High flyers - those who reach a senior management position in a relatively short space of time - are more broad thinking, challenging of norms, open to doing things in new ways and more capable of understanding themselves and their colleagues emotions, than their senior management peers.
That's the conclusion of research by Troy Jensen of Kaisen Consulting, who assessed 800 senior managers with known career paths using psychometric tests on a range of personality traits including openness, conscientiousness and extraversion.
Managers were considered to be 'high flyers' if they had reached a senior management position within eight years of starting their career.
The study, which was presented at the British Psychological Society's Annual Conference, found that high flyers do significantly differ from their senior manager peers on a number of personality and thinking dimensions.
Broadly, they were found to be higher on many levels of effective social functioning, as well as on breadth and creativity in thinking.
Mr Jensen said: "Our research suggests that effective social and emotional functioning may be an important component of what separates 'high flyers' that rise quickly from other senior managers, especially as we found that analytical ability is similar in both groups.
He continued, "Whilst research into 'high flyers' has tailed off over the past few years, it seems, based on our findings, that there may be a case for further investigation with a view towards differentiating between high-potential employees who succeed and those who are derailed.
"Further inquiry may also be beneficial for more accurately identifying 'high potential' employees, as well as building a business case for the importance of 'soft skills' in organisations," he added.