Emergence versus Effectiveness

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Tue, Mar 14, 2017

There is an old adage that cream always rises to the top. In talent management, that means people who are fit to lead an organization will rise to the corner office on their own. Although many organizations operate this way, the truth is that the best leaders rarely end up in the corner office, which is probably why half of new leaders fail.

Failed leaders can cause big problems. Leaders should drive employee engagement, yet only 30% of employees are engaged, costing the U.S. economy $550 billion a year in productivity loss. Moreover, a large global survey of employee attitudes toward management suggests that a whopping 82% of people don’t trust their boss, and over 50% of employees quit their job because of their managers.

Maybe it’s because most organizations have trouble discerning between people who are natural leaders and people who just look like natural leaders. Most organizations have trouble telling key differences between leader emergence and leader effectiveness — differences between people who emerge as high-potential candidates in organizations as a function of political skill, interpersonal savvy, and effective self-promotion skills, versus those who are effective leaders capable of building high-performing organizations, cultivating talent, and leading engaged, productive teams.

Performance reviews and supervisor nominations tend to be good at identifying the people in an organization who “look” like leaders. Emergent leaders seem smart, confident, and charismatic. They’re interpersonally savvy — talented at shaking the right hands and forming the relationships and alliances they need to advance their careers — and excellent self-promoters.

These characteristics are critical to help individuals climb the corporate ladder, and people without them are unlikely to ever play the game enough to get ahead. However, these characteristics aren’t enough to succeed at the top, which is why performance appraisals and supervisor nominations don’t work and why 46% of leaders fail to meet business objectives in a new role.

Only promoting emerging leaders means you’re missing the individuals in your organization who actually have the potential to succeed as a leader — to build and maintain a team that can outperform the competition.

Unfortunately, individuals who are great at building a team, driving business results, and managing their employees aren’t always great at managing up, which is why they often go unnoticed. Researchers spent a year studying 437 managers through observations, ratings, and assessments. They found that successful managers (in terms of pay increases and promotions) spend most of their time managing up by networking and politicking, whereas effective managers (managers with loyal, engaged teams and strong results) spend most of their time guiding subordinates and driving team performance.

Critically, these two groups only overlapped about 10% of the time, which means your organization could be leaving potentially great leaders languishing in lower management positions.

Want to know more about finding the effective high-potential employees hidden in your ranks? Check out our complimentary ebook, “The Politics of Potential”.

Topics: high potential leaders, high potential, high potential employees

Charisma Is Clogging Up Your Leadership Pipeline

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Thu, Feb 02, 2017

When it comes to who we want to work for, everyone thinks they want the same thing: a charismatic leader whose engaging personality and sweeping oratory inspires his or her followers to greatness, like every coach in every sports movie ever made, ever. Including this one by Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday.

Screen Shot 2017-01-18 at 3.10.23 PM.png

“Charisma has long prevailed as one of the most celebrated attributes of leadership,” Hogan CEO Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic wrote in a post in Fast Company. “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.

For all it’s assumed importance, “There’s actually little evidence that charisma helps leaders be more effective,” Chamorro-Premuzic continued. “When leaders are charismatic but lack good judgment, vision, or the ability to build effective teams, they can be pretty destructive.”

Sound like anybody you know? If you’re like most organizations, your pipeline of high potential candidates is likely clogged with individuals matching this description. That’s because most organizations still rely on supervisor nominations (68.5%) and performance appraisals (74%) to identify potential in their talent pools. And, unfortunately, performance reviews and supervisor nominations tend to be good at identifying the people in an organization who “look” like leaders — individuals who seem smart, confident, charismatic, and who excel at self-promotion.

To be sure, these characteristics are critical to help individuals climb the corporate ladder. But they aren’t enough to succeed at the top, which is why 46% of leaders fail to meet business objectives in a new role.

How can you keep charismatic but ultimately unfit individuals out of your leadership pipeline? The reason most high potential programs struggle to produce viable high potential candidates is that they’re missing one thing: science. Hogan’s model of high potential is built on 30 years of independent research and validated on more than 21,000 global managers across every industry.

Want to know more? Check out our free ebook “The Politics of Potential” to read more about putting the Science of Personality to work in your high potential program.


Topics: leadership, high potential leaders, high potential, high potential employees, high potential program, charisma

Engaging high potential employees – it’s not as simple as it sounds

Posted by Lewis Garrad on Wed, Jan 25, 2017

6pf6daiwz48-rayi-christian-wicaksono.jpgCoaching high potential employees to find impact, challenge and meaningful relationships at work can help create stronger motivation, commitment, and retention.

