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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Transformational Leadership: It’s Not What You Think

The idea of transformational leadership sounds good when taken at face value. A transformational leader is someone who instills pride, respect and trust in its followers. They inspire and motivate people beyond expectations, sparking innovation and change. And, if you look up “transformation” in the dictionary, you will see it defined as “a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.” So, what organization wouldn’t want to introduce some form of transformational leadership to respond to the disruption caused by the current digital revolution?

Although transformational leadership seems like a good idea in theory, it is nothing more than charismatic leadership with a different and more appealing name. A recent study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that there is plenty to dislike about charismatic leadership. In fact, there is little evidence to show that there is a strong correlation between charisma and effective leadership. So, because charismatic leadership and transformational leadership are essentially the same thing, it’s important to understand how this style of leadership has been so widely adopted across the globe.

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CEO Assessment and the Performance of Portfolio Companies

In the final analysis, business is about money and people. By definition, successful private equity firms understand finance, but on average they tend to be less sophisticated about people issues. This makes sense: deal partners and analysts are trained in finance and are good at spotting undervalued assets. But savvy private equity players also understand that reviving an underperforming business depends to a large degree on people issues—in particular, it depends on the leadership of the portfolio company and its working relationship with new ownership.

Considerable evidence suggests that PE firms could do a better job evaluating the ability of the leadership team in their acquired companies. A recent survey by Alix Partners found that nearly three-quarters of portfolio company CEOs are removed during the investment life cycle. Over half are replaced in the first two years; but only 15% are replaced at the outset. These data suggest that, for 4 out of the 5 replaced CEOs, the decision takes too long, thereby delaying strategic milestones and prolonging the hold time.

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Super Bowl LIII: A Lesson in Potential and Effective Leadership

In January of 2017, Les Snead, the general manager of the Los Angeles Rams, had a tough choice to make. Hired in 2013, his team had not had a winning record since 2003 and had moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles just a year earlier. Expectations in LA were high, and it was time for Snead to find a new head coach. The safe and easy choice would be a seasoned, veteran head coach who was no stranger to the biggest stage in American sports. Jon Gruden, who won a Super Bowl in 2003 (2002 season), seemed to be an obvious candidate. Or, you take a look at successful college coaches, such as Nick Saban, who has won six NCAA championships as head coach at the University of Alabama and Louisiana State University. Both of these coaches had proven records as head coaches and were realistic candidates to fill the Rams’ coaching vacancy.

Instead, Snead hired Washington Redskins Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay, who also was a former assistant wide receivers coach under Gruden in 2008. At 30 years old, McVay was the youngest coach in NFL history. The results have been tremendous. In two seasons McVay has lead the Rams to a 26-9 record (including playoff games). On February 3, just nine days after his 33rd birthday, McVay will coach his team against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

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Humility: The Cure for a Know-It-All

No one likes a know-it-all.

They’ve annoyed us all by talking down to us about anything and everything, even when it’s obvious they know far less than they believe. But know-it-alls don’t just ruin watercooler gatherings and dinner parties. When they rise to positions of power, they can wear away at productivity and trigger costly mistakes.

Joann S. Lublin wrote an entertaining article on the subject in the Wall Street Journal. She interviewed a number of self-professed former know-it-alls that caused major problems for themselves and their companies, such as losing over $2 million on a home purchase, hiring an unsuitable job candidate, and not asking subordinates for their input.

The know-it-all causes all kinds of professional headaches. They don’t try to learn about an issue or ask for help, which leads to poor decisions. They ignore some people or are condescending to others, which leads to a toxic work environment. They project a false aura of power and knowledgeability, which gets them promoted into jobs they might not actually be able to perform.

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Emergence versus Effectiveness

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. Read More »