Leadership Lessons from Muhammad Ali

Posted by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic on Tue, Jun 07, 2016

Professional sports often illustrate important psychological and life principles, even for the world of business. Traditionally, discussions on leadership tend to focus on team sports, but occasionally individual athletes emerge who can teach us a great deal about leadership, too. Here are some lessons from the extraordinary Muhammad Ali:

1) Morality is antisocial: True leadership requires vision, and vision requires the inability to accept the status-quo. In that sense, all leaders are somewhat antisocial: they reject established rules and norms and provide a different - better - perspective on reality, which is the basis for their moral code. Importantly, true leaders have the integrity to live by their beliefs even if it means upsetting authority and sacrificing personal gains; and they deal with the consequences. They show high levels of consistency between what they say and what they do, and challenge the elite with defiance. And in the end, their thoughts and ideals prevail over the old order of things. To be sure, leaders will only inspire if their vision is congruent with the beliefs and values of their followers, and in doing so they will also repel those who think and feel differently. But one thing is certain: if you don’t stand for anything, have no visible convictions, or just follow what everybody else does, you are not a leader. This is why leaders are rare not only in the world of professional sports, but also in politics and business.

2) Personality is a talent accelerator:
No matter how much talent you have, the right mindset, a serious work ethic, and a desire to strive for perfection and be the best, will enhance your talent. It is often the case that individuals with an innate predisposition to develop exceptional skills lack the grit and determination to unleash their full potential. Despite Ali’s incredible talent, he trained and worked as if he had none. From early on in his career he was the first person to arrive at the gym and the last one to leave - and he hated training. When we consider that the most effective leadership development interventions involve leaders who are already more coachable to begin with - they sign up and engage in this programs because of their higher levels of curiosity, humility, and willingness to improve - it is clear that coaching tends to help mostly those who need it the least. Conversely, those who need it the most - mediocre or inept leaders - tend to resist coaching and development because they are arrogant, complacent, or unaware of their incompetence.

3) It ain’t bragging if you can back it up:
It would be hard to call Ali modest, and fewer personality attributes are more salient in him than his self-confidence. However, it is equally naïve to think that Ali was as arrogant as his self-presentation style suggests. First, his public self-confidence was clearly a calculated attempt to entertain the media and intimidate opponents. Second, it also helped him hide any nerves or fear, both from others and himself. Third, and most importantly, unlike most self-confident and arrogant people, Ali had the goods to back it up. This point was highlighted beautifully by Barack Obama: “Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period. If you just asked him, he’d tell you. He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d ‘handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail’. But what made The Champ the greatest - what truly separated him from everyone else - is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing.” Along those lines, lay people are often quick to highlight negative personality characteristics in famous, mega-successful, leaders: e.g., Steve Jobs was emotionally volatile, Walt Disney was mean, and Henry Ford was ruthless. That may have been the case, but unlike most volatile, mean, and ruthless leaders they had the talent, work ethic, and vision to back it up. Although Ali may not have been a better boxer without his hubris, without his talents he would have looked more like Donald Trump.

This article orginally appeared in the Huffington Post.

Topics: leadership

Drinks with Hogan: How Can Hogan Help My Organization?

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Thu, Jun 02, 2016

Christopher Duffy, Global Solutions Partner, answers this question in today's Drinks with Hogan by discussing Hogan’s proprietary personality assessments, understanding and use of strategic self-awareness, the return on investment, and harnessing personality characteristics to achieve success for the individual and the organization.


Topics: Drinks with Hogan, self awareness, personality assessment

Chats from China: Hogan CEO Visits Shanghai and Beijing

Posted by Krista Pederson on Fri, May 27, 2016

Hogan CEO Tomas ChTomas1-1.pngamorro-Premuzic visited China to speak at several events in Shanghai and Beijing and highlight the shifting focus of the business world to a more Asia-Pacific driven economy. Tomas met with our three Chinese partners, Optimal Consulting, Mobley Group Pacific, and Empower Leaders Consulting to strengthen our relationship and show support for their efforts in the region. 