If identifying high potential employees is the most important talent management challenge that companies face, it’s arguable that creating a compelling career for high potentials comes in at a close second. With so many dollars spent on programs to develop leadership succession and capability, it’s important to get a good return on your investment. Keeping top talent learning, motivated, and committed is critical to doing that. 

Many organizations understand this but the basic assumption seems to be that the expanded opportunities afforded to someone who has been identified as top talent should be enough – this most often includes increased access to senior leaders, special projects, and extra training. However, with so much passive job seeking these days (thanks to sites like LinkedIn) and an increasingly diverse workforce to deal with, leaders often find that their programs are not helping to create the “stickiness” they need. Indeed, in Sirota's own projects we find that top talent is rarely more positive about their organization than the average employee.

So how can programs be designed to boost success? Once the science of talent and personality assessments help you make good decisions about what candidates to pick, the science of engagement should help you to get them to stay. Here are three key issues that you should consider:

  • Give them the right feedback. Tagging someone as top talent usually means directing more investment and attention to them. This can be a double-edged sword as colleagues can notice the imbalance of resources that are being used for their development. Highly confident and ambitious characters, who get themselves noticed easily, might even start to act in more self-centered and entitled ways. As the fascinating research into toxic employees shows, there’s no point having a superstar if they suck performance from other members of their team. Although it’s tempting to want top talent to feel they are special, it’s rarely helpful if they start to act like it. If you want your high potentials to have productive careers then they need to learn how to get along with others, as well as get ahead in their jobs. That means ensuring they get feedback to understand the impact they have on colleagues and providing coaching to help them adapt to it. The benefit of this is that it will help to strengthen the relationships they form at work, boosting their sense of belonging.
  • Challenge them in the right way. Many high potentials are given special assignments to stretch them into new areas. This can be a great way to engage them with impactful and challenging projects. However, there is some nuance to this and research shows that while some work demands actually help to boost motivation and focus (challenges - like complex problem solving or tight deadlines), others are draining and exhausting no matter what (barriers to performance - like interpersonal conflict or highly ambiguous goals, leading to uncertainty). In a recent survey, many high potentials also said they feel significant additional pressure to get things right more often. We should remember that burnout and exhaustion is a substantial risk for high potential employees who ambitiously pursue the extra projects that they are given, while at the same time being exposed to the watchful eye of senior leaders who are constantly judging their performance. Ensuring that development programs and projects are built around the balance of resources and demands facing the participants is an important part of keeping them engaged. And remember, just because someone is able to handle a tremendous amount of pressure, that doesn’t mean they are always a good fit for more senior roles – particularly if they need to be able to empathize with overwhelmed subordinates.
  • Meaning and purpose. Although it has become rather cliché to talk about the importance of meaning and impact in the workplace, there should be no doubt that it makes a difference. People will often use the pursuit of higher-level purpose or vision to buffer against the shorter-term impact of stressful or boring work on their motivation. So, while many high potential programs might emphasize the increased influence, development, and even reward that high potentials have access to, it’s important that a clear connection is also made to achieving a broader career impact and purpose. This means ensuring that leaders and managers understand that their role in developing top talent isn’t only to talk to them about their performance, but also to help them think through their development toward their broader career goals.

While the additional investment that high potential employees receive is a privilege, the market for talented individuals means that competition is fierce. Helping high potentials to design their careers in a way that brings stronger impact, rewarding challenges, and better relationships can help boost engagement and retention.

To learn more about how the personality of high potential employees influences engagement of team members, check out The Engaging Leader.

Lewis Garrad, a chartered organizational psychologist, is the Growth Markets leader at Mercer|Sirota. He specializes in the design and deployment of employee attitude research programs, feedback interventions, and talent strategy. Follow him on Twitter.

Topics: leadership, high potential leaders, talent management, engagement, high potential, high potential employees, high potentials, high potential program, talent

Potential Is Not Performance

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Wed, Jan 18, 2017

Identifying and developing high potentials — employees ready to take the leadership reins when someone gets promoted, steps down, or gets fired — is the single greatest talent management challenge organizations face today. The problem is, most organizations are really, really bad at it. Practitioners rate themselves as effective at identifying high potentials only about 50% of the time. That means many high-potential identification systems in place today could achieve the same level of accuracy by flipping a coin.

