The Dark-Side of Personality: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

Posted by Michael Sanger on Thu, Oct 20, 2016

Everyone around the world derails, or shows their dark side, at some point in a career. That is, people from all walks of life inevitably demonstrate behaviors and reactions that end up getting in the way of leadership, relationships, and/or performance at one time or another. But why do self-aware, educated professionals who know their stress-induced conduct is counterproductive act in such ways across the globe?
Freud summed it up with his “life sucks, deal with [your neuroses]” perspective, postulating that the conditioning for our nerve-wracked outlook starts from birth. You never see a newborn come out laughing, do you? It’s cold, it’s bright, it’s foreign; and Sigmund believed that experience sticks with you, leaving residual trauma lodged somewhere in your subconscious. And even if you don’t buy into his unproven hypotheses, think about that baby’s likely favorite word a couple of years later: “No”. Why do they say that all the time? They’re testing boundaries; they’re testing limits; they’re making sense of their world; and all the while they’re being instructed how to act. Many times, these instructions counter their natural inclinations. They adapt and experiment with ways to get their way.
This two-year-old eventually grows, and enters primary school. There she or he faces new authority figures (teachers), peers (classmates) and a more complex society. The child continues her or his attempts to resolve feelings of inadequacy caused by humiliation, injury, and other traumas. This continues to evolve in middle school, high school, and beyond. Every child gets injured, gets called on by the instructor when they don’t know the answer, has to face a bully in the schoolyard; not to mention the fears of rejection that crop up when one becomes a teenager.
All of a sudden, sometime during our early twenties—boom—one’s personality, and the associated inclinations, becomes far more concrete. All of those behaviors we’ve been experimenting with to either get our way or resolve feelings of inadequacy become unconscious go-to tools in our repertoire of reactions.
Executives are nothing but messed up grown ups dealing with the same psychological issues they’ve been harboring their whole lives. And just like their parents, teachers, and bullies in the schoolyards, their bosses, peers, and subordinates (as well as the stress of the job itself) can make them feel inadequate and emotionally insecure. Thus an almost uncontrollable reaction emerges. So why do they act this way? Partly habit, and partly because it’s worked for them in some way in the past...
There are three broad categories of responses from which individuals tend to choose during times of stress. The first two are well known: Fight (confrontation) versus flight (distancing). But what is less talked about is becoming the bully’s friend or embracing the stress (acquiescence, or false compliance). Freud considered these reactions hysteria, anxiety, and obsessive compulsion. Famed psychoanalyst Karen Horney classified them into moving against, moving away or moving toward behaviors.  
Research has shown that leaders’ communication style and ways of demonstrating drive are influenced by the geographical region in which they operate. In the same vein, some cultures tolerate certain derailing characteristics in their managerial ranks more than others. Depending on the context, one’s dark-side tendencies may be a taboo weakness or, in contrast, may somehow avoid violating existing collective understanding of how an acceptable leader should act.
For example, when organizations emphasize rank, emerging leaders tend to develop unique coping skills. It is a leader’s job to implement mandates from above with lower-level employees. If overused, this strength can lead to a kiss up/kick down leadership style, characterized by excessive deference or sudden attention to detail when reporting up, and issuing fiery directives or refusing to compromise when commanding subordinates. This behavior set is tolerated more in certain countries, such as Turkey, India, Serbia, Greece, Kenya, and Mainland China, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Leaders from organizations operating in these locations tend to be diligent and dutiful with their bosses but intense and dominating with their reports. Although this behavior set is not demonstrated to such extremes by organizational leaders from countries like the US, UK and Australia, these same tendencies are found to be the least interfering with success across jobs in these locations.
In other parts of the world, it is more acceptable for leaders to become cynical or even covertly resistant under stress. These reactions usually occur when the individual is forced to pursue an objective or carry out a task without being won over or in the absence of sound rationale. Leaders with this style are more widely accepted in New Zealand, Indonesia, and Malaysia, where it doesn’t seem to impede their advancement.
Thus, it is imperative to study what country or regionally specific dark-side tendencies are more-or-less tolerated during promotion to executive positions. These data inform us on a country’s leadership emergence factors and clue us in to what the working population admires, sees as distasteful, and/or seeks to emulate. Furthermore, understanding the cultural differences will help stakeholders ask the right questions and make the right decision. Dark-side behaviors don’t always become obvious until the person is in a new, complex and stressful situation. Assessing early can help you identify these tendencies before making a promotion decision.

