How to Destroy a Commercial Icon

Sears Blog PhotoLeadership is one of the most important topics in human affairs. When good leaders are in place, institutions and their incumbents thrive; when bad leaders are in place, institutions fail and the incumbents suffer accordingly. The core task of leadership is to build high performing teams; leader behaviors that disrupt this process inevitably lead to failed enterprises. The data show that four leader behaviors are key to building a team or successful collective effort:

– Integrity: Leaders must be trustworthy. Subordinates need to know that leaders keep their word, don’t exploit resources, don’t play favorites, and treat their staff with respect. The dark-side tendencies that lead to managerial derailment mostly concern leader unpredictability, which erodes trust.

– Competence: Leaders need to understand the business at the level of the shop floor. This is easy when leaders come up through the ranks (e.g., in the military). But beginning sometime in the 1970s, the idea took hold that there are formal principles of business (which can be learned in MBA programs) that apply universally, and that if one understands these principles, then one doesn’t need to master the details of the business at a more granular level. I believe this view is dangerously wrong, and it almost guarantees managerial failure.

– Judgment: Judgment has to do with the quality of a leader’s decision making, and that, in turn concerns being able to recognize when they have made bad decisions and then changing them. Bad leaders, when confronted with evidence that their decisions were wrong, tend to double down—e.g., send more troops to Iraq.

-Vision: Making a case for the importance of what the group is doing. As Peter Drucker noted, if the only reason you are in business is to make money, then you should quit. Greed is not an appealing vision for many people.

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What the Amazon Blunder Teaches Us About Big Data

Untitled-1In this era of Big Data, simply producing or collecting nearly unfathomable amounts of data isn’t enough. The best companies are able to sift through that data to find meaningful trends and, ultimately, specific information that sparks a plan of action.

In the rush to harness that data for job selection, numerous companies are turning to experimental AI and machine learning to discover new forms of data collection and new types of analysis human beings might not be capable of. But not all new methods of data collection are created equal. If set up incorrectly, AI data analysis can go horribly wrong – just ask Amazon.

The Internet giant decided to harness its computing power and expertise to create a job screening program that would scan an applicant’s resume and determine if an applicant is suitable. A person familiar with the effort told Reuters the goal was for the program to receive 100 resumes and spit out the top five.

In order to teach this program how to screen candidates, it was fed resumes submitted tothe company over the last decade. In theory, the program would learn what resume terms lead to successful candidates and which terms lead to rejection. In reality, the program learned to reject female candidates.

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In the Era of “Fake News,” It’s Hard to Know What, or Who, to Really Believe

Untitled-1Today, amateur and professional trolls work to stir up arguments and divisiveness. Casual social media discussions frequently devolve into arguments with all kinds of questionable bits of information casually thrown around like wadded-up paper balls. Did the Pope really endorse Donald Trump? Is Kid Rock really running for Senate? Time to run to a fact-checking website – but how many people will trust what they say?

It’s enough to turn anyone into a skeptic. And our research on global personality trends shows more people are becoming skeptical, largely due to this contentious atmosphere. As you can see on the graph, average skepticism scores from the Hogan Development Survey have steadily increased nearly every year since 2002. On the other side of the coin, our research team noted skepticism was much lower in 2001 and 2002, potentially due to recent events such as the 9-11 terrorist attack that had an impact on people around the globe. It is possible that, on average, the trauma of the event caused people to become more supportive of their government, at least temporarily.

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What Can a Rugby Team Teach Us About Humility?

All Blacks*This post was authored by Hogan’s Michael Tapia, Dena Rhodes, and Ryne Sherman.

The New Zealand All Blacks is one of the most successful sports organizations of all time. For over a century they dominated the world stage as a premier member of the international rugby union, competing with such foes as the South Africa Springboks and Australia Wallabies. In 2015, the All Blacks became the repeat champions of the quadrennial Rugby World Cup (2011 and 2015). Even more astonishing, the success of New Zealand Rugby persists across squads. New Zealand’s women’s (Black Ferns) and men’s (All Blacks) Rugby Sevens teams both won the 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup held in San Francisco.

The achievements of the All Blacks have yielded global recognition and a collection of media projects exploring the methods behind their success. This includes the documentary All or Nothing and James Kerr’s book, Legacy. Kerr spent time with the team and learned about their unique culture, which he believed was essential to their dominance. According to Kerr, the key to this team’s culture is dedication to character, and “character begins with Humility.”

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A Q&A on Humility

Humility FAQ Social GraphicWe continue to emphasize the importance of humility and effective leadership at Hogan in 2018, as evidenced by this article in The Wall Street Journal last week. Because this has been such a hot topic for us, it has also generated a lot of questions from those within our network and beyond. To address these inquiries, the Hogan Research Division developed the following FAQ:

Q: Is humility comprised of low Recognition, Bold, Leisurely, Power, and Hedonism?