If your organization is like most, its high-potential identification program focuses — sometimes exclusively — on current performance. A recent survey found 74% of companies identify high-potential employees based on performance appraisals, and 68.5% based on recommendations from management. A separate study by Corporate Research Forum estimated that 73% of organizations currently identifying high potentials using one single data point — a rating or nomination by the individual’s direct supervisor.

“This is problematic for two reasons,” Hogan CEO Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic wrote in a post for Forbes. “First, organizations are not very good at measuring performance (once you eliminate subjective ratings, there are very few reliable metrics left). Second, even when they measure performance well, many top performers will fail to perform well at the next level.”

Performance measures tend to be subjective and biased by politics. Performance appraisals often reflect how much supervisors like their employees, and over-inflate ratings of actual job performance. As a result, individuals designated as high performers are often actually the best politicians, or what we call emergent leaders — the people who are great at building relationships, exerting social influence, and standing out enough to get ahead. The problem is that the qualities it takes to climb the corporate ladder aren’t enough to be effective as a leader.

Second, organizations tend to overestimate current performance as a predictor of future potential. The idea of leaning on performance reviews is that the best predictor of future performance is past performance. But as ClearCompany Co-founder Andre Lavoie points out in an article on Entrepreneur, although all high-potential employees are high performers, not all high-performing employees are high potentials. Research shows that only 30% of current high performers are actually high-potential employees, and most employees (more than 90%) would have trouble at the next level.

“When you transition employees from individual contributors to managers, or from managers to leaders, the pivotal qualities or competencies that drive high performance change,” Chamorro-Premuzic wrote. “Furthermore, many strong individual contributors are not even interested in managing or leading others, preferring instead to focus on independent problem-solving or being a team-player. The result is a paradoxical system that removes people from a job they are rather good at, and re-positions them in a role they are neither able nor willing to do.”

At the very least, wrongly designating a high performer as a high potential means you lose an excellent individual contributor. More than half of high-potential employees drop out of development programs or leave their employer within five years, and studies estimate losing a high-potential employee costs the organization 3.5 times his or her annual compensation.

At worst, promoting the wrong people can cause major engagement problems within your organization. Leadership directly impacts employee engagement. Good leadership creates engaged employees; bad leadership leaves employees alienated and demoralized. Engaged employees are energized, proud, enthusiastic, and have positive attitudes at work. Companies whose employees are engaged show higher returns on assets, are more profitable, and yield nearly twice the value to their shareholders compared to companies characterized by low employee engagement. Disengagement, on the other hand, results in an estimated $550 billion in lost productivity in the U.S. each year.

Put simply, performance is what you do. Potential is what you could do. Until organizations learn to differentiate between the two, it’s unlikely their success identifying high potential individuals will improve.

Want to know more about how to tell potential from performance? Check out our ebook, The Politics of Potential.

Topics: high potential leaders, performance, high potential, high potential employees, high potentials, high potential program, talent

Want to Learn More About High Potentials? We've Got You Covered.

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Thu, Jan 12, 2017

Leading up to the launch of the Hogan High Potential Talent Report, our CEO, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, authored numerous articles addressing human potential and how to assess it. Writing for Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes, and others, here’s a comprehensive list of Tomas’s articles on the subject.

Fast Company -- Tapping the Potential of Your Company's Hidden Superstars

Summary: Despite all the talk about the war for talent, most organizations already have the supply of talent they need. The problem is, many employers are unable to either identify or engage those high-potential individuals.

Harvard Business Review -- Strengths-Based Coaching Can Actually Weaken You

Summary: Although there are no reasons to expect the fascination with strengths-based coaching to wane any time soon, organizations – and people – would be better off it did. This article outlines five reasons to be skeptical of a leadership development approach that focuses only on strengths.

Fast Company -- How to Get Your Employer to Finally Recognize Your Potential

Summary: It’s the job of every manager to size up their team members and evaluate their potential. That means understanding not just their current talents, but also their likelihood of developing them for higher-impact roles.

Management Today -- 5 Tips for Assessing Employee Potential

Summary: In an ideal world, your pipeline would be brimming with future high fliers, who will one day push your organization to new heights. Unfortunately, life’s rarely that kind. Here are five tips to help you find and develop your future stars.

Harvard Business Review -- What Science Tells Us About Leadership Potential    

Summary: Although the scientific study of leadership is well established, its key discoveries are unfamiliar to most people, including an alarmingly large proportion of those in charge of evaluating and selecting leaders.

