Leading into the “New Normal”

As governments around the world are under increased demands to reopen, leaders everywhere are making decisions in the face of staggering uncertainty and conflicting information. In many ways, the decisions that first closed down businesses and quarantined cities, although certainly difficult, were much easier exercises in short-term decision making and execution than those that leaders will have to make for the longer-term journey.

And now everyone is asking, what will this “new normal” look like?

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Managerial Competencies and Organizational Levels

I was talking recently with a very smart psychologist about IBM; I noted that IBM’s stock has gone down steadily for the past six years, and he said: “IBM is well managed but poorly led.” This perceptive observation assumes that managers’ jobs change as they move from supervisor to manager to executive. I have always thought that leadership is the same at any level, but many people believe that the roles of managers, and the competencies needed to perform in those roles, change as they advance in organizations. I know little about this, so I asked Rob Kaiser and, as usual, he was helpful—in part because he organized an entire issue of The Psychologist-Manager Journal (2011, Volume 14) on this subject.

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Look for the Helpers: Humble Leadership in Times of Crisis

Many people are involved in a basketball game: A coach provides strategy, a shooting guard is agile, and a point guard assists in providing direction. In the heat of the game, the coach knows when to put in strong players, when to bench someone, and when to encourage every player to step up and give 110%. But winning does not depend on just the coach. Winning depends on each player contributing, whether by hustling down the court, putting up a three-pointer, or being in the best possible position when the game is on the line.

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Middle Managers: Your Company’s Most Important Line of Defense in Crisis

“Are we going to lose our jobs because of this coronavirus?” asked Kelly, an account executive with a tenure of 11 years.

“I — I don’t quite know,” replied Marla, Kelly’s practice manager. “The senior leadership team has said that there won’t be immediate layoffs, but we don’t know how long these shutdowns will last. Just keep working from home.”

There is no doubt that thousands of similar interactions have occurred in the past three weeks. These times are scary, and much is unknown. One thing you might not know is that the directors or senior leaders in your organization are not necessarily the glue that is keeping everyone together. It’s the middle managers.

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How Times of Crisis and Uncertainty Can Help You Spot High Potential

In any company, few things are more important than having a strong pipeline of high-performing leaders. In this new COVID-19 era, leadership teams everywhere are now faced with making critical decisions in an environment that changes hourly. Leaders from every size of organization are required to exercise judgment in unprecedented scenarios.

At Hogan, we have long researched the personality characteristics of effective leaders in the midst of high-pressure situations. We have also closely studied the identification of high-potential talent, or talent that has the ability to build and lead teams that can consistently outperform. This is a unique moment in time to identify high potentials (HIPOs) and next-generation leaders. Such moments of crisis often provide incredible opportunities for HIPOs to be identified, as the demands for high-risk and high-visibility decisions increase.

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The “Now What” in a COVID-19 World

At Hogan, we view the assessment results as the “what” (what are your strengths and areas for development?), the interpretation of your results by your Hogan coach as the “so what” (so what do these mean to me, and how do they impact my reputation and performance?), and the coaching discussion and action planning with your coach as the “now what” (now what can you do to be more effective?).

Further, we emphasize the importance of considering context in interpreting and acting on your assessment results. Consider factors such as your job requirements, the demands of your situation, the challenges you face, the business goals you need to achieve, the team you manage, and the culture of your organization. Behaviors that are strengths in one context could be derailers in another and vice versa, so context truly matters in interpreting and acting on your Hogan scores.

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What It Takes to Lead Through Organizational Crisis

On April 17, 2017, Southwest flight 1380 from New York to Dallas was in serious danger. A failed fan blade had struck the plane, creating a window-sized hole on the left side of the plane. Oxygen masks were deployed and, unsurprisingly, the passengers began to panic. Captain Tammie Jo Shults remained calm, took command of the situation, adapted to the circumstances, and safely landed the plane in Philadelphia, saving hundreds of lives. Her audio call is worth a listen. More recently, the Diamond Princess cruise ship was quarantined with more than 700 passengers testing positive for COVID-19. Captain Gennaro Arma was credited for preventing panic with his calm and reassuring leadership style. There are many examples of extraordinary leaders rising to the occasion in crisis situations. Because many organizations are currently facing the crisis caused by COVID-19, we thought it would be a good time to review what we know about organizational crisis and what makes a leader most effective during such times. Read More »

Don’t Become an Absentee Leader While Working Remotely

Even during the best of times, research shows that absentee leadership is quite common and destructive to teams and organizations. What’s an absentee leader? One who displays neither actively positive leadership nor actively negative leadership; an absentee leader seems uninvolved and uncommunicative. For leaders whose teams are all working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, the possibility of showing up as an absentee leader increases, even for leaders who typically are engaged with their teams in the office.

Employees whose leaders are absentee report less direction, delayed decisions, and a lack of feedback and involvement. Role ambiguity results, along with decreased job satisfaction, higher intentions to leave, and added conflicts with co-workers. Add to that the increased stress of the pandemic, and negative outcomes for organizations and employees could be exponentially increased.

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The Dark Side of Leadership: 11 Reasons Leaders Fail

Being awarded a leadership role within an organization may feel like an amazing accomplishment, but that is only half the battle. The second, and arguably most important half, lies in building and maintaining a highly effective team. However, according to a study conducted on UK workers, managers are failing miserably at this task, and are instead fostering feelings of hate and resentment among their workers. The survey states that while 22% of the UK public say they hate their boss, a more staggering 52% claim that their boss is their main cause of job dissatisfaction. So, where is it that managers are going wrong, and what can they do improve their employees’ perception of them? Compelling research by V. Jon Bentz – Vice President for Human Resources at Sears during the 1970s – found that managerial failure had little to do with IQ or personal attractiveness. Rather, it was linked directly to interpersonal competence. And, since personality is at the core of interpersonal competence, we can use personality assessments – such as those we have developed at Hogan – to identify the 11 personality scales that cause leaders to fail time and time again. The Hogan Development Survey, introduced in 1997 by Drs. Robert Hogan and Joyce Hogan, is the only personality assessment that identifies critical blind spots that lead to career derailment. It helps leaders by providing insights about their counterproductive tendencies – or “risk factors” – that inevitably cause managerial failure. These characteristics become heightened during times of stress, and result in poor relationships with employees and other key stakeholders. Read More »

Defining Leadership

There are numerous perspectives and fundamental disagreement about the true definition of leadership. The good news is, most definitions of leadership fit into two broad categories. On one hand, we can think of a person who has a supervisory or management title as being a leader. On the other hand, we can think of a person who supports and guides a group to work toward common goals as being a leader. The first definition is based on a person’s formal role within an organization. The second definition is based on the function the leader serves and the group’s outcome.

Most books about leadership either explicitly or implicitly define leadership in terms of who is in charge, as does much of the academic study of leadership. The assumption is that leadership is about the position rather than the person. How do you know someone is a leader? You see if they have a title that implies they are in a leadership role. How do you study leadership to understand what it is about? You find people who are in leadership positions and study what they are doing. Who writes books about leadership? People who have been in leadership positions. Whose leadership books get published? Those who have had leadership titles in companies with recognizable brands. How does one get better at leadership? They read those books. The authors must know something about leadership, because they have been in leadership positions, right?

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