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Working with You Is Killing Me: Part #3

by Dr Tuvia Melamed on Apr.30, 2010, under Working with You Is Killing Me

Working with You Is Killing Me: Part #3

Dr Tuvia Melamed
ClearWater A&D
to download a pdf copy click here

Fatal Attraction 

How did it all go so wrong?
It had so much promise in the beginning…

This blog builds on Chapter 4 of Crowley & Elster book – ‘Working with You Is Keeling Me – published in 2006 by Warner Business Books.

When you first met, you felt drawn to that person; you were excited at the prospect of working together – there was something about that person that fulfilled a strong inner need within you. However, over time, interactions with this person left you emotionally exhausted and professionally frustrated – by now, you are dreading the next interaction. You spend your days and sleepless nights running conversations in your head, trying to understand the other person, thinking of ways of bringing the relationships to what it was in the past – but with no avail. No matter what you do, you cannot steer the relationships back to its vibrant beginning.

Fatal attraction refers to a more complex set of work relationships than the ones described in the first two chapters. In Fatal Attraction, the difficulty in sorting out the working relationships with a colleague stems from some inherited benefits that you gain while in the relationship. Fatal attraction is about working relationship that had great promise and excitement at the beginning, but grew more difficult over time. In fatal attraction, you still get from time to time the initial spark of the earlier stage of the relationship, and that promise keeps the relationship going although you know that the relationship is wrong and has devastating consequences for you.

Fatal attractions are confusing as it is hard to accept the sharp contrast between the early stages of the relationship and the current state. At first, they made you feel so exhilarated. You felt literally charged when you interacted with the person. Something about their personality enticed you, pulled you in. You may still have the same feeling from time to time, but the frequency of it is rapidly diminishing. You entered the relationships on an emotional high, but this turned into an emotional trap for you.

In this chapter we will explore four types of fatal attractions. Each stems from fulfilling a deep inherent need. First, we will meet the ‘Exploder’ who attracts those with need for approval from authority figures. Second, we will meet the ‘Perfectionist’ who attracts those with strong sense of insecurity about their capability, yet crave recognition to confirm their self-worth. Next, we will meet the ‘Back-Stabber’ who attracts those who yearn for admiration and respect from others. Finally, we will meet the ‘High Maintenance’ who attracts those who are natural caregivers with strong paternal instinct.

In all four cases, the build-up of the fatal attraction relationship goes through seven stages:

  1. Magnetism:  The honeymoon period, when the person is at their best and fulfil your deep inherent need
  2. Consumption: The relationship turns a corner. The person starts displaying their dark side
  3. Admittance: This is the first visible and undeniable downhill stage of the relationship. You have accepted that something is fundamentally wrong, and you spend your time running in your head interactions’ playback, rehearsing future conversations, and licking your wounds
  4. Obsession: This stage is the last attempt you make to recover the relationships. You become obsessed with trying to convert and change the other person. You spend hours fixated on what it will take to alter the other person’s behaviour
  5. Exhaustion:  At this stage you give up the proactive change attempts. You are emotionally exhausted. Any additional interaction just adds to your emotional fatigue
  6. Avoidance: You actively seek to avoid any further interaction. You develop the equivalent of an allergic reaction to the other person. This takes the form of an automatic physiological reaction to the other person. Your body involuntary responds when you hear their voice and get a glimpse of them. You experience physical distress in myriad of ways such as headaches, twitching, stiff muscles, neck pains…
  7. Learned Helplessness: At this stage you surrender all control over the relationship. You feel and behave like a helpless prisoner. You resigned to the negative treatment and can’t imagine a way out. You feel and become bitter and disillusioned. You are trapped in a no-win situation 

Although these stages are chronological, you may experience them in and out of sequence – or going forward and backward over several stages. This will particularly apply to stages four and five, where following one single positive incident with the other person, you may still attempt to rescue the relationship, even after you have promised yourself that you have given up on the relationship.

The Four Fatal Attractions

The fatal attractions tend develop in certain work relationships’ contexts:

  • The Exploder:  The ‘Exploder’ tends to have a position of formal authority; in most cases being the line manager of their ‘victim’
    • Attracts: People who like dynamic personalities – those who need approval from authority figures
  • The Perfectionist: The ‘Perfectionist’ tends to have a position where their role is to critique the work outcomes of their victim. It is common in both client-supplier relationships and in manager-subordinate relationships
    • Attracts: People who like being put on a pedestal – those with strong sense of insecurity about their capability
  • The Back-Stabber: The ‘Back-Stabber’ type tends to be found in collegial relationship, where the ‘Back Stabber’ is somewhat junior to their victim (e.g., Junior Consultant and a Senior Consultant). In many cases the victim acts as a mentor of the ‘Back Stabber’.
    • Attracts: People who crave praise – those who yearn for admiration and respect from others
  • The High Maintenance: The ‘High Maintenance’ is most common in collegial relationships of equals (e.g., two co-workers of the same rank)
    • Attracts: People who like to help others – those natural caregivers with strong parental instinct

In each case, the ‘victim’ experiences a key transition in the relationship:

  • The Exploder: Starts out as dynamic and charming; turns out into dynamite and volatile
    • Early symptoms: Exhibiting sudden, unexpected, yet short-lived explosive outbursts
  • The Perfectionist: Starts out as accepting and flattering; turns into pedantic control freak and fault finding
    • Early Symptoms: Pedantic and megalomaniac attempts to control you at the first signs of potential failure
  • The Back-Stabbing: Starts out as sweet talk, admiring, and semi-worshiping, turns into sabotage, conspiring, and back-stabbing
    • Early Symptoms: Unverified signs of betrayal and vilification
  • The High Maintenance: Starts as nice, trusting, and soul searching mate, turns into very needy and dependent
    • Early Symptoms: Regardless of large amounts of advice, no signs of acting on the advice

Each of the types displays elements or hints of mild clinical conditions, or what Robert Hogan calls a ‘dark side’. The clinical terms and Hogan’s ‘dark side’ terms are provided coupled with brief description of the types and their behaviour.

  • The Exploder = Borderline Personality
    • Hogan’s dark side term = Excitable >>> Inappropriate anger. Intense and unstable relationships, alternating between idealisation and devaluation.
  • The Perfectionist = Obsessive Compulsive
    • Hogan’s dark side term =Diligent >>> Obsessive occupation with structure, orderliness, process, rules, control and procedures
  • The Back-Stabbing =Passive-Aggressive
    • Hogan’s dark side term = Leisurely >>> Covert aggression and despise; Constant scheming and manipulation under a pretence of loyalty
  • The High Maintenance = Dependent
    • Hogan’s dark side term = Dutiful >>> Excessive need to please. Difficulty making simple decisions without advice or excessive reassurance. Insecurity coupled with inability expressing disagreement out of fear of loss of support.

#1 the Exploder

The ‘Exploder’ is charming, charismatic, and enigmatic from the outset. They exude confidence, resolve, decisiveness, determination, and self-belief. Their dynamism, focus, and natural sense of authority draw in people to join the bandwagon of success. At the beginning the relationship is thrilling, exciting, exhilarating. You believe that together you can achieve anything you set your mind to. You cannot stop singing the praises of this person. Hence it comes as a shock when this all change very abruptly. One day this person hit a problem, and without any warning they lose their temper. In a flash a new side emerges that is emotionally volatile, harsh, hurtful, loud, accusatory and totally irrational. After the blow-up, the ‘Exploder’ brings back the conviction, charisma and charm, but you quickly learn that this is not long-lived. It only last until the next triggering event.

Impact on You: You turn into a nervous wreck – Tiptoeing around the ‘Exploder’ in fear of detonating them, and searching ways of deactivating the next explosion.  You don’t concentrate on your job anymore. Instead, you become preoccupied with trying with limited success to manage the Exploder’s unpredictable behaviour.