Huffington Post -- Why Many Companies Are Failing to Unlock Their Future Leaders' Potential

Summary: It’s unsurprising that organizations devote an increasing amount of time and resources to the identification and development of future leaders. This explains the recent proliferation of interventions targeting HIPOs: the individuals who show the biggest promise for leading the organization in the future.

Forbes -- Four Things You Probably Didn't Know About High Potential Employees

Summary: There are four common mistakes organizations tend to make in their HIPO programs, namely mistaking performance for potential, and emergence for effectiveness; undermining the importance of development, and ignoring the dark side of personality.

Fast Company -- Three Reasons Why You Aren't Reaching Your Full Potential

Summary: “Inborn talent” is something of an oxymoron. Nobody is born with talent, as we typically understand the term, and we all differ in our potential to develop the skills and attributes that later lead others to call us talented. So why are some people better at developing their potential than others?

Fast Company -- What You Think Makes a Good Leader Probably Doesn't

Summary: We may think we know what qualities we value in those who lead us – and why – but companies and entire countries keep pushing less than stellar leaders into positions of power. How come? 

Fast Company -- The Often Overlooked Aspect of Getting Ahead at Work

Summary: Managing the tension between getting along and getting ahead is particularly important if you have leadership aspirations. Psychologist Robert Hogan defined leadership as “getting along to get ahead,” and he put forward a Darwinian framework for understanding why some people are more successful than others.

Fast Company -- How We Can See Past the Allure of Charismatic Leaders

Summary: 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. Yet there’s actually little evidence that charisma helps leaders be more effective. In fact, it often has the reverse effect.

Fast Company -- How to Turn Your Personality into You Career Advantage

Summary: With a bit of self-awareness – understanding how you differ from others and especially what others think of you – you can turn your personality from a heavy roadblock to a killer career weapon.

Harvard Business Review -- Talent Matters Even More than People Think

Summary: Clearly, some people are both talented and hard-working, but there is often a tension between the two. Talent can make people lazy because they need to rely less on hard work to achieve the same goal. Hard work helps people compensate for lower levels of talent, which is why it’s quite helpful to be aware of one’s limitations. But how much does talent really matter?

Management Today -- Do Nice Managers Finish Last?

Summary: In the corporate world, most organizations seem to have developed – involuntarily, of course – quite effective mechanisms for stopping nice employees from advancing to management positions.

Forbes -- Can Human Potential Be Measured? A Psychological View

Summary: The idea that science can be used to quantify our future performance is unpopular. The main reason is that it tastes of determinism and questions the strong lay conviction that we are completely free to decide our destiny, a conviction that is obviously irrational.

For more information about the Hogan High Potential Talent Report, visit hoganhipo.com.

Topics: high potential leaders, high potential, high potential employees, high potentials, high potential program

Hogan Releases High Potential Talent Report

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Tue, Jan 10, 2017


We’re excited to announce the launch of the Hogan High Potential (HIPO) Talent Report, a new product that simplifies the way organizations evaluate and develop talented people. The comprehensive report makes it easier to make informed talent decisions, groom and develop employee leadership competencies, and achieve positive business outcomes.

Most organizations make it a top priority to identify, develop and prepare successful leaders for roles with expanded scope and responsibility. However, organizations large and small have struggled to find an accurate, useful and sustainable way to develop the leaders with the highest potential for future success.

“One of the main reasons high potential programs fail is that they focus too much on performance, which organizations are historically poor at measuring,” says Hogan CEO Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. “And, even if organizations do measure performance well, many top performers will fail to perform well at the next level. So it’s important to focus less on performance, which is what you have done in the past, and more on potential, which is what you will probably do in the future.”

The Hogan model identifies and defines three elements that are important for HIPO success. The first, leadership foundation, describes the degree to which individuals are able to effectively manage their career, how rewarding they are to deal with, and how strong they are as organizational citizens. The second, leadership emergence, predicts the likelihood that someone will be noticed in the organization, emerge and be labeled as a leader. The third, leadership effectiveness, predicts one’s ability to lead teams successfully toward productive outcomes.

All three components of the Hogan HIPO model are strongly linked to personality. The new report identifies strengths and gaps related to each of these critical elements, and suggests specific, targeted developmental actions to address them.

“Potential is not solely based on the absolute value of your skills and abilities – it is powerfully influenced by the extent to which others perceive you as a leader,” says Chamorro-Premuzic. “Effective leaders are able to attract, retain and develop strong talent, achieve business goals, secure resources and remove barriers to success. This new report can accurately assess leadership potential at all levels regardless of the size and scope of the organization.”

