Last month, Hogan celebrated its annual Hogan Game Day competition, a team-based version of the popular game show “Minute to Win It” that is a much-anticipated event at our Tulsa office.

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X-Factors of Executive Success

It was only a month ago that President Obama announced the death of America’s biggest villain and proudly proclaimed victory in the name of justice.For most, the events that unfolded and the success of the mission were symbols of American power. But to those of us who have a passion for leadership, the more subtle story revolved around President Obama and the potential impact this success would have on perceptions of his effectiveness as a leader.April 24, just days before he announced Bin Laden’s death, Real Clear Politics, a site that averages political polls, showed President Obama’s job approval ratings at just 45%, with 50% disapproving. Experts owed those negative poll numbers to public dissatisfaction with the economy – high gas prices, debt, and signs of inflation. Less than a month later, those perceptions had changed for the better.The ultimate measure of senior executive selection and succession planning is how well we can identify future high performers. Even with decades of research and industry leading tools, the best we can predict is somewhere around 30% to 40% of leadership potential, and this is better than most of our competitors. So what's going on with the other 60% to 70%? The following factors are just some of the complexities of executive performance:Success often relies on a few key decisions.The base rate of those critical decisions is low, making them difficult to reliably measure. How many times does a leader have the opportunity to take out Public Enemy No.1 and change his/her foreign policy reputation overnight? If you are Google, is it a good choice to buy You Tube? Skype if you are Microsoft? How much do you invest in your new product, the iPod? It only takes one decision to make or break a reputation, or a company's value.Real impact is only visible in the long-term. It can take years before the value of some executive decisions can be measured. Experts argue decisions made more than 40 years ago to provide covert assistance to Afghan rebels’ fight against the USSR – hailed as a US victory in the Cold War – lead to the creation of modern-day Al-Qaeda. Short-term brilliance can actually have very bad effects, and, likewise, your "dud" of a leader may just have a long-term plan in mind.Success often means having good timing. The US economy recently took a plunge unlike anything we could have expected. Sure, there were some leaders who were responsible for the decline (yes, I'm looking at you, Wall Street), and there were policy decisions in Washington that were equally critical (Barney Frank). There were also executives who had no control over the market’s movement. If you would have measured executive performance using a “snapshot” method during that time, you would have seen some ugly metrics: sinking revenue, poor profits, negative stock value, and low employee engagement. Now, as companies rebound, those in power reap the benefits of economic recovery without necessarily doing anything.Success sometimes comes down to luck.Social scientists are trained early and often on the importance of statistical significance – identifying relationships that are not due to chance alone. And whatever you call it – luck, chance, or good fortune – there is an element to executive performance which is not entirely within a leader's control. President Bush took a big hit to his reputation as an effective leader due to his response to Hurricane Katrina, even though so much of what happened – an intense hurricane hitting exactly where it did – was beyond his control.Politics makes leadership a visible sport, but it is easy to forget some of the lessons it teaches us about measuring executive performance. You may be able to identify who has the right stuff, but judging whether someone will be truly successful is no easy task.Finally, ask yourself about your own leaders: Do they really make good decisions? Or are they riding the coat tails of someone else's decisions, reaping the benefits of good timing, and enjoying a little luck? 

Is your blogging personality affecting your reputation?

Blogging is another means of communication that reflects a person’s attitudes, ideas, interests, and values. Many of these characteristics gel with a few others to ultimately make up an individual’s personality or as we refer to it here at Hogan – “reputation.”

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First Class Leadership: #35

It can be hard to remember all the great moments of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s season when sports announcers and writers have been more focused this week on the Thunder’s “collapse” after losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference. Although many fans faced disappointment after Games 4 and 5 (especially those of us in Oklahoma), the Thunder’s hard fought third season should not go overlooked. At the forefront of the adolescent Thunder team is Kevin Durant, who sums up the season nicely in a tweet he released last night: “It's been a fun ride for us. We had 15 guys on this team and a whole city behind us. Everybody was great. We'll keep working hard." Read More »