#2 the Perfectionist

The ‘Perfectionist’ makes you the ‘flavour of the month’ for a short period – putting you on a pedestal, only to kick it from under your feet later on. To start with, the ‘Perfectionist’ showers you with compliments, crowns you with more talent than anybody else, and uses you as an example to others as someone to emulate. For a while, you can do no wrong. But, the Perfectionist’s expectations are that you will act as the saviour (e.g., increase sales figures, reorganise a department, deliver all-singing-all-dancing product, etc.). However, as time passes and you appear more of a capable human being than a superhero, the Perfectionist searches and finds faults and evidence that you are not perfect.

Impact on You: Suddenly from the ‘chosen one’ you turn into the scapegoat. Instead of being a star, you are a sorry disappointment. You become confused and upset by the fall from grace, desperately try to replicate or mimic the behaviour that led to the superstar status. Yet, the pedantic and detailed bookkeeping of any little fault you make diminishes your self confidence, and reveal you most hidden insecurities.

#3 the Back-Stabber

The Back-Stabber enters the relationship as your greatest fun and admirer and shows great hunger to learn from you, to imitate your behaviour, to become a carbon copy of you. Like ‘Mini-Me’ in the Austin Powers movies, the Back-Stabber becomes in the first instance a ‘mini-you’. You feel admired and worshiped. This does wonders to your inflated ego, and fits well with some of your hidden narcissistic tendencies. As time progresses, you come across faint evidence that the Back-Stabber is behind activities or interactions that compromise or hurt your professional standing. Things start getting wrong for you (e.g., a large account is taken from you, people start questioning some of your practices and methods, you start getting complaints). The more you try to identify a reason for it, the more you notice that your little admirer is the common denominator in all these instances.

Impact on you: You get an irritating feeling that the Back-Stabber tries to undermine you in order to take over your position – yet, the Back-Stabber covers their path with great skill and your suspicions are unsubstantiated. From the outset, the Back-Stabber maintains the same pretence of loyalty, but their worship style is a bit more tamed. You do not know what or who to believe. You feel defensive and undermined. You want to believe that you can trust the Back-Stabber as your ego craves the God-like admiration, but you cannot stop the niggling feeling that you have been constantly stabbed in the back. Your attempts to confront the Back-Stabber are futile, as the Back-Stabber reacts with hurt and deny. Each attempt chips away from the amount of admiration you receive, and you are hooked – not sure if you becoming paranoid, going for a period of bad luck, or there is something in your suspicions. Rather than concentrating on your work, you spend too much of your time seeking evidence to support your conspiracy theories.

#4 the High Maintenance

Earlier in the relationship the High-Maintenance places their trust in you, displaying honesty, vulnerability, and extreme self-disclosure. You feel worthwhile, valuable, and useful. It plays to your paternal instinct and sense of justice. The High Maintenance constantly compliments you for your wisdom, compassion, and ability to sympathise – typically using phrases like “I don’t know what I would have done without you”, or “you are such a good and dear friend”.  You want to get out of your way to show your kindness to the High Maintenance, helping them to cope with their issues or stand back on their feet. While in the beginning, you might like this sense of dependency on you; after a while you realise two things – first, that you spend enormous amount of time and energy dealing with the High Maintenance and their problems, and second, that all your suggestions and advice are never taken on board.

Impact on you: As the needs of the High Maintenance for time intensify, the boundaries between your work and personal life begin to blur. Out of pity, or due to your desire to free your time at work, you may start dealing with the High Maintenance problems at your non-work time. You might invite the High Maintenance to discuss their problems over the weekend, you may find yourself obliged to invite the High Maintenance to join you for family events, holidays, and the like, justifying it to yourself by saying that they don’t have anyone else to turn to. When you realise that this is too demanding and try to ease the relationship a bit, the helpless High Maintenance starts excusing you of “being just like anyone else – selfish, uncaring, heartless”. Being afraid to become the bad guy, you feel obliged to keep the relationship going – yet, you feel exhausted, drained. The High Maintenance has sapped the energy out of you. You are tired of the constant doom and gloom, the constant moaning, and the inability of the High Maintenance to help themselves.


It is very hard to unhook from a fatal attraction relationships. You will probably have to go through all seven stages of the relationship before being able to move on. The unhooking goes through four phases:

First is the detection and admittance. This stage require you to admit to yourself that you are hooked (some push might come from those around you who can see the emotional state you are in). The admittance stage also includes an element of mourning and grief. Deep inside you are still attracted to the other person and want to experience again the feeling you had at the beginning of the relationship. Unhooking requires you to emotionally kill this relationship.

The second phase is that of detachment. Once you intellectually accepted that this relationship is dead and nothing will revive it, you need to separate yourself emotionally from the relationship. To do that you need to teach yourself to look at the other person from an objective perspective. This will require you to fully accept that:

  • The other person is not going to change – any signs of change are only a manipulative attempt to re-hook you
  • The relationship will never turn to its exciting and promising beginning – you have to let go of the assumption that this person or this relationship has potential. It never had and it never will have. What you saw as potential was sophisticated hooking
  • You will never receive the acknowledgement or the rewards you once hoped to get from this relationships – this means that all your efforts were wasted (you simply have to cut you loses and move on)

The third phase is depersonalisation. This phase is about understanding that it is not about you. Forget about the phrase “it takes two to Tango”. This is one of the only instances where it is totally not your fault – there is something fundamentally wrong with the other person. The more objectively you can view the other person, the less helpless you become, and the less power the other person has over you.

The final phase is of disassociation. In this phase you treat the person as if you never had a meaningful relationship with them at all. You keep the relationship on a professional level, and prevent any attempts to personalise any interaction. You maintain courtesy, but keep a professional distance. You do not give anything of yourself as a person, only your expected professional skills, and even those only within the boundaries of what can be expected from an employee – so, you provide your professional opinion if requested to do so by the other person, but do not take calls (even if work related) outside working hours. You talk about the business if required, but avoid any personal or non-business questions or comments from the other person. You bring the relationship into a level of pure business transaction.

The Way Out

     The Exploder

  • Accept that this person has unresolved rage
  • Appreciates that their volatility will occur no matter what you do
  • Learn to watch the Exploder blow up without taking it personally or being affected

     The Perfectionist

  • Accept that nothing that you will do will reinstate your former ‘Superhero’ status.
  • Appreciate that the ‘Perfectionist’ shaky self-esteem and fear of failure are what drive the devaluing remarks about you.
  • Stop trying to regain your statuesque position, neither with the ‘Perfectionist’ nor with anyone else. Focus on getting approval, agreement, and support from other sources

     The Back-Stabber

  • Accept that this person approach to further their career is by putting others down
  • Appreciate that this person believe that they cannot succeed on merit alone, and they need to make others look bad
  • Cut-off the relationship completely. Keep records of everything.

     The High Maintenance

  • Accept that this person does not want help – only attention
  • Appreciate that this person’s problems (either real or fictitious)will not go away no matter what you do
  • Stop trying to solve the problems. Listen without giving advice. Watch your time. Start putting boundaries back in place.


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Working with You Is Killing Me: Part #2

by Dr Tuvia Melamed on Mar.31, 2010, under Working with You Is Killing Me

Working with You Is Killing Me: Part #2

Dr Tuvia Melamed
ClearWater A&D
to download a pdf copy click here

The Empty Persona

This blog builds on an excellent, but not well known article – Managing Away Bad Habits – by James Waldroop and Timothy Butler that was published in 2000 in Harvard Business Review.

“I was here on Saturday afternoon. Where were you?” This kind of “subtle” pressure to work 24/7 is typical of the ‘Hero’ – one of the four characters featuring in this chapter of ‘Working with You Is Killing Me’. This chapter focuses on those colleagues who drive you crazy; yet you find it very difficult to challenge or to tackle them, simply because they are star performers. But they are star performers with a dark-side – they have a seemingly fatal personality flow or a psychological limitation that colours their achievements, holds them back, and makes the life of others a misery.