Topics: cultural differences

Who Dare Speak Truth to Power?

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Tue, Oct 18, 2016

Truth_to_powerHow organizations can encourage influential partnerships by guest blogger Gillian Hyde, Chief Psychologist, Psychological Consultancy Ltd.

Leaders - from presidents and CEOs to principals and primary school head teachers - exert power over people’s lives. Significant aspects of their personality - such as self-confidence, charm, being visionary or simply a strong communicator - are often the ingredients that elevated them to their influential positions. Yet almost every forceful character in a managerial or leadership position will have downsides to their personality. A go-getting, optimistic leader is likely to be arrogant at times and may be overbearing or even too forceful. Similarly, a wildly imaginative and innovative type will probably display a sprinkling of eccentricity and possibly a hint of vagueness from time to time. 

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As leaders scale the career ladder and acquire more power and influence, the impact of these overplayed strengths becomes more far-reaching. At the same time, their behaviors are likely to gain momentum, turning more excessive and unfettered because of a lack of counterbalancing forces. Colleagues and peers have less influence, and this constrains their ability to challenge the leader through honest discussion, debate, criticism, or advice. “Nobody speaks truth to power,” says Geoff Trickey, Managing Director at Psychological Consultancy Ltd. “No one tells you you’re a fool or that’s a stupid idea. You’re beginning to feel indestructible so at that point the dark side is just lurking around the corner. It’s been creeping up on you as you’ve moved up the building.”

Stemming the tide

So how widespread is the issue? Research suggests that as much as 85% of the UK population has at least one potentially derailing personality characteristic, with over a quarter possessing four or more. These dark side qualities typically become apparent during novel or stressful periods, or when an individual feels relaxed, or invulnerable. Given the prevalence of these characteristics, the question then is what can organizations do to cur

b excessive behavior amongst their leaders and minimize the risk of them derailing?

There are numerous tools and interventions available to help leaders today, providing important insights into the impact of their behavior. Assessing extreme personality characteristics, for example, helps individuals to increase awareness of their blind-spots and potentially counterproductive behaviors. It can provide early-warning signals, flagging areas they should pay attention to and, in the process, start preparing them for feedback on these behaviors. Further feedback is also available through 360 degree surveys, which provide leaders with rich insights into colleagues’ opinions of them and highlight ways in which they could improve in their attitudes, behavior, and performance. Casting the net more widely, employee engagement surveys show how enchanted or otherwise employees are about the organization, its culture, and processes.

These tools have been demonstrated to have a significant impact. But is it possible to go a step further, creating a role for someone to provide regular feedback and ensure that information gleaned from these assessments and surveys creates a change in a leader’s everyday behavior?

Influential partnerships

One solution is to help leaders to create sustainable influential partnerships. History and literature are peppered with examples of the court jester or fool, who dared to ‘speak truth to power’. Today, a more common example of an influential partnership is likely to be a ‘trusted aide’. This person could be a spouse or partner, a work colleague, or a ‘tough-talking’ executive coach. Crucially, it needs to be someone who is not in competition or engaged in a power struggle with the leader and who can speak up without fear of recrimination.

To be successful, an influential partnership must possess certain key qualities. For example, the partner must have the complete trust of the leader and have the leader’s best interests at heart. Additionally, they mustn’t compete for power and they should try to be present as much as possible so they are well-versed in the issues and sensitivities surrounding the leader. Perhaps most importantly, though, is the need for them to be given free rein to speak the truth. Having knowledge of the leaders’ dark side tendencies, they must be able to flag up when the counterproductive behaviors are in evidence and be candid with their feedback, even if it is not what the leader wants to hear.   