For more information about the Hogan HIPO Talent Report, visit hoganhipo.com.


Topics: high potential leaders, high potential, high potential employees, high potential program

Bridging the Gap from Potential to Performance

Posted by Hogan Assessments on Wed, Jul 18, 2012

PotentialStrong leadership is a crucial ingredient for a successful company. With highly qualified people at the top, the entire organization is more likely to outperform the competition and hold on to their most talented employees. Yet, many organizations lack a tried-and-true method for identifying and developing those employees who show leadership potential.

Current processes for identifying high-potential internal talent are often marred by bias and politics and rely on past performance as the main indicator of future performance. Such strategies reward bold, attention-grabbing behaviors that may be attractive in junior employees but become counterproductive at the upper levels.

As several recent high-profile stories suggest, companies don’t have much luck when hiring external C-level candidates either. Studies show that more than half of outside hires fail, many within the first 18 months on the job. As they are unfamiliar with the business, employees, culture, and unique challenges, it is no wonder why many external hires struggle to find success.

However, when hiring managers use the empirical data provided by personality assessment, rather than gut reactions influenced by politics or initial reactions in interviews, they can develop high-potential programs that ensure a stable of promising leaders. By using assessments, managers gain key insight into their high-potential employees in the following areas:

  • Bright-side personality – the everyday personality that determines leadership style, judgment, and ability to get along and get ahead
  • Dark-side personality – also called derailment personality, this consists of characteristics that under stress or boredom can become debilitating career derailers
  • Values – the drivers, beliefs and interests that determine what candidates are willing to work for and in what type of job, position, and organizational culture they are likely to feel most satisfied
  • Cognitive ability – a measure of candidates’ ability to think tactically and strategically

When personality assessments are at the center of a high-potential program, organizations have an empirical basis for identifying, selecting, and developing the next generation of leaders.

To learn more about how personality assessment can be used to identify, develop, and retain future leaders, download our complimentary white paper, From Potential to Performance.

Topics: leadership, hiring, high potential leaders

Chasing Shadows to the C Suite

Posted by Jennifer Lowe on Tue, Nov 01, 2011

At the recent Conference Board in Chicago, a number of talent management professionals and consulting experts gave presentations on next-generation leadership. These discussions included a variety of topics, from recruiting generation Y and Millennial employees to social networking and overcoming the talent management gap as Baby Boomers retire. The common thread in these topics there were three recurrent questions 1) how do we develop next generation high potentials for senior leadership roles, 2) do we tell them they are high potentials, and 3) how will this impact their ability to be authentic leaders?

The general consensus from the Conference Board attendees was that telling these individuals was important for a number of reasons. Mostly, formal identification of high potentials allows employees to opt out of these programs if they are not interested. For those who are interested, formal identification may increase commitment to such programs. One of the concerns with telling these individuals they have been identified as the future of the organization is that they may lose sight of what they need to do from a development perspective today to ensure success once appointed to these senior leadership roles. Additionally, there is a concern about the ability of these individuals to be authentic leaders.

Last week my colleague Jackie VanBroekhoven wrote about the shadows leaders cast. These shadows begin developing early in our careers, and without careful attention and behavior modification they may supersede our successful initiatives and bottom line results. When reflecting on the Conference Board dialogue about high potential identification, the importance of shadow management could not be truer. In addition to committing to development programs these high potentials also need to commit to self-development and shadow awareness.

The current political environment is a great place to observe the consequences of our shadows in action. As we prepare for the 2012 election year the speeches and promises for change are in full force. Regardless of your political views, you are likely to observe politicians leveraging their confidence, charisma, and innovative ideas to change the current economy to get your vote. The question of authenticity comes into play when it is time to put these plans into action. Take Rick Perry’s current proposal of a flat tax plan. Is this the new financial strategy to save the US from the current debt crisis or is it simply a political message to take interest off his poking fun of President Obama’s birth certificate situation? What sort of shadow does Governor Perry cast and will this shadow impact his success in the upcoming election?

These leadership shadows are much easier to identify when people are in the public eye. Politicians, CEOs, and other public figures likely have these shadows following them quite literally when paparazzi are lurking in the bushes and standing in their driveways.