We have all worked with people who are star performers but have one serious personality shortcoming that makes life difficult for everyone, limits their effectiveness, and often proves to be their professional undoing. Robert Hogan applied a mental disorders’ taxonomy into organisational life. He identified eleven characteristics that limit star performers and causing despair to those around them. He calls these the “dark side” of personality.

Waldroop and Butler condensed these characteristics into six profiles of destructive behaviour patterns they labelled ‘bad habits’. They use the term as a shorthand way of referring to deep-rooted psychological flaws. ‘Bad habits’ or ‘dark-side’ are not compulsions like nail biting, swearing, or smoking. Nor they apply to people who at one time or another bully colleagues, been too negative, or over argumentative. Instead, the terms refer to high performers whose psychological makeup translates into consistently problematic behaviour. Their ‘dark-side’ is a central component of their personality and informs the way they behave from day to day. I call it the ‘Empty Persona Syndrome’ as there is something shallow or missing in their character, that makes them all front, but without much substance. This chapter looks at four empty personas: (a) the Hero, (b) the Bulldozer, (c) the Rebel, and (d) the Pessimist.

Type #1: The Hero

The Heroes are the superhuman of the workplace. They take pride in solving any problem that crosses their way. They are naturally resourceful, capable, and competent in any work situation. 

The Heroes are driven by ‘Need for Achievement’. They thrive on ‘mission impossible’ challenges and spend their life in a rat race, moving from one target to another. The inner action voice that drives them is ‘Hurry Up’ – work quickly and deliver high output in a short time.

The Heroes always push themselves – and, by extension subordinates – working too hard, doing too much, and doing it for too long. Their strengths are achievement orientation, high energy level, ‘can-do’ attitude, efficiency, and fire-fighting. Their weaknesses are empathy to others, ability to reflect, attention to detailed work, reliability, and precision.

Typical behaviours of the Hero include: — First one to arrive at work and the last one to leave — Give up, cancel, or postpone vacation or holiday plans because of work commitment — Let down family members by not spending time with them, being always busy, or breaking promises — Volunteer to solve problems outside their job description — Fire emails to colleagues and clients at the early hours of the night — Have their BlackBerry or iPhone as an integral part of their anatomy.

The main root cause underlying the Heroes’ bad habits is Ego Centricity – An inability to understand the world from the perspective of other people. They have a difficulty getting outside their own frame of reference and seeing the world through another person’s eyes. The void in their persona comes from lack of empathy. Heroes may choose to work seven days a week. That’s their prerogative. But their expectations that others will have to follow suit lacks an appreciation of the other person’s values, drives, and personal circumstances. This unnecessary coercion to comply burns out employees and destroys their morale.

The Hero is often the last person a manager wants to change. After all, why would you want to tamper with the behaviour of someone who gets more done in a day than anyone else does in a week? Yet, in the long-run, the Hero’s constant push and drive adds real costs to the bottom line – even if those costs are obscured by short-term results. The Hero’s trail is covered with the footprints of valuable employees who are burned-out, disillusioned, frustrated and demoralised – or good employees who simply could not take it anymore and simply left the company after trying to keep up with the Hero’s superhuman efforts.

 Type #2: The Bulldozer

The second empty persona is the Bulldozer – Driven by need for power, they run roughshod over others in a quest for power. Bulldozers are people who decided early in life that the world is a hostile place where you should do unto others before they do unto you – plus interest, just to ensure that they get the message.

The Bulldozers are driven by ‘Need for Power’. The inner action voice that drives them is ‘Be Strong’. They cope with everything thrown their way. Their strengths are decisiveness, getting things done, firmness, and crisis management. Their weaknesses are lack of sensitivity, openness, and an ability to express passion and emotion.

Typically, the Bulldozers: — Do not take prisoners — Show willingness to make tough decisions and stand behind them — Have an inflated self-importance — Display control-freak tendencies – need to be on top of everything — Detest and do not tolerate weakness, indecisiveness, and dependency — Are independent-minded.

The underlying psychological process that causes the Bulldozer’s bad habits is a failure to recognise when and how to use power. Most people feel a deep ambivalence about the use of power. These feelings stem from unconscious fears of our capacity for destructiveness. The Bulldozers are quite different. They are very clear and decisive about the use of power. They believe in ‘use it or lose it’. They are all too happy to obtain power and then exercise it bluntly as if they were waving a club rather than skilfully and delicately as if they were using a surgeon’s scalpel. The Bulldozers’ lack of trust and fear of being cheated, taken advantage of, ignored, criticised, or treated unfairly causes them to fear that if they will not take control, others will control them.

While the Bulldozers deliver results, they do it with a great expense. Their pathway is littered with terrified and bullied employees. They intimidate and alienate everyone in their path. They don’t trust others, and others don’t trust them.

Type #3: The Rebel

The Rebel, the third empty persona, automatically fights against authority and convention. Workplace rebels tend to be quite conventional in their knee-jerk reactions against the status quo. Even though they view themselves as radical and revolutionaries, most of their protests against “the system” don’t go beyond simple complaining and moaning – they rarely take action to change the things that bother them.

The Rebels are driven by ‘Need for Aggression’. Their rebellion is a form of passive aggressive act, where the aggression is hidden behind an over-righteous concern for the organisation.

Typically, Rebels: — Argue for the sake of arguing — Enjoy shocking colleagues with provocative statements — Fancy themselves as independent thinkers — Take a contrary point of view in a group situation — Seem energised by getting into a heated argument — Often clash with people in position of authority — Always ask the inappropriate questions in meetings — Constantly make jokes about the company’s management — Publicly question the motives behind any major change.

The psychological process that underlines the Rebel’s bad habit is a failure to come to terms with authority. As in the case of using power, most people are ambivalent about authority – moving between the need to belong (being part of a larger entity) to the need to be unique. The third debilitating psychological process is being stuck in one of the extremes. At one end are those who defy authority in every possible instance and in every possible way. At the other end are those who are overly deferential: ‘If top management says it’s true, it must be’. The rebels are stuck in the first extreme.

The Rebels exhaust, tire, and wear-out their colleagues with their constant challenge, arguing, criticising, and moaning. There is something over-righteous about them that is unappealing and causes others avoid them. Their insistent criticism of the system, management, and anything else, drains the energy from others. When the Rebels are challenged, they become very defensive, try to build a coalition against the ‘enemy’, and by doing so, they create bad atmosphere in the workplace and a ‘them and us’ culture.

Type #4: The Pessimist

The Pessimist focuses on the downside of every change; always worries about what could go wrong rather than considering how things could improve. “We’ve always done it this way.” This is the way of the Pessimist, the fourth empty persona, to crush their colleagues’ initiatives and keep the status quo. The Pessimists have nothing but the best intentions in mind. Their goal is to preserve the organisation from the harm that could come to it because of ill-advised change. The problem is that Pessimists think that nearly every change is ill advised. While at times the Pessimists’ worries are justified – more frequently, though, they simply stifle creativity and block fruitful opportunities.

Unlike the other types that are motivated by a specific need, the Pessimists are driven by fear of failure. They cannot tolerate the shame of being wrong or inadequate.

Typically, Pessimists tend to: — Master the ‘Yes-But’ argument — Display extremely cautious behaviour — Spend more times analysing than any other type before committing to action — Be highly indecisive — Dislike making mistakes and focus on minimising them — Be reluctant to speak up when disagreeing – Be extremely slow to make decisions.

The root cause underlying the Pessimists’ bad habits is a negative self-image. The low esteem is a painful experience and results in attempts to prevent any likelihood for it to occur in the future. Consequently, they direct all their energy to avoidance of any situation that can result in failure.

