Constructing Integrity

Recent events in politics and business again show the importance of personal integrity in everyday affairs, especially at the leadership level. Our analysis of the psychology of integrity suggests that the topic, although a crucial element in human affairs, is somewhat more paradoxical than it might appear at first blush.In Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, Carl Jung describes meeting Albert Schweizer (1875-1965), the legendary theologian, organist, philosopher, and physician known for founding a hospital for the poor in Gabon. Schweizer received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952, and by anyone’s standards qualifies as a great moral figure. Jung reported that he spent two days prying at Schweizer, trying to find the neurotic underpinnings for his moral nobility, and he could find nothing. Then Jung noted that he met Schweizer’s wife, and Schweizer’s narcissism was revealed. Similarly, Erik Erikson wrote a psycho-biographical study of Mohandas Ghandi, the “great-souled father” of modern India, the man who invented non-violent civil disobedience as a way of protesting political oppression, and virtually everyone’s prototype of a great moral figure. Erikson was so disgusted by Gandhi’s hypocrisy and narcissism that he almost abandoned the project. Mother Theresa similarly fails to hold up well under close moral scrutiny.

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Pyramid of Success and Personality

  June 4th, 2010 marked the passing of basketball coaching legend John Wooden. As many people are aware, Wooden was known as the “Wizard of Westwood” for his unmatched success as coach of the UCLA men’s basketball team, leading them to a record 88 consecutive victories and 10 national championships among other accomplishments. What is less widely publicized is the strategy that Wooden designed and deployed in order to recruit, assess, select, develop, and mentor his players into successful individuals on and off the court. This aspect of the coach’s legend interestingly establishes him as not only an innovator in the sport of basketball, but also a pioneer in the realm of talent management. Read More »

Learn a New Language and Gain a New Soul

Three unrelated events have transpired over the last few weeks that have inspired me to share a message with you that you know all too well: translating meaning from one language to another language (accurately) is very tricky business. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton learned that lesson the hard way when she presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a gift bearing an incorrect translation—one that implied hostility, rather than peacemaking. Clinton presented Lavrov with a orange button which said "Reset" in English and "Peregruzka" in Russian. The problem was, "peregruzka" doesn't mean reset. It means overcharged, or overloaded. Lavrov called her out on it.

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Send in the Clowns

As I was flipping through the channels the other night, I noticed a pattern. Making my way up through the 100s of channels, I saw multiple shows featuring “clowns." These are not the kind of clowns you find at the circus or the kind of clowns that make you go, “haha,” but the kind of clowns that make you go, “meh” (or worse).News shows, talk shows, reality I flipped through the channels, I was amazed to see people espousing ideas, behaviors, and attitudes that are generally reserved for the make-believe world of sitcoms and movie blockbusters. Their emotional outbursts, exaggerated smugness, and what can only be described as extremely poor attention-seeking strategies do attract viewers. We like to laugh at others. We like to feel an emotional charge now and then. We even like watching others make fools of themselves. And during my channel surfing, I sometimes find myself staring at the train wrecks too (several of my personal favorites come from MTV, Fox News, and MSNBC).Sometimes the Glenn Becks, Chris Matthews, and Snookis of the world are entertaining. Not because they are intentionally funny, but because of the extreme, negative characteristics they display. I can’t imagine trying to get work done in an office space with someone who needs as much attention as Snooki or trying to reach anything resembling a compromise by Mr. Matthews. Even my ten-month-old son appears to display more emotional control than Mr. Beck. Although these people are fine in their roles, most would agree that having to interact with them day after day would take its toll (sometimes I can’t even bear it through a whole TV segment).My personal opinions and facetiousness aside, some of these clowns’ behaviors are extreme examples of interaction styles we all encounter at work. Be it your Colorful boss, your Excitable co-worker, or your unbelievably Bold subordinate, you have met and worked with these people. Although passion, confidence, and social skills are desirable, taken to the extreme, these same characteristics will derail everyone sometime during their careers.Luckily, we have the ability to measure individuals’ propensity to engage in these derailing behaviors. The Hogan Development Survey (HDS) allows us to be cautious about whom we hire, or to be proactive in coaching individuals who are predisposed towards certain undesirable actions (like writing a blog the night before it’s due). Knowing what could go wrong can be just as important as knowing what could go right. Remember, the next time you have to make a human capital decision, you could be dealing with “The Situation.”