High Potentials and Leadership Differences across Cultures were the topics of two meetings with local CEOs. Darren Ho from Eli Lily and Leo Ding from Tairan Finance also shared case studies on how their companies use Hogan in the China markets. These successful events provided broader Hogan thought leadership concepts as well as applications of Hogan products to audiences that are new to the overall Hogan experience.

Tomas4-1.pngIn two events organized by Right Management, Tomas spoke on High Potentials in a Fast Changing Economy designed to promote their China Career Aspirations Survey. Hogan matched with each participants’ Hogan data with the survey results, and Right Management shared findings from the survey.

Finally, Tomas enjoyed some Chinese cultural activities, including a tour of the historical Sinan Mansions in Shanghai with Empower Leaders Consulting, dinner in the old hutongs of Beijing with Optimal Consulting, and even trying Haidilao, a local hotpot restaurant.

Hogan is looking forward to continued cooperation with our partners across China and the Asia-Pacific region. Keep your eyes and ears out for more events like this in the near future in Asia and beyond!

For further questions on the Asia Pacific Markets and China, please contact Krista Pederson KPederson@hoganassessments.com

Save the Date for Hogan Assessments: The Secrets of Success

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Thu, May 26, 2016


Over the past 25 years, Hogan assessments have emerged globally as the tool of reference for the selection and development of managers and executives. Today, the Hogan inventories are used internationally by companies and coaches to predict the success of their leaders. What are the secrets of success? What lessons can we learn to improve our assessment practices? And what is the future of assessment in the world? To answer these important questions, Hogan distributor MoreHuman Partners has assembled an exceptional panel and you're invited to attend.

The short story of psychometrics
Stéphane Moriou, PhD, CEO and founder of MoreHuman Partners

Lessons of a life dedicated to assessment
Robert Hogan, PhD, President and Founder of Hogan Assessments

Innovations and the future of assessment
Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic, PhD, CEO of Hogan Assessments

A Q&A session and cocktail hour will follow the presentations. There is no cost to participate in the conference but please RSVP in advance with Alla Vizerova at avizerova@morehuman.fr.

Register early as space is limited.

Drinks with Hogan: Leadership in a Team Environment

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Tue, May 24, 2016

If leadership is defined as the ability to build and maintain a high performing team, how does a leader effectively engage his or her team? Rebecca Callahan, Manager of Hogan Labs, and Amber Smittick, Corporate Solutions Consultant, discuss the tools and tactics to successful leadership in a team environment in this edition of Drinks with Hogan.


Topics: leadership, teams, Drinks with Hogan

The HPI Turns 3...Million!

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Fri, May 13, 2016

Hogan’s status as a global innovator in personality assessment is nothing new. In 1998, after administering the Hogan Personality Inventory (HPI) in more traditional formats for years, we were the first test publisher to develop a web-based assessment platform. After we fully integrated the system to score HPI results for personnel selection and employee development in 2001, our online platform became the most popular way to complete the HPI. As a result, we hit a new milestone in 2016, surpassing over 3 million HPI assessments on our core platform. Put another way, we’ve administered the HPI using just this one platform to more people than the entire population of Chicago, Illinois.

Looking Back
As the popularity of the internet and the success of our online business grew, so did HPI usage. In 2001 we used our platform to administer the HPI about 2,000 times. In 2015, that number was over 350,000. It took 9 years to cross the 1 million mark, 5 years to hit 2 million, and less than 3 years to cross 3 million.


Looking Ahead
2016 usage to date (May 1st) suggests that we will continue to surpass marks set in previous years. And at the current rate of growth, we should cross the 4 million mark sometime during the spring or summer of 2018. Furthermore, with the advent of Hogan X and our ever-growing list of clients, partners, and global distributors, we plan to hit that number even sooner.

The Bottom Line
The HPI remains the global standard for assessing personality in normal working adults. Organizations recognize this fact as evidenced by continuous demand for the HPI over the last 15 years despite national and international economic market conditions. More importantly, the demand for our flagship assessment has only increased over that time, and existing data suggest that those trends will continue in the coming years. When global organizations want to hire the right people, develop talented employees, build great leaders, and impact the bottom line, they ask for the HPI.