The risk-averse nature of the Pessimist equates to paralysis by analysis – a debilitating indecisiveness that causes others enormous frustration. The avoidance of shame can spread insidiously throughout an organisation’s culture, becoming an unconscious modus operandi that has disastrous results for the company’s capacity to innovate and take risks. Creative, energetic, and change-driven employees find this type of environment suffocating, and they tend to vote with their feet – seeking a more dynamic and leading edge employer.

Managing the Empty Personas

Changing the empty personas behaviour is a delicate matter. After all, you want them to continue to do all the good things they’ve been doing. At the same time, you have to let them know the implications of their behaviour in terms of the impact it has on the business’s bottom line. That would come as a shock, as they see themselves as great contributors.

The Hero

The Heroes are driven by activity – they like being busy and tend to fire fight. As such, they produce tremendous short-term results, but their long-term ones are neglected. The key to change the Heroes’ behaviour is by focusing them on thinking more about winning the war and less about the individual battles. The Heroes are extremely competitive – therefore, giving them a challenge will focus their mind. The only difference is that the challenge will be articulated as a long-term strategic proposition, rather than an immediate issue that need to be resolved. A good General knows when to pull back to fight another day. Accordingly, you should reward the hero for actions that demonstrate a long-term focus and ignore or at least underplay any short-term achievements. Furthermore, express displeasure with any activities that are oriented towards short-term gains (e.g., fire-fighting, working silly hours, putting heroic efforts to complete proposals in time, etc.). Consider the following as an example of typical pep talk or a coaching conversation with a Hero –

“You have proved yourself as an exceptional implementer – but to progress and gain the appreciation you deserve, you need to show the ability to operate at a higher level. Everyone is impressed and convinced by your dedication and ability to solve problems and handle crises, but where you haven’t proved yourself, is with your ability to create and execute a well-thought through long-term strategic plan. Unless you will do that, you will be pigeon-holed as a fire-fighter or a crises manager. That might be a rewarding experience to start with, but for someone with your capabilities, it will not be enough. After a while you will get frustrated, seeing other overtaking you, as you haven’t learn to adjust your ways…

Furthermore, the intensity in which you operate is costly both to yourself and others. I keep hearing continuous complaints about working long hours and weekends, and expecting others to do the same…

You are a high-achiever; here is a challenge for you. Try to achieve the same results working 8 hours a-day, five days a-week, instead of 70 hours a-week. I bet that you will find that it is possible. It is only a matter of focusing the mind. If you allow yourself 70 hours a week, you will fill the 70 hours with activities. However, if you know that you only have 40 working hours per week, you will become far more focus, effective and efficient. If you achieve that, your home life will improve, your productivity will increase, your thinking will be sharper and clearer, and your ability to see beyond the end of your nose will increase significantly – as for the first time you will have time to reflect…”

The Bulldozer

Bulldozers are often reluctant to change a style that in their eyes is highly effective. So to change a bulldozer, you have to demonstrate that on balance, the liabilities resulting from overall approach used by the Bulldozer outweigh the returns.  Start the coaching conversation by asking the Bulldozer if s/he has any idea how many enemies s/he has created within the company. Follow this with a powerful line: ‘If I put it to a vote, there’s no question – you’d be fired.’

A bulldozer will typically protest – ‘I haven’t reached and achieved what I have by being soft and nice.” The right response is: “Look, I don’t care if you think you’re the gentlest person on earth. It doesn’t even matter if I agree, because other people don’t. And it’s like being a stand-up comedian – if you think you’re funny but the audience doesn’t, you’re not.”

You need to be able to spell out the ins and outs of the cost of the Bulldozer’s behaviour to the organisation.

“We have eight people in the team. Each highly capable – yet, because of your approach, we don’t utilise them hundred percent. If in a brainstorm, eighty percent of the ideas come from you – it is no indication that you are ever so clever, and the others operate a much lower level than yourself. It is merely because the others are either too scared to talk, or not given a chance as you bulldoze them. What it means in financial terms is that I might utilise you for hundred percent, but only get ten to twenty percent out of the capability of the others. That’s not just a waste, this is economically unviable. It is a no brainer – it makes more sense to take you off the team and get the best out of seven people, that to have you, and have the others under-utilised…

In the last couple of years, we lost three good people. What I gather from the exit interviews is that many blamed the atmosphere you have created in the work place as the cause for their departure.  At the level in which they were operating the direct cost for replacing them (recruitment campaign, head hunter costs, etc.) is about thirty percent of their annual salary. The indirect cost associated with lost opportunities, time it takes the new recruit to reach an optimal performance level, disruption… is five time higher.  So, your behaviour is costing me a fortune… I am not denying that you are giving us fantastic returns, but the cost of getting these returns is far too high… What would you do if you were in my position? …”

The Rebel

Rebels enjoy most a game of tug of war. So the first tactic managing them is to turn things on their head. Instead of being the one who challenges, the Rebel is the one who is being challenged. A typical coaching conversation with a Rebel could start with a blunt and direct question –

“I have noticed that you tend to be very critical and challenging of the way we do things here. Are you happy here? Are you thinking of quitting? … You always seem to be butting up against the limits, venting your frustration, and putting the organisation down… bad mouthing management…

You say that this is just the way you are talking, or that you were just kidding around. I don’t buy that. And in any event, the things you say hurt people and it is exasperating listening to the constant barrage of criticism.

But more to the point – you seem to think that a lot of things around here should be changed. Well here is a challenge for you – An opportunity to prove that there is substance behind your words. It is very easy to criticise, it is a different matter to offer a clever solution. If you’re going to battle the counter-productive aspects of the ‘regime’, I want to see you coming out with a well thought through specific initiative or a plan of action, rather than taking the easy option of standing on the side lines and criticising. You can then present it to the Board, and be prepared to be challenged about it. So think it through very well and be ready to defend it. You will need to convince your audience that the benefits of adopting your initiative outweigh the costs implementing it.

 You have a choice. You can work to change things here or you can follow you old pattern and just be an irritant. If you choose the later, your career will stall and your influence on the organisation will never amount to much. I hope you make the other choice, because you’re right – this place isn’t perfect, and we need people like you to help improve it.”

The Pessimist

Like the Rebel’s constant criticism, the Pessimist constant resistance to change, can be irksome, annoying, and exasperating. After a while, people stop taking notice, and treat the Rebel or the Pessimist as irritating noise in the background. This is the line of argument to take in the coaching conversation with the Pessimist. Pointing out that as in the children’s story of the boy who cried wolf, the impact of the constant alarms is diminishing.

“It is okay to worry, but it’s important that your fears do more than guard the status quo. They should have a constructive edge.

I have been listening to your arguments closely over the last couple of months, and the pattern that emerged for me is that your risk evaluation is biased. You ignore both the potential upside of change, as well as failing to consider the downside of doing nothing.

In the future, when a change initiative is proposed, you should draw a two-by-two matrix that looks at the pros and cons of making the change as well as the pros and cons of doing nothing. By making this systematic consideration of initiatives into a routine, you will be forced into more objective risk analysis… Furthermore, I am willing to protect you from every kind of risk except one. If you try something new and fail, I’ll take the blame. If you try something new and succeed, you’ll get the credit. But if I find that you’re refusing to take risks or getting in the way of others who have good ideas, you’ll be held accountable.”


Waldroop, J. & Butler, T. (2000). Managing away bad habits. Harvard Business Review, 78, no. 5 (September – October).

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Working with You Is Killing Me: Part #1

by Dr Tuvia Melamed on Mar.21, 2010, under Working with You Is Killing Me

Working with You Is Killing Me #1

 Dr Tuvia Melamed
ClearWater A&D
to download a pdf copy click here


Being Hooked – The 1st Emotional Trap

The workplace is a volatile environment inhabited by emotional creatures who often rub each other the wrong way. Scratch the rational surface of any company, and you will find a breeding ground of negative emotions – anxiousness about performance, anger with colleagues, resentment with management, and stress and burnout from pressuring targets.

The first chapter in this series relates to being emotionally hooked.