Public figures aside, have you ever thought about the shadow you cast? If others were to describe you when you weren’t around what would they say? Are you confident engaging and charming or arrogant socially dominant and risk taking? In addition to self-awareness and behavior change we all need to be mindful of these looming success killers or shadows that may negatively impact our reputation.

This topic of shadow awareness is particularly salient in the current workforce. Although organizations may not be identifying the next CEO or United States President in their current high potential programs, they are indentifying the next generation of leaders who may be tasked with ascending the ranks of the organization faster than their predecessors. That being said, these programs need to focus on developing the skills and behaviors for leadership, but also challenging these individuals to think about the legacy they want to leave behind and figuring out whether you’re afraid of your shadow is a great place to start!

Topics: leadership, high potential leaders, self awareness

Streaming Leadership Derailment

Posted by Adam Vassar on Wed, Sep 28, 2011

I’m a big movie buff. Since I have young children I rarely get a chance to go the movie theaters anymore to see a film that doesn’t star Woody, Buzz, Lightning McQueen, or a princess of some type. In my 5+ years of fatherhood, Netflix has become a savior in terms of feeding my movie addiction. For me and 20 million other subscribers, seeing that a new movie is available for streaming online or getting that red envelope in the mail is one of life’s simple joys.

The joy of being a Netflix customer was mightily shaken last July when customers received a brisk, impersonal email informing them that the video subscription service pricing would be increased by as much as 60% per month unless subscribers decided to substantially limit the services they were receiving. In essence, customers were abruptly told that they would no longer be able to enjoy both the streaming movies and DVD-by-mail features. They would be required to choose one type of service otherwise incur the price hike to retain both options.

Netflix customers were outraged by this imposed price increase and/or elimination of service options. This outrage was not only communicated via blogs and Facebook posts. Many customers have truly put their money where their mouth is by canceling their subscriptions. The company’s stock price is now 42% lower than it was in July before the price hike announcement. An organization that by all accounts changed the video rental industry and was experiencing a fantastic upward trajectory envied by the business world has taken a serious turn for the worse. How did this happen?

The recent events at Netflix appear to be yet another unfortunate example of leadership derailment. The company’s decision to increase prices and the manner in which they communicated the changes to customers has been perceived by many as a bold and arrogant move. In September, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings issued a statement apologizing to customers. However, it is possible that some may view his apology as too little, too late. Even after the initial customer backlash, Netflix at first confidently defended their decision and even announced in August that they expected to gain 400,000 subscribers by the end of September. Recently, Netflix has projected that it will have actually lost 600,000 customers by the end of September. In other bad news, Starz, a key movie content partner for Netflix, ended its partnership with the organization. The company has decided to rebrand their DVD-by-mail service as a separate company called Qwikster. The effectiveness of this strategy is being questioned by many and could further stoke the flames of the fire started earlier this summer.

Two months after the initial controversy, Reed Hastings’ blog post apology stated that the July announcement “lacked respect and humility” and indicated that he should have personally communicated in more detail the reasons for the changes. He went on to say, “In hindsight, I slid into arrogance based upon past success.” Hastings ends his statement by saying that he and his team will work hard to regain customers’ trust. Interestingly enough, his actions and choice of terminology strongly parallel the leadership derailment research findings of Hogan Assessment Systems.

High potential leaders assessed by Hogan tend to be seen as confident, assertive, ambitious, and visionary. Some of these very characteristics are likely present in the senior leadership team at Netflix and surely contributed significantly to the company’s hugely successful rise. However, during stress or heavy workloads, when leaders aren’t paying attention, or during times of change, this confident style may emerge as counterproductive behaviors viewed by others as arrogant, lacking humility, setting unrealistic expectations, and ignoring negative feedback. In his own words, Hastings acknowledged a very similar behavioral pattern. Furthermore, derailing behaviors related to arrogance often lead to the inability of leaders to be seen as trustworthy and sincere, hence Hastings’ comment that Netflix is now committed to regaining customer trust.

Leaders that allow their natural confidence to descend into arrogance rarely admit when they are wrong, learn from mistakes, or take responsibility when things go wrong. This recent statement by the CEO appears to potentially demonstrate a realization that a mistake was made and a willingness to take ownership of the misstep…however the pricing increase was not rescinded and only the poor communication of the policy change was addressed. Will the apology and Qwikster rebranding strategy be effective in retaining customers and attracting new subscribers? Can Netflix and its leaders get back on track after derailing so drastically? Stay tuned!

Topics: leadership, high potential leaders, leadership derailment

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