Organizations require diverse personalities and leaders often need counterbalancing forces to moderate and mediate their behaviors. By raising awareness of dark side tendencies and creating influential partnerships, organizations can help leaders to curb their more extreme counterproductive behaviors and avoid the potential pitfalls to derailment. Ultimately, these relationships could benefit the leader, their employees, and the health of the organization.   

Topics: leadership, distributor

Does Seeming Trustworthy Require Trusting Others?

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Thu, Oct 13, 2016

Trust_THUMB_200_v3-1.jpgIntegrity is an essential quality for leaders. In a Hogan survey of more than 1,000 people, 81% identified trustworthiness as one of the qualities of their best boss, and research ties trust in their leaders to business outcomes like employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity.

Although you might assume (and your assumption would join the assertions of hundreds of business writers) that in order to gain your employee’s trust, the first step would be becoming more trusting of others, a recent study showed that may not be the case.

In a large meta-analysis of personality and leader performance, Dr. Jeff Foster, Hogan vice president of science, and Dr. Blaine Gaddis, senior manager of product research, found that no significant correlation between scores on the Hogan Development Survey (HDS) scale and ratings of trustworthiness by peers and subordinates.

“In other words, whether or not you actually trust others doesn’t have a significant impact on whether or not other people trust you, at least up to a point,” Gaddis said. “Obviously if you constantly seem paranoid, your followers aren’t going to trust you as much, but the effect isn’t even close to what we see for other HDS scales like Mischievous, Bold, Colorful, or Imaginative.”

And that’s a good thing—because although it sounds horribly cynical, trust may be best in moderation.

Clearly, it’s healthy to exercise a certain amount of skepticism. Trust someone excessively and you risk being naive. On the one hand, between subordinates lying to get ahead or colleagues jockeying for the same promotion, there are plenty of people around you that may be telling you half-truths. On the other hand, if you’re completely unable or unwilling to trust others, you won’t be able to build and maintain relationships.

“This much is pretty intuitive, but it's something we often forget to keep in balance,” wrote Hogan CEO Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. “Extreme skepticism may seem to some like an intellectual strength, but it can be as handicapping as unconditional trust. Leaders who are highly skeptical, for instance, may have trouble engaging their teams and wind up demoralizing them instead. Few things are more tiring than having to demonstrate or prove everything to someone who then still fails to believe us.”

To read more about how your personality affects how trustworthy you seem, download our complimentary ebook,4 Ways to Build Trust.

Topics: trust

Meet metaBeratung in Dusseldorf, Zurich and Munich

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Tue, Sep 27, 2016

metalogo.pngmetaBeratung, our Hogan Distributor in Germany, Switzerland and Austria is featuring three interesting client events in October/November. HR Executives from Vossloh (rail technology), Erste Bank Group (banking) and Mondi (packaging & paper) will share useful insights on how the Hogan Assessments add value to their ongoing talent selection and development programs. The first event will be held in Düsseldorf, October 4 starting at 5pm: Christina Karschti, Head of Organizational Management and Training will talk about Vossloh’s leadership team and how they went from topmanager to become a cultural change ambassador. She will share insights of a 14-day offsite teaming event.

Coming up next is Zurich, October 20 where Mag. Natalia Corrales-Diez, Alternative Investment Fund Manager, will show how Erste Bank Group, the oldest credit institution in Austria, is using Hogan Assessments in talent mapping: ‘for best students’ as well as ‘career with kids’ are two innovative investment funds the bank has set-up to financially support these target groups. How the Hogan Assessments help keeping the credit failure rate low? Come and join metaBeratung for this session at Steigenberger Bellerive au Lac, Zurich.

Last but not least, it’s Munich: November 16, Ulrike Rams, Head of Talent Management Europe & International will be showing how Hogan Assessments add value to development centers of their national high potential program. Join her and the metaBeratung team at 5pm at Louis Hotel, Munich.

