious will ask for clarification when they don’t understand something or want to learn more about their job duties. It’s always good to be inquisitive because it helps you become more knowledgable and a better problem solver.

If an employee is asking questions about things going on in the business, they will be learning at the same time. That is beneficial for everyone.

The Takeaways

Positive character traits create a workplace environment that is accommodating, trusting, reliable and sets employees up for success. Employers will see that people with good character traits tend to produce better results within the scope of a team because they’re driven, confident, self-sufficient, and overall just decent people.

These strong traits also help you become a better leader. As you show others what being a decent employee is all about, many will follow suit.

If you are in an environment where you feel you don’t have the opportunity to display or develop these traits, head on over to the Insight Global job board, where you will find thousands job openings where you can do just that.