A: Although humility has moderate, negative relationships to Recognition, Bold, Leisurely, Power, and Hedonism (respectively), it is not a composite of these five scales. The humility scale consists of 20 items, 15 of which are brand new. The remaining 5 items come from Bold (Overconfidence subscale) and Recognition (Aversions subscale).

Q: Are humble leaders weak leaders? Will they be pushovers in the workplace?

A: Humble leadership should not be confused with weak leadership. For instance, humble leaders may listen to others and consider alternate viewpoints, resulting in a more beneficial decision. Humble leaders can (and should) demonstrate confidence, show assertiveness, and set forth a clear vision for the organization.

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Don’t Try to Be the “Fun Boss” — and Other Lessons in Ethical Leadership

KDNEI*This article was written by Kimberly Nei and Darin Nei, and was originally published by Harvard Business Review on September 10, 2018.

Just becoming a leader is enough to exacerbate some people’s unethical tendencies. But power does not corrupt everyone. Our research suggests that key personality characteristics predict unethical leadership behavior.

We collected personality data and supervisor ratings of ethical behavior (e.g., integrity, accountability) on 3,500 leaders across 30 organizations we had worked with. The organizations included in our study were largely multinational, represented several industries, and varied in size from medium to large. We combined data across these 30 independent studies to examine the relationship between personality and ethical leadership across a range of different settings and situations. We found that characteristics related to certain traits have stronger relationships with unethical behavior.

So, what should today’s leaders do to build trust with their teams and the public? Here are a few tips, based on our findings:

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IAssessment to Host Event on Safety Featuring Ryan Ross and Zsolt Feher


Every year, accidents at work cause unnecessary human tragedies and have serious financial consequences for companies. For decades, organizations have been investing, with good results, in three of the pillars of safety: laws, regulations and procedures; equipment, and training. However, these accidents still happen.

Why is that? What more can companies do to determine and minimize the possibility of these accidents? The answer is the fourth pillar: personality.

Regardless of the industry in which you work – factories, mining, oil, gas, transportation, telecommunications, systems, or banking – there are several security risks that you should consider within your organization, from the simplest drops to security breaches, problems with energy sources, or the hauling of goods.

On October 25 in Madrid, Hogan’s Ryan Ross, Zsolt Feher, and IAssessment Managing Director Juan Antonio Calles will be presenting on the topic of safety to help the audience gain useful and reliable knowledge on how determine safety-related behaviors within organizations.

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PCL to Host Dysfunctional Leadership Conference on November 14 in London

Untitled-1*This post was authored by Gillian Hyde, Director at Psychological Consultancy Ltd.

Destructive leadership can take many forms, from the specific counterproductive tendencies associated with an individual’s dark side profile to a simple failure to take on the responsibilities of a leader.

Register for the Dysfunctional Leadership Conference to hear these themes explored by experts in assessment, psychology and executive coaching.  


Leadership effectiveness is often seen as an elusive, undefinable quality – something only a few will ever achieve. Dysfunctional leadership, on the other hand, is pervasive and a routine part of many people’s everyday working lives.

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Robert Hogan and Ryne Sherman to Speak in Mexico City on October 16

HRToolsHRTools, Hogan’s premier distributor in Mexico, is hosting a breakfast event on October 16 in Mexico City featuring Dr. Robert Hogan and Dr. Ryne Sherman as speakers.

Dr. Hogan’s presentation will cover the topic of humility and effective leadership. When organizations search for new leaders, they consciously or unconsciously look for candidates with charisma. However, a robust new line of research on leadership shows that charisma degrades leadership and often creates long-term chaos and ruin within organizations. In contrast with charismatic leaders, humble leaders admit their mistakes, listen to feedback, and solicit input from knowledgeable subordinates, and this creates an environment of continuous improvement.

Here is a brief preview of the presentation from Dr. Hogan:

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WEBINAR: Leaders Are People, Too (*GULP*)

Untitled-1*Hogan Senior Strategist, Michael Sanger, facilitated a webinar hosted by Workforce on Tuesday, September 18. This post offers you a summary of the talk and the presentation in its entirety. 

Personality determines the way we lead. The way we lead determines our teams’ performance. And a successful organization is a collection of high performing teams that act in concert. Seems simple enough. So what’s the problem? In a word…humans.

Effective leaders, just like other working adults, are a bunch of grown-up children, only one or two DNA percentage points apart from Chimpanzees. So what differentiates these hominids from the rest of the pack? How are they able to navigate our complex matrices more adeptly than the rest, whilst consistently delivering results? Believe it or not, the prerequisites for advancement in a hierarchy haven’t changed all that much over the last million years (give or take a couple of hundred thousand).

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