If you have any further questions with regard to the events or would like to register, please contact

How Private Equity Firms Hire CEOs

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Thu, Sep 22, 2016

equity.jpgFounder and Chairman of Green Peak Partners, J.P. Flaum, recently conducted a research study with Jeffrey Cohn of DHR International to determine how successful private equity firms avoid the extremely costly mistake of a bad CEO selection.  After collecting data from the managing partners of 32 PE firms, the authors concluded that (1) experience is overrated, (2) leadership is about building high performing teams, (3) urgency is as important as empathy, (4) perseverance is a key attribute, and (5) trustworthiness is critical.
The following article first appeared in the June 2016 issue of Harvard Business Review.


Corporate boards often say that succession planning is their top priority, but at publicly traded companies, directors rarely get to turn that planning into action: The average CEO tenure at S&P 500 firms is nearly 10 years. That’s in sharp contrast to the private equity world. PE firms hold investments in dozens of companies, and after making an investment, they nearly always replace the CEO. As a result, although a typical public company director might help hire a CEO a few times in a career, veteran PE executives hire multiple CEOs each year and many dozens over the course of a career, giving them a far greater ability to observe trends and learn from successes and mistakes.

To tap this expertise, Jeffrey Cohn, of the executive search firm DHR International, and J.P Flaum, of the consulting firm Green Peak Partners, surveyed and interviewed the managing partners of 32 private equity firms (including Blackstone, Carlyle, KKR, and Silver Lake) about their CEO search process and how it has changed over time. Among the surprises: Executives said they’ve learned to pay less attention to attributes such as track record and experience, the criteria typically most prized by recruiters, and to give more weight to softer skills. “There’s a big difference in philosophy, economics, and process” between PE firms and public company boards, Cohn says. “The private equity firms have a lot more skin in the game—so they feel the burn if they make a bad selection.”

The researchers drew five conclusions:

Experience is overrated.

When filling a CEO position, there’s comfort in hiring someone with prior CEO and industry experience. But the first criterion can dramatically narrow the pool, and the second can yield candidates who are so familiar with the industry that they’re hidebound or likely just to recycle the strategic playbook from their last job. Similarly, overemphasizing quantifiable success in prior positions can be misleading, because results are often a function of “right place/right time” or organizational or team factors rather than one individual. And even within an industry, different competitive positions can demand very different skills—cost cutting versus product innovation versus business model change, for instance. The researchers write, “Past accomplishment and current challenge is rarely an apples-to-apples comparison.” Many of the interviewees said that over the years, they’ve become more open to “nontraditional” candidates who lack degrees from blue-chip schools and haven’t checked the usual boxes in a career progression. One put it this way: “You need someone who can come into a new situation and pick up the fundamentals quickly. A great athlete…is more important than someone with years of experience in an industry.”

Team-building skills are paramount.

Of the 13 attributes included in the survey, the highest ranked was a candidate’s ability to assemble a high-performing team. That makes sense, because many PE investments involve turnarounds in which the new CEO must completely rebuild the C-suite. And, because PE portfolio companies are typically smaller than publicly traded companies, CEOs spend more time in the trenches working alongside subordinates rather than providing autonomy with loose supervision. To avoid leaders who won’t excel at building teams, PE execs say, they watch out for candidates who use “I” too much when talking about accomplishments or who display so much intellectual horsepower that they come across as arrogant, which can inhibit hiring and developing A-level talent. One executive told the researchers, “We ask questions like ‘How many people followed you from your last job to the next one?’ One CEO we interviewed had pulled 31 [former colleagues] into his portfolio company, and it has been a big part of his success.” (See the Spotlight on Managing Teams, in this issue.)

Urgency outranks empathy.

PE firms operate with strict timetables for when a company should be improved and the investment recouped through sale or IPO. (The typical goal is five years.) This ticking clock means that a portfolio company CEO can expect close oversight and faces heightened expectations about the speed with which cost cuts or revenue growth will take place. The researchers write, “Many CEO wannabes will balk at a PE-driven pace, particularly those who have grown accustomed to plusher, more heavily resourced environments.” While this doesn’t mean that a CEO shouldn’t listen to customers or show concern for employees, it does require moving decisively and without regrets. One PE executive said, “I am not down on empathy, but [often] empathy needs to take a back seat to urgency. Some highly empathetic leaders are not able to make the tough personnel decisions that need to be made.”