Meet, Claudia {a fictitious name – but a real person} – a highly successful and powerful senior executive, but also a nightmare to work with.  I was engaged by the non-exec Board of a professional services firm to coach Claudia. The request came after continuous resentment and complaints from her colleagues coupled with an unprecedented level of resignations from members of her team. Confidential exit interviews revealed that the main reason people gave for leaving the secure job with the reputable firm was that “working with her, is killing me”.

At her best, Claudia tends to be very enthusiastic about, and work hard on, new products. She brings a sense of energy, dynamism, and urgency to new projects. At her worst, she is extremely hard to please and she is high maintenance – requiring a lot of handholding and reassurance. Claudia’s character is exemplified by inappropriate anger coupled with unstable and intense relationships that alternate between passion and idealisation to deflation and devaluation. Psychometric analysis of her profile revealed that Claudia expects to be disappointed in relationships. She anticipates being cheated, ignored, criticised, or treated unfairly. Consequently, she is constantly on guard for signs that others have treated, or will treat, her badly. In business, this translates to being sharp, on top of things and hard to fool. However, when she thinks that she has been mistreated, she erupts in emotional display that may involve losing her temper, yelling from one end of the office to the other, or sulking for days. Because she is so alert for signs of mistreatment, she finds them everywhere, even when others cannot see them. The distinctive emotional tantrums of Claudia make her unpredictable – It is hard to know when she is going to erupt, and what this eruption would look like. Furthermore, because she is so edgy and self-centred she is unrewarding to deal with. As a result of her unpredictability and edginess, she has trouble building and maintaining a team.

Claudia does not handle stress, pressure, failure, disappointment, or criticism very well, and she tends to ‘melt down’ rather easily. It does not take much for her to turn from being passionate and enthusiastic to becoming disheartened. In her history of relationships, she has been so easily disappointed, and when disappointed, her first instinct was to withdraw or leave. A key to understanding Claudia is her extreme degree of self-centricity. All information and experience is filtered through the lense of what does it mean for her personally, and she takes every comment, gesture, and expression of others personally. She personalises everything, but she does it privately, so all that others see and experience are the emotional outbursts, the sulkiness, and the tendency to withdraw.

Now consider others’ experience working with Claudia. Those working with her may feel that they have to be careful in all their interactions with her with the fear of offending her. Those reporting to her often feel that live in a constant state of terror, finding that they spend more time managing their relationship with her, than concentrating on their job. It is common for them to start their day wondering in what mood Claudia is, as her mood may affect the rest of their day. Their decisions when to request or negotiate a budget for their projects or initiatives, is not driven by the business environment, but by her daily mood. In a series of 360-degree interviews, those working for her suggested that the way of remaining sane, is to provide her with plenty of reassurance, keep her informed to minimise surprises, and give her a lot of previews so she knows what is coming. The general principle of handling her is the equivalent of trying to sooth a fretful child.

Being Hooked

The first emotional trap is that of being hooked – having a consistent irritable reaction to someone or something at work – i.e., whenever we come across this person or this thing at work, we feel irritated, annoyed, anxious, frustrated…

Being hooked means feeling trapped in relationships, positions, roles, and situations that drain our energy, invade our thoughts, keep us awake at night and make us feel stuck in no-win positions.

Here are some additional examples: Having someone ‘stealing’ your ideas and taking credit for them # having constant complaints from a particular customer who is never satisfied # being bombarded with unstoppable work demands # being forced to use an inefficient centralised template or system

The symptoms of being hooked are any of the followings:

  • Incompetence – Is there someone at work whose incompetence drives you mental?
  • Restrictive Interdependency – Is there someone at work on whom you depend to do your work, and whose way of operating prevents you from progressing your work?
  • Maladaptive Behaviour – Is there someone at work whose irrational behaviour wears on your nerves?
  • Withdrawal Reactions – To cope with stress at work, do you engage in excessive eating, alcohol drinking, watching TV, or using mind altering substances?

Businesses expect professional and non-emotional behaviour from its employees. Yet, many circumstances at work give rise to strong emotions. Individuals that are in such situation, feel trapped, stuck in a losing game. They cannot free themselves from the bad situation, and their emotions remain unexpressed and suppressed. They feel that the only two options open for them are either ‘suck it up’ or ‘quit’.

This experience of feeling caught in an emotionally distressing work situation is labelled being hooked. It is manifested in consistently having a strong negative internal reaction to someone (or something) at work. The degree of being hooked can vary from a mild irritation (such as a reaction to a colleague tone of voice) to a severe emotional breakdown (such as the inability to cope with line manager’s irrational behaviour).

The normal and common reaction when being hooked is activated (i.e., when someone else’s behaviour irritates us) is to blame our irritation and emotional responses on that person’s behaviour – but that doesn’t solve anything. We are still kept hooked.  The way out is to re-frame and manage our internal emotional responses first – i.e., controlling our automatic reaction that someone else’s behaviour triggered inside us. The principle here is simple – If we can control our emotional reaction, we can liberate ourselves from being hooked.

The process of changing our emotional response to irritating circumstances is termed unhooking. As opposed to feeling insulted by the constant need to chase a customer who will not return your calls, you can unhook by not taking it as a personal rejection and accepting it as part of doing business, where the customer is ‘king’. Instead of getting irritated by the incompetence of your colleague, you can unhook by changing your expectations and taking corrective actions to prevent the negative impact of that person’s ineptitude. Rather than despising the malicious office gossip, you can unhook by setting clear boundaries and showing no interest.

Easier said than done – not necessarily.

There are four simple steps to unhooking that help you release the negative emotions and stay calm, while taking specific actions to change your experience.

  • Physical action:  This step aims to release the negative energy caused by being hooked. As emotional discomfort produces shallow breath, you start by focusing on your breathing, and consciously breathing deeply and gently. If possible, engage in some physical activity such as walking round the block. This helps releasing the physical sensation associated with the negative emotion of being hooked.
  • Mental Reframing: Here you try to look at your situation from a different perspective, view your circumstances objectively, and evaluate the practical options open to you. At this step your rational part of the brain takes over from the emotional one. Ask yourself:
    • What is happening here? – e.g., my invoice is overdue again (for the last five consecutive times), the client’s finance manager  did not pay the invoice I have raised, she ignored all my last two ‘gentle reminders’ emails, and she did not return my call
    • What are the facts? – e.g., I need the invoice cleared within seven days to pay my suppliers
    • What part did the other person play in it? – e.g., She is disorganised, lacks respects for others, and does not care about anyone else but herself
    • How did I contribute to what has happened? – e.g., I take her incompetence and lack of response personally, I try to pacify her by using a very gentle approach, it stops me from wanting to do more work for this client
    • What are my realistic options? – e.g., I can stop personalising her bad attitude; she does not reject me, she is just dismissive of all suppliers; I can acknowledge her feeling of being very busy and under pressure from many suppliers and agree with her to send her a reminder a week before the invoice is due; I can ask to meet with the client and agree a process of timely payment of invoices; I can agree with the client a penalty close for late payment
  • Verbal Expression: This is a proactive action aiming to restructure the situation that causes you grief. The verbal expression requires you to focus on the overall goal as opposed to remaining stuck in the petty details. The aim is to express information in a manner that resolves problems rather than perpetuating them. As such, the verbal expression should contain no judgement, no blame, no accusations, no pointing finger, and no anger or any other negative emotion. It means taking responsibility for your own part of the situation. The verbal expression is not about a compromise, or about being nice. It is about clear, direct, and effective communication that allows the listener to hear you and consider your suggestions. Thus, instead of fuelling your own frustration regarding the late payment of invoices, you can approach the client and / or the finance manager, and ask: “How can I help you get the invoices paid on time? – … I can alert you a week before they are due … I can arrange a direct debit from your account…”
  • Toolbox Utilisation: This step is the equivalent of introducing a third-party to support your argument. Here we utilise simple business tools that either measures certain behaviours, create a behavioural benchmark, or disseminate information. The toolbox includes amongst others: job description # goal setting document # performance reviews # policies and procedures # disciplinary actions forms # memo, emails, and letters # meetings’ agenda # documentation.
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Working with You Is Killing Me

by Dr Tuvia Melamed on Mar.21, 2010, under Series, Working with You Is Killing Me

Working with You Is Killing Me

 Dr Tuvia Melamed
ClearWater A&D
to download a pdf copy click here

The series ‘Working with You Is Killing Me’ is a set of seven interlinked articles looking at managing the dark side of colleagues at work, and freeing oneself from the work-based emotional traps. The series draws on the work of, and gives credit to, Katherine Crowley and Kathi Elster, whose exceptional book ‘Working with You Is Killing Me’ was the inspiration for this series.

