UPSC Civil Services: Traits of an IAS Officer

Behaviour of IAS officer/Personality of IAS officer

UPSC Civil Services-Traits of an IAS Officer


“The price of greatness is responsibility.”                           

                                                                            – Winston Churchill 

If you are browsing through this site and stumbled upon this article, you are probably preparing to take the October 2020 UPSC civil services prelims. You have an ambition (along with lakhs of others if I may add) of becoming an Indian civil servant or diplomat and serving the country with your talent and capabilities. It takes sincere hard work and meticulous preparation to crack what is possibly the toughest competitive exam in the country. And, once you cross the three hurdles (the UPSC prelims, mains and the interview) to achieve your dream profession, what next? Can you let go of all the characteristics that propelled you towards your goal? What traits should you inculcate and display when you become an IAS officer or any officer with the central or state governments? Read on to find out what traits are expected of a model civil servant or diplomat in our country.

Good administrator

The chief function of an IAS officer is to take care of the administration of the area under his jurisdiction. You would be in charge of framing and implementation of governmental policies in consultation with the respective ministry. You would also need to supervise the implementation of the policies. All this requires you to display excellent administrative capabilities. See also Functions of an IAS Officer.


A civil servant is also expected to lead his team in all the developmental work allotted to him. It is an important trait as only an effective leader can bring the best out of his team.

Decision-making skills

An IAS officer should exhibit rational and quick decision-making skills. This is why analytical abilities are also tested in the UPSC civil services exams. Even in the interview, the UPSC board asks situational questions where candidates would have to explain how they would handle a crisis situation if they were the District Collector of a place. An IAS officer should display a good presence of mind in complex situations. For this, he should have the knowledge to use the various decision-making tools and forecast the societal impact of a decision made.


Needless to say, a job that involves working for the betterment of the people needs a committed and sincere worker. An IAS officer will have a hectic life involving travelling to various places under his jurisdiction. An officer should display unbridled commitment and enthusiasm for his job.

Work ethic

A solid work ethic in all employees in an organisation leads to the company’s growth. Similarly, if every stakeholder in the country displays a good work ethic, the country’s progress will accelerate. IAS officers must also have a sound work ethic and not be indifferent towards their work.

Good communication skills

A good leader is only as effective as his ability to communicate his ideas and directives effectively to his team. The government doesn’t function as a one-man team. It requires a collaborative effort to frame, implement and supervise all policies and schemes to its conclusion. For this, an IAS officer must be able to clearly and efficiently communicate with his team. This is why language skills are judged in the UPSC civil services exams.

Lateral thinking

Lateral thinking is a problem-solving approach that involves thinking out of the box. It implies thinking in a creative and unusual manner rather than employing conventional wisdom in solving problems. It is important for an IAS officer to show a creative side as his job involves people and society. Nothing is as unpredictable as people. The problems that arise on a day-to-day basis can be stupefying and it warrants a penchant for innovation on the part of the IAS officer dealing with it.

Show empathy

The UPSC civil services board assesses a candidate’s ability to relate to other people and their problems in the UPSC personality test. This is because a civil servant is required to connect with people and appreciate their problems. Internalising a problem makes it easier to find a solution for.

Honesty, Integrity & Transparency

Corrupt officials are a bane to our society and it is sad that so many civil servants take undue advantage of their position of power and influence for personal gains. It is important to keep corruption at bay and clean up the system if India is to move ahead on the path to progress. The UPSC wants only honest officers to occupy the seats and this is why an ethics paper was introduced in the year 2013 for the UPSC mains. It is important for IAS officers to be honest and resist any temptation to place the self above the nation as they have a direct say in taking the country towards development.

Responsibility and accountability

IAS officers should not only show good decision-making skills but also be accountable for their decisions.

Just and fair

Some of the functions of an IAS officer (as District Magistrate) involves maintaining law and order, supervising the police and also hearing cases under some sections; so it is imperative for them to be just and fair in their dealings.


An IAS officer is expected to be disciplined and refined in his manners and behaviour towards others.


It is very important for a civil servant to be adaptive to changes in society. He should be comfortable with the adoption of technology that can enhance his work. He should continuously update his knowledge.

Other characteristics of an IAS officer include unrestrained love for the country, being diplomatic, having balanced views and being extremely knowledgeable about diverse issues.

It is no joke to take on one of the top responsibilities of the country. The civil services are not for everyone. It takes a lot of sacrifices to get there. Once you are there, it takes immense grit and courage to be a successful change-maker. If you think you are up to it, go through BYJU’S free IAS prep for more.

Kickstart your UPSC 2021 preparation now!

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