Topics: HPI

Drinks with Hogan | What is a high potential?

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Thu, Apr 14, 2016

In this edition of Drinks with Hogan, Managing Partner Ryan Ross explains why narrowing the definition of potential, in order to coach and develop people to a very specific thing, is necessary for success. Additionally, Ross discusses the leadership characteristics of a high potential employee.


Topics: Drinks with Hogan, high potential, high potential employees

Hogan to Speak at 31st Annual SIOP Conference

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Tue, Apr 05, 2016


I-O experts from Hogan’s Research and Consulting divisions will showcase advances in personality research during an impressive 21 sessions, symposia, panel discussions, practice forums, and poster sessions at the 31st Annual SIOP Conference in Anaheim, April 14-16.

Thursday, April 14
Digging Deeper into the Darkness: Advances in Dark Personality Research
Research on dark personality in organizations has primarily focused on outcomes. The present set of researchers move beyond basic relationships to explore the questions as to what dark personality is, why people engage in such behaviors, the processes underlying such behaviors, and whether or not they are always negative.
3:30pm, 207A

Know Your Tenant! Personality as a Predictor of Tenant Behavior
In this paper, we examined the relationship between tenant behaviors and The Big Five. Findings indicated a significant relationship between self-reported tenant behaviors and personality constructs. Specifically, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability showed significant relationships with multiple behavioral domains of tenant behavior.
4:30pm, Ballroom A-E

Friday, April 15
Assessments on the go: Designing and implementing mobile-friendly assessments
The influence of mobile devices in the assessment world making it important to understand the impact of these devices on test outcomes. This panel of scholars will discuss both the current state of designing and implementing mobile-friendly assessments as well as explore future implications of development, validation and usability.
9:00am, 303D

High-Potential Programs: Pitfalls, Precautions, and Pearls of Wisdom
Organizations have long recognized the need to identify and develop their top talent, but using assessments instead of politics to do so is a more recent development. This panel brings professionals together to explore best practices, pitfalls, precautions, and guidance for using scientifically proven assessments to drive HIPO programs.
10:30am, 303D

Feedback at Work: Bridging Science and Practice
Workplace feedback, the act of providing employees with information about their job-related potential or performance, is a common psychological intervention in talent management. The proposed panel will discuss the gap between the science and practice of feedback, and provide evidence-based recommendations for improving feedback interventions at work.
1:30pm, 303B

Job Analytic Comparisons of Managerial and Leadership Competencies
Using archival job analytic data, we compared the competencies required for effective managerial and leadership success. Results suggest that there is extensive overlap in the behaviors critical to both. However, leaders must be more strategic while managers handle the tactical operations to execute that strategy.
4:30pm, Ballroom A-E

How Well Does the Dark Triad Capture Dark Side Personality?
To understand relationships between Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy, and other dark side personality dimensions, we analyzed data from Dark Triad measures and the Hogan Development Survey. Our results suggest some overlap between scales across measures, but indicate that Dark Triad measures only assess part of the dark side personality construct space.
4:30pm, Ballroom A-E

Analytics with Assessment Data: Discovering Insights to Shape HR Strategy
Linking pre-employment assessment data to other HR programs can help ensure alignment of strategic objectives within the HR system and also discover new insights. This panel brings together internal and external consultants to discuss their experiences, insights gained, challenges, and advice on linking assessments to other HR practices.
5:00pm, 204C

Saturday, April 16
Assessment in the Digital Age: When Candidates Go Mobile
This session will discuss current issues in using mobile devices to conduct candidate assessments. We will discuss research examining demographic differences and other outcomes. We will also explore relationships between candidates’ social media usage and personality. Finally, we will explore mobile usage trends in emerging markets.
10:30am, 201D

IGNITE Your Career
Twelve early career and seasoned professionals will share their experiences and knowledge of topics important to early career I-O professionals. Each presenter will address a topic related to early career issues. The format will include 12 IGNITE speakers, interactive panel discussion, and a networking opportunity.
10:30am, 204C