The series includes seven blogs:

  • Part #1 – Being Hooked – Emotional Trap: The first chapter of the 7-part series. This chapter explores the emotional trap of ‘Being Hooked’ – having a consistent irritable reaction to someone or something at work – i.e., whenever we come across this person or this thing at work, we feel irritated, annoyed, anxious, frustrated… Being hooked means feeling trapped in relationships, positions, roles, and situations that drain our energy, invade our thoughts, keep us awake at night and make us feel stuck in no-win positions.
  • Part #2 – The Empty Persona: “I was here on Saturday afternoon. Where were you?” This kind of “subtle” pressure to work 24/7 is typical of the ‘Hero’ – one of the four characters featuring in this chapter of ‘Working with You Is Killing Me’. This chapter focuses on those colleagues who drive you crazy; yet you find it very difficult to challenge or to tackle them, simply because they are star performers. But they are star performers with a dark-side – they have a seemingly fatal personality flow or a psychological limitation that colours their achievements, holds them back, and makes the life of others a misery
  • Part #3 – Fatal Attraction: When you first met, you felt drawn to that person; you were excited at the prospect of working together – there was something about that person that fulfilled a strong inner need within you. However, over time, interactions with this person left you emotionally exhausted and professionally frustrated – by now, you are dreading the next interaction. You spend your days and sleepless nights running conversations in your head, trying to understand the other person, thinking of ways of bringing the relationships to what it was in the past – but with no avail. No matter what you do, you cannot steer the relationships back to its vibrant beginning.
  • Part #4 – Managing Upward
  • Part #5 – Managers’ Emotional Baggage and Insecurities
  • Patt #6 – Managing Down
  • Part #7 – Case Studies
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The Dark Side of Leadership

by Dr Tuvia Melamed on Mar.16, 2010, under Articles

We are looking for People with the Potential to Fail…

 Dr Tuvia Melamed
ClearWater A&D
to download a pdf copy click here


The Dark Side of Leadership — On the route to become a major liability… 

Everyone is looking for people with the potential to be successful – but there are some roles, where the potential of getting it wrong, can outweigh the benefits of having a high potential, high performer in place. The reality is that in many cases, those who turn out to be a major liability, give an impressive impression of high potential and high capability. This paper looks at the HR² phonomenon – the High-Risk — High-Return individuals.

Remember Gerald Ratner, the entrepreneur who created the multi-million jewellery business, and in one statement (“People say. ‘How can you sell this for such a low price?’ I say, because it’s total crap”) wiped out an estimated £500m from the value of the company. How about Nick Lesson? – The golden boy of Bearing Bank, whose actions resulted in the sale of the 200-year establishment for £1.

It is not just the colourful characters that hit the news that can become a liability. In August 2007, British Airways was fined £270 million after it admitted that one of its senior managers tried to colluding with Virgin Atlantic over fuel surcharges and price-fixing on cargo flights.

So think about those high hitters who leave carnage behind them. It is a very difficult to challenge or argue against them; let alone stop them. As from performance perspective, they close major deals, lead complex projects to successful completion, create innovative products, attract clients, and deliver spectacular operational and financial results. Organisations try to learn to live with their shortfalls and justify it by saying that the business depends on them for its success. This is probably true, but only up to a certain point. In the long-term they can cause unacceptable collateral damage, and might bring the organisation to ‘its knees’. In safety-critical industries such as oil exploration, aviation, and medical care, there is plenty of evidence that such disruptive behaviour can cause life-threatening errors.

There are several reasons as to why do talented people derail in spite of their brilliance, and why they do not address their weaknesses before they cause havoc. One of the most common reasons is their lack of insight. They dismiss potential weaknesses as unimportant, redefine them as part of their ‘charm’, ‘style’ or even ‘secret of success’, and blame others for “overreacting”. What’s more, It is customary in many organisations to approve such actions by subscribing to cultural statements such as “I didn’t get where I am today by taking the soft approach or by being nice to people”; “we could do with a bit of backbone” or “It’s time we told it to people as it is – they need to know what is what”.

There is an organisational trap here – I call it HR² – it is an acronym for ‘High-Risk – High-Return’. The challenge for organisations with such high-risk high-return individuals is to retain their talents whilst minimising the damage they cause along the way.

The Center for Creative Leadership (McCall and Lombardo) researched executives who were viewed as technical gurus or tenacious problem solvers, but under demanding job pressures their strengths turned into liabilities that become costly and highly noticeable for the organisation. The study identified four sets of characteristics that can lead to such derailment – these were: (a) problems with interpersonal relationships (such as arrogance, aloofness, coldness and detachment); (b) problems with execution of business objectives (such as betraying trust, failure to follow through); (c) problems with inability to lead a team; and (d) problem with managing change or adapting to transition (such as limited strategic capacity; over-controlling). Likewise, Robert Hogan, one of the leading figures in the study of leadership derailment, used taxonomy of mental disorders that manifest themselves in a subtle way in organisational life and in the behaviour of derailed leaders. He categorised the characteristics that derail high flyers’ careers and cause negative consequences for their organisation into eleven derailing characteristics. He calls these the “dark side” of personality – the characteristics that are not normally apparent but which emerge when an individual is under great pressure (see the following table).

  Description On a Good Day Limitations
Excitable Inappropriate anger. Intense and unstable relationships, alternating between idealisation and devaluation. Clinical Term – Borderline Personality Passion; Empathy; Energy; Enthusiasm; Concern Volatility;  Emotional explosiveness; Emotional instability
Sceptical Distrustful and suspicious of others; Conspiracy theory oriented; Motives are interpreted as malevolent. Clinical  Term – Paranoia Shrewd; Insightful; Social and political insight; Critical analysis; Sharpness Cynicism; Negativity; Excessive suspicion; Blame; Draining energy from others
Cautious Social inhibition; Feeling of inadequacy; Hyper-sensitivity to criticism or rejection. Clinical Term – Avoidance Risk assessment; Voice of reason; Devil’s advocate Indecisiveness; Paralysis by analysis; Risk-averse;
Reserved Emotional coldness and detachment from social relationships; Indifference to praise and criticism. Clinical Term – Schizoid Emotional unflappability;  Focus; Concentration; Productivity Not gaining buy-in; Poor communication; Insensitive; Failing to get the best from others
Scheming Passive resistance to social and occupational performance; Irritation when asked to do something they do not want to do. Clinical  Term – Passive Aggressive Good social skills; Diplomatic; Political astuteness Passive aggression; Manipulation; Stubbornness; Killing initiatives
Bold Arrogance; Haughty behaviours or attitudes; Grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement.  Clinical Term – Narcissism Charisma; Conviction; confidence; Courage; Energy; Untouchable mentality Arrogance; Belief in own press; Overbearing; Lack of remorse; Inability to learn from mistakes
Mischievous Disregard for the truth; Impulsivity and failure to plan ahead; Failure to conform to social norms.  Clinical Term – Antisocial Risk taker; Challenging; Charming; Mission impossible; Reckless; Deceitful; Morally bankrupted; Uncontrolled impulsivity; Steals the glory
Colourful Excessive emotionality and attention Seeking; Self-dramatisation; Theatrical and excessive emotional expression. Clinical Term – Hysteria Risk taker; Pushes boundaries; Challenging; Engaging; Impactful Impulsive and distractable; Prima-donna
Imaginative Odd belief or magical thinking; Eccentricity; Behaviour or speech that are odd or peculiar. Clinical Term – Schizotypal Creativity; Vision; Radical  innovation; Step change Unrealistic ideas; No consolidation; dismissal of best practice; No continuous improvement
Diligent Obsessive occupation with structure, orderliness, process, rules, control and procedures; Perfectionism. Clinical Term – Obsessive Compulsive High standards; Reliability; Good role model Control freak;  Micro-managing; Pure operational; not strategic
Dutiful High maintenance. Difficulty making simple decisions without advice or excessive reassurance; Difficulty expressing disagreement out of fear of loss of support; Excessive need to please. Clinical Term – Dependent Loyalty; Organisational commitment; Hard worker; Customer service; Polite Spineless; Good No.2 – Not a No. 1; Pushover; Inability to challenge authority