Resilience is a must.

Parents understand that building resilience in children is important to character; PE types, too, cite it as an important leadership virtue. They’ve become skeptical about candidates who have skipped seamlessly from success to success. “PE firms want to see that a candidate has faced setbacks, made errors, and run adrift—yet lived to fight another day,” according to the researchers’ report. This attribute is especially important because in turnaround situations, leaders are likely to encounter some negative results. “Business plans never go the way you think they will,” one respondent said. “If the CEO does not adapt, you are going to be in trouble.”

Authenticity, translated as candor, is also key.

Like “resilience,” “authenticity” has become so overused that its meaning can be vague. The researchers drilled down and found that PE executives use it to mean candor and a willingness to deliver bad news quickly and honestly. In a public company, sharing negative information is a delicate process—it’s likely to move the stock price—but in a PE company, real-time sharing takes precedence. One interview subject said, “I need my CEOs to have the confidence to be transparent with their PE sponsor—about their team and anything bad that is happening in the business. I hate when they just try to ‘manage up’ or act out of fear.”

A final difference between private equity and public company CEO hiring: PE execs tend to judge very quickly—usually within nine months—whether a new hire is working out. Compared with public company directors, they are quick to engineer a failing CEO’s exit—and when they think back, they often wish they’d moved even more quickly.


Image by Tom Redfern

Topics: hiring, CEO

Economists Get It: Personality Predicts Performance

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Fri, Sep 16, 2016

Provided by Guest Blogger, Allison Howell

The financial costs of personnel decisions are well documented. For each poor hiring decision, companies can lose, on average, $25,000-$50,000 - even more if you take into account lost productivity, employee morale, and client relationships. Less well understood, however, is the economic impact of personality differences among good hires.

A newly published working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research sheds some new light on the topic. This research shows significant links between the personality of CEOs and the financial outcomes of their businesses.

The study authors, from Harvard, Stanford and the University of Chicago, used linguistic analysis, a systematic mapping of words and speaking styles, to identify scores for the Big Five personality traits for over 4500 CEOs.

The Big Five is arguably the most widely accepted taxonomy of personality traits among psychologists; it categorizes personality into degrees of agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness to experience. The linguistic analysis used in this particular study has been established as a reliable method of predicting personality.

As an example, a CEO who is high on the agreeableness scale would display speech patterns that include use of adjectives such as appreciative, considerate, gentle, and trustful. The analysis also looked at the number of words spoken, the presence of qualifiers, and other parts of speech—adverbs and conjunctions.

After the language was mapped to the personality traits, the authors examined the associations between personality traits and the CEOs’ investment and financial choices, and then looked at the connection with the overall performance of the CEOs’ firms.

In terms of the investment and financial choices, this study shows that higher levels of openness are associated with higher R&D intensity, a measure of a company’s spending toward activities aimed at expanding the sector and product knowledge. Openness was also negatively correlated with net leverage, a measure of the company’s debt load. In other words, the more open the CEO, the higher the spending on R&D activities and the lower the net leverage of the company.

Higher degrees of conscientiousness, which refers to a leader’s self-discipline, willingness to follow rules, and cautiousness, were associated with lower levels of growth. In addition, companies led by more extraverted CEOs showed lower returns on assets and lower cash flow.

Although this study warrants replication, the biggest take away is that personality does indeed influence performance - in concrete and measurable ways. Moreover, at the CEO and executive level, personality can affect the overall health of a company. In other words, personality predicts performance.

Topics: personality

Trust At First Sight

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Thu, Sep 15, 2016

Trust_THUMB_200_v3-1.jpgWhy empathy, not necessarily transparency, may be the key to making a trustworthy first impression

It’s your first day at your new job—an outside hire brought in to replace the outgoing manager at a mid-sized paper company. You’ve never met your new employees, most of whom have been working there more than a decade. How do you introduce yourself?