The Influence of Personality and Values on Goal Attainment: A Diva Story

  Understanding the dynamics of a team is critical to successful goal attainment. What does the team value? What drives the team members and sets them up for success, and more importantly, what derailment obstacles may they encounter? A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to experience the power of collaboration in action. Every year, Oklahoma City hosts a marathon in honor of those who lost their lives in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The 2011 race marked the 11th annual marathon event, which includes everything from 5k races to the full marathon and even a marathon relay. This year, I participated in the marathon relay with an amazing group of women. We called ourselves the Derailing Divas because over the course of 26.2 miles with six driven, socially self-confident, and engaging women there is bound to be a little derailment going on. Although the relay consisted of five legs, the Derailing Divas had six team members. The sixth, The Coach, ran the half marathon and served as the running expert for our team. The race is not something that the Divas will forget anytime soon. As we left our hotel at 5:30am on Sunday May 1st, the sky was dark and cloudy. Within minutes of arriving at the race site, thunder and lightning came crashing around us and so did the rain…torrential rain. Visions of a beautiful and sunny race day quickly faded, but with these dreary conditions, the Divas’ determination increased. After a 30 minute delay, I walked to the starting line with The Coach. As we worked our way through the thousands of runners to find our place on the wet pavement, a sense of urgency (HPI Adjustment) and fear of potential failure (HDS Cautious) emerged. Would we be able to complete the relay in these conditions? Am I going to let my team down if I run slower in the rain? In that moment of self-doubt something amazing happened -- the race started and as thousands of runners made their way past the memorial, the crowd began to cheer. It was at this point that I realized that the race wasn’t about my time; it was about our team goal to finish the race with a sense of pride for the cause, to have a fun, and persevere despite the weather. As I started the last mile of my 6-mile leg, my shoes and clothes were soaked, and I was ready to throw in the wet towel. Then I started thinking about our team and the fact that the other Derailing Divas were waiting on me. I began running faster and met The Navigator at the relay station. She greeted me enthusiastically and took off to continue the race. The Navigator eventually met up with The Timekeeper, and as the race progressed, we continued to run faster. When The Timekeeper met The Networker she received updates on everyone’s progress and the weather conditions. On the final transition, The Finisher took the baton and ran with heart and determination to finish the race despite wind, rain, and hail. When the race was complete, the Derailing Divas had a celebratory lunch and shared stories of their experiences throughout the day. I’m not sure if it was our competitive drive (HPI Ambition) or sensitivity to our teammates’ emotions (HPI Interpersonal Sensitivity) that pushed us to persevere and exceed our own expectations, but the Derailing Divas succeeded. We completed the race 30 minutes faster than we anticipated! The Derailing Divas’ success was impacted by a number of things, but most of all we were successful because we shared a few things in common. The Divas are driven and competitive (HPI Ambition), collaborative and sensitive to others needs (HPI Interpersonal Sensitivity and MVPI Affiliation), and like to have fun and tell a good story (MVPI Hedonism and HDS Colorful).  I would certainly be willing to run a race with these Divas again, only next time I hope for a little more sunshine!  

Norming Personality Assessments

Last month I chaired a panel at the annual SIOP Conference in Chicago on the topic of norming personality assessments. We had participation from a number of other test publishers, and a couple of audience members that added some real value to the discussion. The topics ranged from things such as factors that influence norms, to the appropriateness of global norms, and the implications of highly specialized norms. Overall I came away with a greater awareness that we’re all dealing with the same issues, and pleasantly surprised that the thoughts in the field seem to be converging, at least to some extent. For those of you with an unquenchable thirst for all things norms, here’s a brief summary of some of the key takeaways.