An Illustrative Case Study

ClearWater has recently supported a professional services firm going through a major operational and cultural change. Key to this change was M – An equity holding Managing Partner in the firm. M was in charge of a Strategic Business Unit (SBU) that included several diverse businesses. M’s biggest challenge was to create a cohesive SBU with clear identity and well-defined ‘routes to market’ strategy that builds on leverages among the diverse business units within the larger SBU. This was a difficult challenge as the different business units had a long history of independent operation without a broad umbrella. This challenge was vital to the Professional Services firm as the recession and tough economic market, made it difficult for many of the business units to break-even, let alone, make profit.

M’s rise to the Head of SBU position was a combination of five factors – An earlier success in winning a massive three-year contract with a highly respectable client; a tough, uncompromising, honesty and integrity; a down-to-earth, practical and pragmatic, no-nonsense approach; strong drive and ambition to succeed; and extreme dedication and commitment to the firm. Clearly, M’s role was critical to the future of the firm as the driving force behind the relatively new SBU, but the results were not coming in, performance targets were not met. Not used to failure, M doubled his effort in doing what he knows best and what proved a success in the past – Pushing and challenging the business units and individuals within them, closely monitoring and measuring their performance, setting tough targets and re-visiting them regularly, demanding total dedication and high standards, forcing central rules and procedures to standardise operations… But the results still did not materialise. The SBU was operating as a random amalgamation of independent and diverse business units, there were no significant cross-selling or collaborative projects, no leverages were realised among the different business units, and the financial results were behind agreed targets. Furthermore, the cost to colleagues was becoming a concern – the common joke/complain regarding M was “working with you is killing me”. Resignations of senior players were common occurrence, morale was low, and the two waves of compulsory redundancies initiated by M, made the SBU a depressing place to work. Many spent their time, buying time, before jumping ship.

The CEO sought our advice. Our assessment was that M’s profile was not suitable for a strategic integrative role. His skills were more as an entrepreneurial sole operator. The tough uncompromising style that made M a success in the first place, was likely to do more harm than good. More specifically M displayed two extreme ‘dark-side’ personality traits – ‘Diligence’ and ‘Reserved’.  These made M highly focused, tough and uncompromising, yet, under pressure they also brought the worst out of him. The strong operational focus with limited strategic perspective associated with high ‘Diligence’, meant an inability to create a cohesive and coherent vision for the SBU as a whole. When results were not emerging, M revert to the typical ‘Diligence’ approach of ‘try harder’ rather than ‘try something different’; ‘micro-manage’ rather than ‘seek innovation’, and ‘enforce compliance’ rather than ‘learn from local practices’. Furthermore, the ‘Reserved’ style meant strong focus on targets, but failure to gain buy-in to overall operational strategy. It resulted in forcing top-down decisions, while failing to properly communicate the rationale for them. It demanded compliance, while being insensitive to localised specific issues.

At a series of feedback meetings involving the Managing Partner and the CEO – it become clear that M’s strengths are not fully utilised in this role. The SBU was re-structured, the senior roles were re-defined. An additional Managing Partner was brought in to manage an element of it, and M’s role was re-defined around his strengths.

The HR² Approach

The HR² approach is used both to inform selection decision into high-risk positions, and development of managers that show signs of derailment. From a selection perspective, it stops the High-Risk High-Return slip through the net. It prevents the case of finding how disruptive they could be when it is far too late… From a development perspective, it offers a clear framework to manage and develop such individuals.

The approach places great importance on three things—an accurate pin-pointed diagnosis, a buy-in and involvement of all key stakeholders, and pragmatism.

HR² is a sophisticated 1-day intensive 1-to-1 psychological assessment, that has been scientifically developed and designed to target and ensure, that the people who are totally wrong, potential liability, or potentially damaging to your organisation, cannot … and do not … slip the radar. The 1-day diagnosis involves an in-depth semi structured interview, the completion of psychometric questionnaires, a business simulation exploring the ability to handle complexity, psychological exploration. Additional input that informs the diagnosis and prognosis includes: (a) the contextual factors that have influence over the individual and the situation; and (b) the challenges the organisation is facing now and in the future.

The HR² assessment explores four inter-dependent building blocks:

  • THINKING – Cognitive biases generated by Thinking Style and limitations in managing complexity
  • BEHAVIOUR – Maladaptive habitual behavioural acts
  • PERSONALITY – The interface between the bright side of personality and the emerging dark side
  • EMOTION – The distorted defence mechanisms used to handle emotional dispositions

When used for development, the 1-day diagnosis is followed by a series of 1-to-1 feedback session and a 3-way session involving the individual and their line manager. These sessions are used to draw a practical and pragmatic action plan and a personal development plan. In many instances this involves a mixture of structural changes to the organisation, the contextual setting, or the manager’s role, with a personal development programme for the individual. The pragmatic development programme offers a blend of ‘damage limitation’ interventions focusing the prevention of damage caused by derailing tendencies, with ‘strengths enhancement’ interventions where the individual gains insight to the ways they can best utilise their profile and their unique strengths.

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Damage Limitation

by Dr Tuvia Melamed on Jan.24, 2010, under Articles

Preventing Liability and Derailment

Dr Tuvia Melamed

ClearWater A&D
to download a pdf copy click here

After being extradited to the remote Elba Island in 1814, Nahpoleon did not waste time feeling a sense of remorse for the half-million French families mourning their lost ones who died in the Napoleonic Wars. What history books provide us with is a detailed account of a relentless leader planning his comeback with devastaiting effects for the French nation. Using this anecdote and other examples, this paper explores the dynamics of executive derailment, and offers pragmatic ways to minimise the potential damage that weaknesses bring about.

Everyone is looking for people with the potential to be successful – but for most roles, the potential of getting it wrong, can outweigh the benefits of high potential. In many cases, those who ended up being a major liability, gave an impressive initial impression associated with drive, ambition, potential and high capability.

How about Nick Leeson? Barings Bank’s golden boy whose unsupervised dealing resulted in the sale of the 200-year establishment for £1.

Remember Gerald Ratner, the entrepreneur who set the multi-million jewellery business, and in one statement (“People say. ‘How can you sell this for such a low price?’ I say, because it’s total crap”) an estimated £500m was wiped from the value of the company.

Likewise, in August 2007, British Airways were fined £270 million after admitting that one of its senior managers tried to collude with Virgin Atlantic over fuel surcharges and price-fixing on cargo flights.

Think about these ‘walking time bombs’. In many cases it would be difficult to stop them ticking, simply because they display qualities that are associated with success and high performance. Many manage to slip through the net, disguised as high performers, and you don’t find out how disruptive, or even destructive they could be, until it is too late…

This article is about understanding those hidden negative attributes and preventing them emerging to the surface and becoming a liability.