Exploring the Psychometric Properties of Personality Derailment Scales
Despite an increasing interest in personality derailers, there remains little consensus over their structure and measurement. We seek to help fill this gap by presenting results from research efforts focused on measurement issues relating to personality derailers. Our focus is on the measurement and psychometric properties of derailment scales.
10:30am, 207D

Ensuring Enterprise Security: Three Diverse Approaches
This session features three distinct approaches to the topic of enterprise security and safety, considering different ways Industrial-Organizational Psychologists can contribute in this area. Topics include prediction of safety from individual and organizational perspectives, as well as developing the cyber security leadership talent pipeline.
1:30pm, 207D

Examining the Replicability of Trait-Trait Interactions in Local Validation Studies
This study examined the incremental predictive validity of trait-trait interaction terms beyond additive regression models using the Big Five personality traits for supervisor-rated job performance. Across 141 criterion validity studies including 14,744 participants, none of the 10 trait-trait interaction terms provided substantial incremental prediction of performance.
2:00pm, Ballroom A-E

Topics: SIOP

Hogan Attends ATP Conference

Posted by Krista Pederson on Tue, Mar 29, 2016

image1.jpgHogan has been an integral part of the Association of Test Publishers (ATP) since its formation. This year, five members of Hogan including Tomas Chamarro-Premuzic, CEO and Partner; Blaine Gaddis, Senior Manager of Product Research; Kimberly Nei, Manager of Client Research; Jennifer Lowe, Manager of Corporate Solutions and Krista Pederson, Director Asia Pacific Business Development, attended the 17th annual Innovations in Testing Conference held in Orlando, Florida.

The following are some highlights:

  • Tomas was a featured speaker, enlightening the crowd about talent analytics in the reputation economy.
  • Blaine led a cross-divisional panel to discuss the fine line between sufficient and excessive testing in the market; Kimberly participated as a panelist providing expertise from the I/O perspective.
  • Jennifer Lowe spoke on a panel that discussed learning how to manage mobile testing.
  • Krista participated in the Hackathon, a competition in which teams compete to develop the best concept and viable business plan around a given topic. This year’s topic was Ethics and Integrity. Krista’s team won.
  • As Chair of the I/O Division, Blaine helped to organize the division’s networking reception, where he announced and welcomed Kimberly as the division’s new Secretary.
  • As a Board Member of the ATP Asia Board and Steering Committee, Krista participated in the ATP Asia division lunch as well as an International lunch where ATP Asia Board Member Professor Zhang Houcang was honored as the “Mother of Assessment” in China.
In addition to these activities, the Hogan team attended learning sessions on various topics including:
  • Human-centered innovation
  • How to change the conversation and perception about testing in the general public
  • Item translation in target languages
  • Using HR tools across developing countries
  • Using automated video interviews for selection
  • Evaluating validation methods and answering challenging client questions on validation
  • Implications of the transition from computer to mobile and tablet-based testing
  • Emerging applications for noncognitive assessments in talent development
  • Design considerations for developing short form assessments in a digital world
Lots of learning and fun all around! If you have any questions or would like to learn any more about the above topics, please comment below!

Topics: conference

To boost engagement, leaders must learn to behave better

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Thu, Mar 24, 2016

To engage employees effectively, businesses need to understand what makes them tick, and to boost leaders’ emotional intelligence, says Professor Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

Scientific data clearly indicate that employee engagement drives organisational profitability; nonetheless, only a minority of employees in most organizations are engaged. Indeed, the evidence suggests that disengagement is not just the norm, but a worldwide epidemic.

Global surveys show that many employees dislike their jobs (Pfeffer, 2016). LinkedIn and other recruitment firms estimate that 70% of the workforce consist of passive jobseekers – people who are not actively looking for jobs, yet still hopeful for better alternatives. In the realm of relationships this would equate to 70% of married people being open to replacing their spouse. Moreover, even in economies with low unemployment such as the UK, many people are ditching traditional employment to start their own business. And while an increase in entrepreneurial activity has collective benefits, most start-ups fail, and the majority of people who switch from traditional to self-employment end up working more to earn less.

Clearly, then, disengagement is a problem, but why are so many employees disengaged? Scientific studies highlight two main reasons. First, organizations don’t understand what people really want from work; second, a substantial proportion of existing managers are incompetent leaders.

