High Stakes Hiring

Like many people, my coworker is afraid of flying. We encourage him to take sleeping pills and try to distract him with entertaining stories during takeoff, but despite our best efforts, he usually remains anxious throughout the flight.

Because of his fear, my coworker is drawn to news stories about plane crashes and equipment malfunctions, and shares them with us as proof that his fear is legitimate. And there have been many headlines about pilot error leading to tragedy; in early 2009, a commuter plane crashed into a New York house after the pilots were mindlessly chatting and then panicked when they realized the aircraft was in trouble. More recently, a Russian passenger airplane missed the runway and crashed because the navigator was drunk.

Given all of the doom and gloom in the headlines, it’s refreshing to hear about pilots who do things right. For example, in 2009, US Airways flight 1549 famously crash-landed into the Hudson River after striking a flock of geese during takeoff. The pilot, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, was described as “cool, calm and collected” as he maneuvered the plane into a safe landing position. Because of Sully’s focus and composure, a tragic accident was averted and all 155 people onboard survived.

Earlier this month, pilot Tadeusz Wrona safely crash-landed a passenger plane in Warsaw’s main airport after the landing gear failed to deploy. Luckily, all 230 passengers and crew members survived the belly-landing. Wrona and his crew remained vigilant and focused during the flight, immediately taking notice when the landing gear failed to open on the second attempt. After identifying the problem, the crew began to review belly-landing training guidelines while flight attendants explained emergency landing procedures to passengers. The flight crew remained calm and steady during the perilous situation, preventing hysteria from breaking out in the cabin.

When reading news stories like these, you realize the importance of the pilot’s training, skills, and personality when you board any airplane. From unsuccessful crash-landings to heroic ones, pilots’ behavior greatly affects passengers, crew members, the airline industry, and the general public (not to mention my co-worker). As such, organizations must take great care when hiring for jobs like pilots where the consequences of an unsafe decision can mean life or death.

Movember: A Proud 30 Days with a Prostache

  November 1 was the official kick off to the month of Movember. For those unaware of the meaning behind this portmanteau, simply substitute the popular abbreviation for moustache “Mo”, with the first two letters of November. Some of you may already be familiar with Movember’s distant November facial hair movement “No-Shave November.” However, there are several distinct differences worth noting which make Movember (aka: Novembeard) a much worthier contender of your attention. On a facial hair spectrum, Movember is exclusively reserved for the moustache. But, ultimately, what lies behind the scenes of Movember are truly altruistic efforts through charity for cancer research and men’s health awareness. Read More »

Scouting Out Future Leaders

Goal setting; sound decision making; problem solving; networking, embracing diversity…these factors have more in common than their presence across worldwide competency models. The preceding competencies are some of the many skills acquired by a girl scout. As many may be aware, Girl Scouts of America is dedicated to the development and empowerment of girls through experiences, friendships, and learning opportunities. Although I’m fairly familiar with the organization — I was a brownie myself and my Aunt recently retired from her position as CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma — after further research, I was impressed to learn about the organization’s continual improvement efforts. Since its inception almost 100 years ago, the organization has progressed in conjunction with the issues facing young girls and with the evolution of women in business and leadership.Last week, Fast Company released an article about the addition of an innovation component as part of the Girl Scouts’ curriculum. Young girls will be introduced to fields like web design and product development, and will work to obtain such honors as the “inventor” and “social innovation” badges. In today’s business environment, innovation is a key component of successful leadership. By providing these skills, the Girl Scouts are working to build strong female leaders for the future. Beyond innovation, the Girl Scouts are offering programs focused on financial management, including “good credit,” “money manager,” and “budgeting” badges.The new badges are among 136 unveiled in the Girl Scouts’ first program redesign in 25 years, the result of a years-long process in which scouts themselves laid out a list of skills they would like to learn. If it’s any indication how much things have changed, nearly 100 years ago, girl scouts were working toward “telegrapher” and “matron housekeeper” badges.There’s something to be said about the balance maintained by the Girl Scouts. It’s essential for the organization to maintain the fun and flare that’s always been associated with being a Girl Scout, but also to remain forward-thinking and relevant. After reading about the organization’s program redesign, I was pleased to learn that such a balance is being achieved. Young girls will continue to enjoy Girl Scout traditions such as cookie sales, camping, and field trips, yet through these new programs, will become stronger students, community contributors, and eventually, leaders. 

Chasing Shadows to the C Suite

  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? Read More »

Chasing Your Shadow: Leadership Brand and Derailment

I recently listened to a talk given by Greg Barnett, one of Hogan’s veteran consultants and our Director of Product Development, about the importance of defining a strong leadership brand. The concept of an individual leadership brand departs from our conventional understanding of branding from an organizational standpoint. For example, consider the brand that Apple computers has created; the exemplars of innovation, elegant simplicity, and sleek, modern, technology. Now consider the individual leadership brand that Steve Jobs created – in many ways, his personality embodies many of the same qualities of Apple’s brand – Jobs is hailed as an innovative, creative genius who changed the world with his brilliance and innovation. Even his physical image aligned with Apple’s brand – sleek, simple, and timeless with a modern slant.

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Self-Deception and Evolutionary Theory

I have been interested in the problem of self-deception (doing things for reasons that we don’t properly understand or acknowledge) my entire adult life. Writers as diverse as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and JP Sartre thought self-deception was the primary source of human misery. They also argued that people should try to overcome their self-deception for moral reasons – self-deception is the cause of most bad behavior. In everyday life, self-deception most often appears as hypocrisy.

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How Attractive Is Your Personality? (Part II)

In August I wrote about some interesting findings about how our personality makes us more or less physically attractive to others (read Part I). We learned that being friendly, attention-seeking, and demonstrating a genuine concern in networking with and helping others enhances perceptions of physical attractiveness, while being distant, indifferent, passive-aggressive, and eccentric can be real turn-offs. These results represented trends across people in general, regardless of their gender. To satisfy my insatiable curiosity, I decided to delve further by investigating whether there are personality characteristics that differentially relate to the physical attractiveness of men versus women.

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