If your first instinct is an aggressive handshake and a no-nonsense statement of your intentions, you may want to think about it. According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy of the Harvard Business School, your new employees are subconsciously judging whether or not they can trust you based not on how competent or even transparent you seem, but by how warm and friendly you are.

“When we form a first impression of another person … we’re judging how … trustworthy the person is and trying to answer the question, ‘What are this person’s intentions toward me?’” Cuddy said in an interview with Wired.

This tendency is a legacy of our earliest ancestors.

“Ancient humans evolved as group-dwelling animals as the most effective response to the challenging environments in which our ancestors lived,” said Dave Winsborough, Hogan’s VP of Innovation and director of HoganX. “We thrived because we joined together to find food, bring down wild game, defend against attack from competing tribes, and share the burdens of child rearing.”

“Trust is … a central part of our ability to survive in complex environments,” wrote Dr. Art Markman, a professor of Psychology at the University of Texas. “When we cooperate, we're able to overcome just about any obstacle. That, of course, takes trust, not just in one another, but in the leaders who organize us.”

That need for trust carries through to modern organizations. People depend on their leaders and employers to have their best interests at heart. This view is confirmed by a large meta-analysis of personality and leader performance, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, by Dr. Jeff Foster, Hogan vice president of science, and Dr. Blaine Gaddis, senior manager of product research. Gaddis and Foster found a strong correlation between the Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) Interpersonal Sensitivity scale and ratings of trustworthiness.

Interpersonal Sensitivity describes people’s tact, perceptiveness, and their ability to form and maintain relationships. In other words, their ability to read the room and empathise with others. So, how can you seem more empathetic when you first meet someone? By making small talk, according to Cuddy.

“I think people make the mistake, especially in business settings, of thinking that everything is negotiation,” she said in Wired. “They think, ‘I better get the floor first so that I can be in charge of what happens.’ The problem with this is that you don’t make the other person feel warmth toward you. Warmth is really about making the other person feel understood. They want to know that you understand them.

“You can also establish trust by collecting information about the other person’s interests—get them to share things about themselves,” she continued. “Just making small talk helps enormously. Research proves that five minutes of chit-chat before a negotiation increases the amount of value that’s created in the negotiation.”

For more information about how to establish trust with your employees, check out our free ebook, 4 Ways to Build Trust.

Topics: trust

Rethinking Self-Awareness: Freud versus Socrates

Posted by Robert Hogan on Thu, Sep 01, 2016

Most people who are interested in helping others to improve their careers would agree that individual differences in self-awareness impact career outcomes. This talk builds on that agreement by analyzing three topics: (1) How to define self-awareness? (2) Does self-awareness matter? And (3) How to increase self-awareness?

How to Define Self-Awareness? Sigmund Freud is credited with popularizing the notion that people are unaware of the reasons for their actions. According to Freud, social behavior is driven by unconscious forces—motives and desires that are hidden from conscious awareness. Although people can provide explanations for their behavior, these explanations are rationalizations; people act for reasons they don’t understand, and then invent justifications for why they behave as they do.   Although Freud popularized the concept of the unconscious mind, Karl Marx (and later sociologists) also argued that people grow up in particular cultures and social class environments and internalize their local values, and these values subsequently control their lives in unconscious ways. So for both Freud and Marx, people are largely unaware of the reasons for their actions—and these reasons are outside their control. The existentialist philosopher J.P. Sartre contributed to the discussion of self-awareness in two interesting ways. First, he argued that the nature of reality (that our lives have no inherent meaning) is more than most people can bear, so they slide into self-deception and pretend that what they do in their everyday lives has meaning. Second, he argued that people have a moral obligation to face reality squarely—that is, Sartre argued we have a moral duty to become self-aware, to acknowledge the true meaning of what we do and why we do it. Thus, in contrast with Freud and Marx who see us as victims of our self-deception, Sartre argues that we are personally responsible for becoming self-aware.