What people want from work

David Sirota, a pioneer of engagement research, notes that employees hope to fulfil three major needs at work. The first is a need for achievement—satisfied when people are given important and challenging work, and their work is recognised. The second is a need for camaraderie—met when people are able to build relationships and bond with others. The third is a need for equity—fulfilled when people think they are treated fairly.

It follows that employees will be more engaged if their accomplishments are valued by the organisation, if they can form meaningful relationships with their colleagues, and if the rules of conduct are transparent and enforced fairly. Conversely, if they feel unappreciated, isolated, or treated unfairly, they will become disengaged, alienated, and burned out.

While these needs are universal, different people may value some more than others, and these individual differences have salient career implications. For example, when employees value camaraderie over achievement, they will prioritise getting along over getting ahead. And when they care more about achievement than equity, they will tolerate unfairness as long as they can attain status.

Furthermore, the same needs may be expressed in different terms. Indeed, some people may fulfil their need for achievement through financial rewards, while other may define it in terms of recognition (e.g., promotions, publicity, and fancy job titles). Likewise, some employees may fulfil their need for camaraderie by helping their colleagues (expressing an altruistic need), whereas others may do this by partying with them (expressing a need for hedonism). Clearly, one size does not fit all — to motivate employees, organisations must learn to decode their individual values and needs at a granular level.

Incompetent leadership

Although leaders own the job of creating engaged employees, they are generally ill-prepared for the task. One reason is that the wrong people are often promote into leadership positions. Among wrong people are: those who perform well as individual contributors (because of their technical expertise) but lack the necessary people-skills to manage teams; people who are politically savvy and good at managing upwards, but too greedy to attend to their subordinates’ wellbeing; and people who are good at faking competence (i.e., seeming confident and/or taking credit for others’ achievements), but are actually talentless.

A second reason many leaders are unable to create engagement is that leadership development programmes tend to help those who need it the least: humble and self-critical leaders typically sign up for training and coaching sessions, while arrogant and self-deceived bullies are prisoners of their own self-belief.

Leading organisational psychologists, such as Robert Hogan, estimate that the baseline for managerial incompetence is at least 50%, and that may be a conservative estimate. One needs only to google “my boss is…”, “my manager is…”, or “my supervisor is…” and read the most popular auto-completion options to understand how most people regard their leaders. Unsurprisingly, research shows that most people quit their jobs because of their bosses, and that around 35% of the variability in team engagement levels can be attributed to leaders.

In order to fix their engagement problems, organisations should start by selecting and developing better leaders. Contrary to popular belief, the most engaging leaders are not confident and flamboyant (think Donald Trump); they are modest, self-aware, and empathic, meaning they have emotional intelligence. They fly under the radar while helping their teams perform; they are trustworthy and understand their limitations. In other words, the most engaging leaders are rather boring – think Angela Merkel or Tim Cook rather than Tony Blair or Steve Jobs.

More importantly, whatever their own value orientation, leaders must understand what motivates their employees. In line, to develop leaders largely requires enhancing their emotional intelligence so they can improve their ability to understand people.

At Hogan Assessments, we create scientifically defensible personality assessments to profile leaders and their teams. Our assessments don’t just predict performance – they also explain it. When leaders and teams go through them, they receive valuable information about their style, values, and limitations; this information can help leaders create engagement, and in turn, be more effective at work.

Over the past 30 years, we have assessed more than five million leaders and employees in more than 400 jobs and 50 countries. Our tools are used by 2/3 of Fortune 500 companies, as well as thousands of small businesses, to select and develop employees and leaders. You can think of us as the arms manufacturers in the war for talent: we create the “weapons” that help organisations attract the right people and develop their full potential, particularly by teaching them how to behave better.


Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is a Professor of Business Psychology at University College London, CEO of Hogan Assessments, and a Visiting Professor at Columbia University

Pfeffer, J. (2016). Leadership BS: Fixing workplaces and careers one truth at the time. Harper Business.

As originally seen in Talent Management published by Raconteur Media on March 10, 2016 in The Times.

Topics: employee engagement, engagement

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