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Playing the Trump Card

I recently flipped on the news to find Donald Trump on an episode of CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley discussing the fact that he has risen to a top contender in the polls for the next republican presidential nominee.Why is Donald Trump considering a presidential bid in the 2012 election? When asked, he replied, “I wish I didn't have to do it. I would prefer not doing it. But I love this country…I will tell you, I am giving it serious, serious thought.”I was immediately struck by the boldness of this statement – it was his obligation to save America from itself, and the US would simply be lost without his guidance. He would prefer not to be president, but his undying love for the red, white, and blue has driven him to seriously, seriously consider taking office.Trump is well known for his bravado – he refers to himself as “The Donald” – but these statements take it to a whole new level. After the interview ended, I did some more research and learned that Trump spoke at an April 16 Tea Party rally in Boca Raton, Florida. There, he elaborated on this boldness, suggesting that his superior business skills qualify him to run one of the most powerful countries in the world: "We need people that win. We don't need people that lose all the time. I've beaten many people and companies, and I've won many wars. I...earned many, many billions of dollars. It's both a scorecard and an acknowledgment of certain abilities.”In an ABC interview, Trump quipped, "Part of the beauty of me is that I'm very rich…That's a huge advantage. I must tell you, that's a huge advantage over the other candidates.”When asked about how he measures up to potential opponent Mitt Romney, he replied, "I have a much bigger net worth… I'm a much bigger businessman. I mean my net worth is many, many, many times Mitt Romney's."In these statements, Trump reveals an intensely competitive nature, a hunger for power and status, and a viewpoint that promotes financial success as a way to keep score. He also demonstrates a belief that emphatically repeating or restating your words is an effective influence tactic. Many, many, many times more effective than his opponents’ techniques.Hogan enthusiasts and coaches are already mentally plotting Trump’s scores on his hypothetical HDS Challenge Report. I am willing to wager that Trump would score high on the derailment scales of Mischievous, Imaginative, Bold, and Colorful…in ascending order. This is what we at Hogan refer to as the “Charismatic Cluster” of scores commonly found in leadership profiles. The positive behaviors associated with these scales involve seeming daring, visionary, confident, and energetic – characteristics that make a person seem leader-like and influential. Taken to the extreme, these scales take on a negative quality, resulting in a tendency to be impulsive, unpredictable, arrogant, and dramatic – characteristics that are distinctly Trump-like.To be fair, The Donald isn’t the only one who exhibits these characteristics. In fact, these descriptors may apply to many of the politicians and celebrities that stand out in history. The characteristics that make them impactful and memorable are often the same ones that make them destructive and infamous. 

We hired them for their abilities and fired them for their personality.

  I was recently working with a long-term client of Hogan when my contact made the above statement. As the discussion continued, the client cited behaviors such as arrogance, emotional outbursts, lack of decisiveness, stubbornness, poor interpersonal skills, inflexibility, and ass-kissing as a few of the reasons why their last senior-level hires did not work out. When we examined the company’s track record over the past two years in hiring senior level talent, more than half of the hires did not work out. How could this be? It’s a Fortune 500 company, a leader in its industry, and its hiring process was refined. The company used the best recruiters, was careful, involved many people in the process, and invested a significant amount of resources in finding top talent. What were they missing? Interestingly, during our entire discussion, not once did my contacts mention a lack of technical competency, education, intelligence, or general ability as the reasons for failure. Like most organizations, it was clear the hiring process focused on finding talent with the desired work experience and technical competence. In fact, the company was incredibly efficient at finding intelligent people who had a proven record of successful performance. These candidates were the best of the best, leaders in their field, and yet, over half failed miserably. Toward the end of our discussion, it was clear the organization did not understand how each of the candidates’ personalities fit the job and the organizational culture. They made the all too common assumption – if the candidate was successful at Company A and met the competency requirements, he or she will surely be successful in our company. Like many other organizations, they failed to understand what is happening under the surface – beyond the polished interview, impeccable resume, and solid performance record. It’s a story we hear daily at Hogan, and here are some of my key points to anyone considering using Hogan’s inventories in a pre-hire situation: PROVEN – Time and again, personality has shown to predict future job-related behavior as good as or better than interviews, cognitive measures, and simulations. From a statistical standpoint, validity coefficients increase exponentially when organizations supplement these hiring methodologies with a valid personality assessment. INSIGHTFUL – Hogan’s assessment battery provides unparalleled insights into a candidate’s day-to-day work style, derailment tendencies under stress, and core value drivers. As mentioned above, combine these insights with the other common components of the hiring process to develop a thorough recruitment and onboarding process. These insights can also be used to strengthen the behavioral based interview process by targeting specific areas of strength or concern which might have not been noticed earlier in the hiring process. ORGANIZATIONAL FIT – Hogan’s pre-hire solutions answer the following organizational fit questions for hiring managers:   How well does this candidate fit the critical success factors of the job or workgroup? Read More »

Going on a Which Hunt

When discussing the topic of selection assessment with human resources professionals, it can be rather easy to overwhelm a non-technical audience by carrying on about job analysis, criterion validation, correlations, legal defensibility, etc. A former colleague of mine who worked as a sales representative used to say I was getting “I/O-ish” (as in Industrial/Organizational psychology) when I started using such terminology. Keep in mind that I’m the first person to advocate the merits of assessment validation for ensuring effective talent management solutions. However, my colleague made an important point that sometimes, in an effort to provide the details behind the psychometrics of implementing an assessment for candidate selection, we may inadvertently add complexity to the conversation. 

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