Now we come to the point of this particular discussion. In the tradition defined by Freud, Marx, and Sartre, self-awareness concerns discovering the unconscious origins of our everyday behavior—i.e., learning why we behave as we do so that we can behave better. They also all agree that we carry out this process of self-discovery by self-reflection or introspection—we look inward and ruminate on our past actions and the possible reasons for them. The view that people achieve self-awareness through self-analysis and introspection is one of those received truths that everyone believes but that isn’t true.  

To be very clear, I am arguing that self-awareness cannot be attained by introspection, and I say this for three reasons. The first reason has to do with the nature of personality; the second reason has to do with the nature of introspection; and the third reason has to do with what Socrates knew and we have forgotten. Starting with the nature of personality, it is important to distinguish identity from reputation. Identity concerns our hopes, dreams, fears, and aspirations; identity concerns the person that we think we are; identity is personality from the actor’s perspective. On the other hand, reputation concerns how others think about and evaluate us as actors; reputation is personality from the observer’s perspective. Identity concerns the person you think you are; reputation concerns the person we think you are. There is the you that you know and there is the you that we know; I would argue that the you that you know (your identity) is hardly worth knowing—because you made it up. More importantly, 100 years of research on identity has gone nowhere. There is no taxonomy, no measurement base, and no reliable generalizations to report. On the other hand, 20 years of research on reputation has been enormously productive: there is a universally accepted taxonomy (the Five-Factor Model), a measurement base, and a vast body of findings. Finally, peoples’ reports on their identity correlate weakly with observer reports: the you that you know is not the you that we know.

Now consider the act of introspection. Who does introspection? Neurotics, psychologists, and my ex-wife. The disposition to introspection is normally distributed. At one end of the distribution are neurotics and psychologists, at the other end of the distribution are people who are incapable of introspecting. The disposition to introspection is normally distributed and being prone to introspection confers no adaptive advantage.   What do the following people have in common: Voltaire, Ulysses S. Grant, Margaret Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan? On the one hand, they are world historical figures; on the other hand, they were incapable of introspection. What can we conclude from that fact? That career success is independent of the capacity for introspection.

Finally, Socrates and the ancient Greeks famously advised “To know thyself”; they recommended self-knowledge as the key to a healthy life. But what did Socrates mean by self-knowledge? He did not mean self-awareness in the Freudian sense of discovering your inner secrets. The Greeks defined self-knowledge as being aware of your personal performance limits and understanding your strengths and shortcomings. And that kind of self-knowledge comes from experience, not introspection.

Does Self-Awareness Matter? Careers evolve during social interaction—everything consequential in careers comes out of or is based on social interactions. Life is one interaction after another, and after each interaction there is an accounting process in which people win or lose a little bit of status and win or lose a little bit of social support. Thus, status and social support are the key outcomes of social interaction. People who are able to accumulate status and social support have good careers; people who are unable to accumulate status and social support have poor careers. People with high status and no social support are at risk for betrayal or worse. People with social support and no status are usually well liked but have no power. Status itself is the result of ambition—i.e., hard work, aspirational values, persistence, and determination. In general I don’t think ambition can be trained. On the other hand, social skill crates social support; self-awareness is a crucial component of social skill; and social skill can, in principle, be trained. Thus self-awareness can be trained.

How to Increase Self-Awareness? The distinction between identity and reputation is crucial for properly understanding self-awareness. Socrates’ insight (and 100 years of research) suggests there is nothing to learn from introspection and self-analysis. But understanding how you are perceived by others (understanding your reputation) is crucial for career success. People hire you, fire you, promote you, trust you, confide in you, loan you money based on how they perceive you. This means that, in an important sense, self-knowledge is other knowledge. We need to know how others perceive us, what we are doing to create those perceptions, and what we should do to make sure our reputation is aligned with our career goals and aspirations. Observer feedback is the key to self-awareness.

