Tag Archives: assessment

“Derailing” Executive Personality Measures Predict Leadership Mishaps

Ellen Van Velsor

Ellen Van Velsor

Executive Derailment” occurs when a person with an executive-level position is seen by others to “fail” in achieving the most important goals for the role, including business outcomes and interpersonal relationships.
Ellen Van Velsor and Jean Brittain Leslie of The Center for Creative Leadership’s reassessed and confirmed their earlier findings on derailment dynamics.

Jean Brittain Leslie

Jean Brittain Leslie

Executive derailment can occur when:

  • An executive overuses or underuses a strength, resulting in a performance liability,
  • Superiors overlook an executive’s performance-impairing deficiencies in personality or character,
  • An executive encounters extreme market challenges or personal difficulties,
  • Career advancement leads the executive to behave arrogantly.

Derailed executives typically:

  • Do not achieve business objectives,
  • Are unable or unwilling to adapt to frequent changes,
  • Have interpersonal problems,
  • Lack broad functional experience,
  • Do not hire the right people and build a cohesive, readable team.

Derailment can also occur when an executive’s interpersonal skill deficits interact with adverse organizational conditions:

  • Unclear organizational direction, with misalignment between corporate strategy and objectives,
  • Lack of role mandate or clarity, in which the executive is not endowed with necessary power and authority to achieve the organization’s goals,
  • Lack of rapport with key stakeholders including the board, the management team, employees,
  • Inability to perceive, understand and respond to strategic market trends, customer priorities,
  • Inaccurate prioritization and abdicating accountability for delivery, execution, performance,
  • Unresponsiveness to rapidly changing market conditions and innovation opportunities.
Joyce Hogan-Robert Hogan

Joyce Hogan-Robert Hogan

“Derailing” personality measures were empirically differentiated from “everyday” personality tendencies by Robert Hogan and Joyce Hogan, then at University of Tulsa, with Gordon Curphy, then at Personnel Decisions, Inc.

They asked observers to rate individuals when they are “at their best” on the “Big Five” personality dimensions, also known as the Five-Factor Model (FFM) – Emotional Stability, Extraversion/Ambition, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Intellect/Openness to Experience.

Gordon Curphy

Gordon Curphy

This approach differs from self-report inventories because it is based on “socioanalytic theory” to understand individual differences in work performance, and avoids biases inherent in self report.

Hogan and Hogan observed a high base rate for managerial incompetence in any organizations based on validated assessment inventories.
These tools, they argue, can promote professional development by providing candid performance feedback to help managers modify dysfunctional behaviors associated with derailment.
However, this quantified feedback is valuable only if inept managers are willing to receive feedback and coaching, and develop a plan to observe and modify unproductive behaviors.

Brent Holland

Brent Holland

These “everyday” personality assessment scales also predicted occupational performance in addition to behavior patterns, in Joyce Hogan with Brent Holland‘s review of more than 450 validation studies predicting occupational performance across job roles and industries.

Timothy Judge

Timothy Judge

Similarly, the Five Factor model’s measures correlated with leadership behaviors, reported University of Notre Dame’s Timothy Judge, and Remus Ilies of National University of Singapore, with Joyce Bono of University of Florida and Miami University’s Megan Gerhardt.

They noted that extraversion consistently correlates with leadership dimensions, including leader emergence and leadership effectiveness.
Recent emphasis on the “power of introverts” suggests further investigation of how introverts assume and exercise leadership.

Joyce Bono

Joyce Bono

Derailment may be mitigated by developing:

  • Diverse career experiences,
  • Hardiness and composure under stress,
  • Responsibility by acknowledging mistakes and failures with honesty, candor, and poise,
  • Focus on solutions and learning from errors,
  • Ability to collaborate with diverse groups and individuals
Megan Gerhardt

Megan Gerhardt

-*How do you evaluate potential for leadership success and derailment?
-*How do you prevent derailment in your work activities?

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Three Approaches to Identifying a Career Path

-*What’s the best way to find your professional path?

Mark Savickas

Mark Savickas

Career interventions have evolved over the past 70 years from individual differences assessment to occupational development to current emphasis on life planning.
Vocational guidance was supplanted by “career education,” focused on fulfilling developmental tasks and adapting to occupational requirements.
More recently, “career counseling” built on the preceding approaches by considering each individual as the designer and author of a career path.

Mark Savickas of Northeast Ohio Medical University traced this incremental change, and noted that “each time that society has changed the prevalent form of employment, psychology has changed its methods of career intervention to help people deal with new identity issues and lifestyle problems.”

John Holland

John Holland

Early attempts to help people find their occupational paths focused on matching six personality prototypes incorporating six related value types with six associated vocational categories, thanks to John Holland of Johns Hopkins, who developed the Self Directed Search assessment.

Holland's Six Career Themes

Holland’s Six Career Themes

Individual were seen as “actors” who needed to match individual differences with occupations that best fit these characteristics.

John Crites

John Crites

Next came an emphasis on careers as a developmental challenge that requires adaptation and training to develop new attitudes, beliefs, and competencies that foster their vocational adaptation.

Donald Super

Donald Super

People were seen as “agents” striving to develop into an occupational role, with insight from assessments including the Career Maturity Inventory by University of Maryland’s John Crites and Career Development, Assessment, and Counseling (C-DAC) conceived by Donald Super of University of Connecticut.

Careers are currently seen as a “narrative construction” or a “life design project” drawing on emotion valence, autobiographical career stories and life themes that suggest professional construction and reconstruction.

Individuals are seen as “authors” of their career narrative in context of a life story.
Savickas developed this constructivist perspective to serve “workers in societies that have de-standardized the life course and de-jobbed employment” after applying Holland’s individual differences approach and developmental views of Crites and Super.

Three Career Development Approaches

Three Career Development Approaches

Paul Hartung

Paul Hartung

To enable this career narrative, Savickas and Northeast Ohio Medical University colleague Paul Hartung developed a structured career interview.
This “Autobiographical Workbook” asks people to share stories about self, identity, and career, including inquiries about role models, favorite magazines, how they made important decisions, and what their parents wanted for their lives to uncover prevailing interests, values, concerns, and precipitants to action.Career Construction Interview

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein

This approach helps people “envision how to use work to actively master what they passively suffer” and “fit work into life rather than life into work” by collecting stories about “…how a person constructed a career, then deconstructs and reconstructs these stories into an identity narrative, and finally co-constructs intentions that lead to action in the real world.
Narrative Construction and Life Design perspectives echo Ludwig Wittgenstein’s observation that problems are solved not by giving information but by rearranging what we already know.

In this collection and rearrangement process, Savickas sees the individual as a career architect whereas a career consultant is like a carpenter who suggests recombinations in light of current needs and future goals while respecting interests, values, and strengths.

This process also enables new perspectives on more productive approaches to past challenges when encountered in future contexts, working around obstacles, and drawing on past examples of competence and self-efficacy.

  • Which perspective on career development most guided your selection of work paths?

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