Finally, any discussion of feedback should pay attention to the concept of “coachability”. Being receptive to feedback is part of personality and, by definition, there will be individual differences in receptiveness. Some people are willing to listen to feedback, internalize feedback, and try to act in accordance with feedback. Some people, because they are defensive, or arrogant, or unconcerned about improving their performance, totally resist feedback. And most people are somewhere in the middle. I am reminded of a comment by a very experienced executive coach who says the first thing he asks coaching client is to reflect on how much they bullshit themselves about how much they bullshit themselves.

A version of this article was originally published on the International Coach Federation blog.

Topics: feedback, self awareness

Hogan to Speak with Sirota at E-ATP

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Thu, Aug 25, 2016

EATP.pngHogan is pleased to announce that we are speaking at this year’s 2016 Gaining Advantage through Assessment conference hosted by the European Division of the Association of Test Publishers (E-ATP). This year’s conference, to be held 28-30 September at the Penha Longa Resort in Lisbon, Portugal, will focus on assessing and developing lifelong learners.

Don’t miss our presentation, The Dark Side of Engagement - A Better Path to Development presented by Ryan Ross of Hogan and Nick Starritt of Sirota, UK. This session will discuss why disengagement is a worldwide epidemic, why employees are disengaged, and what makes a leader engaging.

The Gaining Advantage through Assessment conference, now in its eighth year, provides a unique learning and networking opportunity for a wide cross-section of professionals working with assessments. To learn more and to register for Gaining Advantage through Assessment, visit the E-ATP website. We hope to see you there.

Topics: conference

Believe Me, Folks

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Tue, Aug 23, 2016

Build_TrustWith both candidates scoring record unfavorable ratings, the next president faces an uphill battle to earn the public’s trust in office.

“Believe me.” For anyone who’s been following the election, this is a familiar phrase. According to an article in the Boston Globe, presidential candidate Donald Trump used that phrase more than 30 times (at a rate 56 times higher than his opponents) during the Republican primary debates, and has continued to lean on it moving into the general election, even managing to pepper it into his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. Fitting, considering Politifact, a non-profit political fact checking website, rated only 14% of his claims on the campaign trail to be true or mostly true.

Hillary Clinton, for her part, isn’t doing much better. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, only 37 percent of people think of her as an honest and trustworthy person. Both candidates are entering the run-up to the general election with double-digit spreads between their favorable and unfavorable ratings. So why do we keep voting for them? Charisma.

“Charisma has long prevailed as one of the most celebrated attributes of leadership,” wrote Hogan CEO Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. “A global survey evaluating everyday perceptions of leadership across 62 countries identified ‘charismatic’ and ‘inspirational’ as two of the most recurrent attributes linked to leadership."

“Indeed, most people struggle to name a famous leader who does not exude charisma, and after decades of mass-media penetration in worlds as diverse as sports, politics, and business, we seem to have habituated to the idea that leaders are worthless without it.”

It would be hard to argue that Trump or Clinton would have gotten very far without their charismatic personalities. When we talk about charisma, what we’re really referring to the sum of four dark-side personality characteristics measured by the Hogan Development Survey (HDS):

Mischievous: Seeming charming, spontaneous, comfortable taking risks, and circumventing rules to advance their personal agendas.

Colorful: Engaging, outgoing, and skilled at taking credit for group achievements to help them stand out from their peers and get noticed.

Bold: Fearless and self-assured, skilled at overstating their strengths and downplaying their shortcomings, and ruthlessly ambitious.

Imaginative: Creative, often to the point of eccentricity, which can help an individual seem bold and innovative.

Put together, these four characteristics can help people, including political candidates, stand out from their peers and competitors and seem like natural leaders. The problem is, these characteristics also erode the trust of the people around you. And where getting to the top is all about seeming like a leader, staying at the top is all about achieving results via an engaged and effective team.

For politicians, this means an agreeable congress and an engaged public putting pressure on their representatives to vote on way or another. Even as their respective national parties rally around them for the general election, there has been plenty of news in recent days surrounding both candidate’s inability to unify support, and that difficulty is unlikely to magically subside on January 20, 2017.

To find out each candidate could turn their unfavorables around without losing the characteristics that have helped them succeed this far, download our complimentary ebook,4 Ways to Build Trust.

Topics: trust

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