The Practice of Leadership Development

I have been running leadership development and coaching programmes for nearly 20 years. When I started, the common focus of such programmes was around addressing deficiencies. Executives and leaders looked to the coach or the facilitator for a quick fix – How can I become more assertive? How can I turn into a visionary leader? What do I need to do to show more charisma and exert my authority? How can I transform my thinking and actions from operational to strategic? …

The domineering notion was that great leaders have certain ‘leader-like’ qualities. Coaching and leadership developments were seen as methodologies of mapping the executive’s profile against this ‘leader-like’ framework, and focusing on closing the gaps between the person’s profile and the ideal profile. The message was “if you keep working away your non-talents, your persistence will pay off in the end”. Superficially this provides a solid, if cliched piece of advice – “If at first you don’t succeed, keep on trying, again and again”. Yet, if the focus of a person’s life is to turn their non-talents to talents, then all they can look for is crushingly frustrating and unfulfilling life.

This approach focused on the negative – on correcting faults, on deficiencies – and as such it had an aura of being politically incorrect. In an era were HR managers taught to replace the term ‘weakness’ with ‘development opportunity’, this negativistic approach run out of steam and became slightly unfashionable. We soon saw the rise of a highly appealing alternative, fashioned by Martin Seligman’s ‘positive psychology’ and Gallop’s strengths builder (Buckingham & Coffman, 1999).

Leadership Development took a different turn. Rather than fixing what is wrong with us, it let us focus most of our efforts on our strengths, learn to better utilise them, gain leverage from them, and realise their full potential. As for the ‘weaknesses’, all we needed to do was damage limitation – i.e., learn few techniques to ensure that these weaknesses do not hinder our progress. In a much-quoted example, Gallop used Tiger Woods as a poster boy for this concept (Buckingham & Clifton, 2001). Apparently, Tiger Woods has fantastic long-game – his length with his irons and woods – is an exceptional strength, as is his putting. His ability to chip out of a bunker can be an issue. He is inconsistent compared to other top professionals (ranked 61st on the PGA ’saved sands’.) Consequently, he spends 90% of his training time perfecting his long shot and putting, and only 10% on chipping out of a bunker, ensuring that he does just enough to prevent it becoming an obstacle to achieving his goals – Knowing that what wins him his titles and prize money, is his long and short game.

The ‘positive’ approach quickly caught on and inspired many executives. At last they did not need to worry about their weaknesses, or learn skills that were alien to them. All they had to do was to focus on what they were good at – that sounded to many of them relatively easier, less taxing, and far more fun.

However, the reality of this .positive’ approach was, and is, less promising. All that it created was simply a shift in balance from weaknesses to strengths. Our developed leaders today, are not that much more capable and prepared for their leadership role, than those we encountered 20 years ago. I would like to argue that the reasons for it stem partially from the ways we define weaknesses and what we do about them.

Traditionally, weaknesses are viewed as deficiencies in desired characteristics. Hence, the developmental approach to handle these deficiencies was to teach leaders how to master these skills areas, creating a model for each skill area and practicing and working hard to gain the skill. Assertiveness training is a typical example of the deficiency model. Typically, leaders were trained to internalise and practice a 4-stage process until they mastered it. Doing so, meant in developmental terms, fixing the weakness and turning it into strength. The model stated:

  • Articulate the undesired behaviour displayed by the ‘aggressor’ – “For the last 3 weeks you have been parking in my car parking space”
  • Say what do you want – “I want you to stop parking in my space even if I am not here, or you are just stopping for a short while”
  • Explain why you want it – “This is my property which I’ve purchased, and I feel that you disregard my rights by doing so”.
  • Reiterate what you want – “From now on, I want you not to park in my designated car parking space under any circumstances”.

Although I have simplified the model and neglected some elements (e.g., tone of voice), in its essence, this is what development means when dealing with fixing a deficiency. Although this approach has its place and value, I struggle to see how it delivers the leaders’ expectations of turning a weakness to a talent.

The ‘positive’ approach shifted the balance towards strengths. It did not ignore weaknesses, simply gave them less ‘air time’. As in the case of Tiger Woods training regime, the weakness received just enough attention to warrant that the person can get-by without the need to master it. The focus was on compensating for the deficiency by, and masking it with, the talents and strengths the person does posses. Going back to the assertiveness example, the ‘positive’ approach would emphasise to the non-assertive leader that dwelling on the weakness is the wrong way forward. Better use of their time is identifying ways to fine-tune their strengths, to enable them to get closer to their objectives. As for minimising the negative impact of lack of assertiveness, the ‘Positive’ coach would advocate building on strengths such as ability to articulate ideas and interpersonal charm as ways of allowing the non-assertive leader to influence and shape the behaviour of the ‘aggressor’.

The reality was again somewhat disappointing. Being told to focus on strengths, leaders viewed it as a mandate to ignore or only pay a lip service to managing their weaknesses. As such, leaders may feel better about themselves, but the final outcome was only marginally better.

Ticking Time Bombs

The work of Bob Hogan, Marshall Goldsmith, and Morgan McHall offers a different line of thinking that departs from the definition of weaknesses as deficiencies (Hogan, 2007; Goldsmith, 2007, and McHall, 1998). Although recognising that people may have deficiencies, they prefer to view many weaknesses, as the possession of a negative trait or characteristic that can turn into a liability, rather than as lack of a desired skill. As such, we no longer talk about skills or lack of skills, but about a deeper layer that shapes the way we either utilise or misapply skills. That further emphasise the importance of the application of Damage Limitation as a key part of any personal development.

Consider the following classical case study of Horst W. Schroeder, the former Kellogg Co. President, who was fired after only nine months in role (as reported in the Wall Street Journal nearly twenty years ago (Gibson, 1989)). The German-born Schroeder had been Kellogg’s star for sixteen years. Schroeder started out as a controller in West Germany, and gained valuable cross-functional and cross-cultural exposure and experience, running operations in Europe, and then promoted to run all overseas operations. He consistently achieved impressive results, including successful introduction into North America, regardless of heated opposition of a popular European cereal Mueslix. He demonstrated an insightful understanding of the business and the market, and articulated an engaging corporate vision about growth during times of market share reduction.

With no doubt, Horst Schroeder had plenty of talent. If assessed against leadership competencies, he would have emerged victorious. His outstanding record of accomplishment suggests resilience, willingness to preserve in the face of tough opposition, and strong organisational commitment. His diverse cross-functional and cross-cultural experience and exposure made him a perfect match for the rapidly growing overseas markets. Likewise, his decisiveness coupled with his well-articulated corporate vision serve as a wake-up call for the relatively sleepy and somewhat complacent Midwestern culture of Kellogg. Indeed, if we list all of Horst Schroeder qualities on flipchart, few could predict the turn of events that followed.

The growing body of research and knowledge about executive derailment suggests that managers and executives who derailed brought highly impressive accomplishments and attributes to the fateful job. Hence, focusing on strengths, honing and perfecting them, is not sufficient. Unless, recognising that development is as much about neutralising negative traits (weaknesses) as it is about playing to one’s strengths, many talented executives are like a ticking time-bomb… waiting to explode.

Before exploring ways of defusing these ticking time bomb, it is worthwhile to understand the causes of derailment. There are three inter-dependent sets of factors that emerge within certain circumstances and lead to derailment:

  • Overstretched strengths turn into weaknesses
  • Blind spots matter
  • Success breads arrogance

Overstretched Strengths: Hogan’s outstanding work on the ‘dark-side’ of personality and its explicit link to executive derailment, offers a list of eleven measurable personality attributes, and regard them as overplayed strengths that turn into liabilities. Table #1 offers a list of strengths and their dark side, based loosely around the work of Hogan.

TABLE #1: Strengths Overstretched – The dark-side of Strengths
Enthusiastic – Passionate Excitable; Flippant, blowing hot and cold; Inconsistency; Mood swings; Lacks resilience; Loses heart when things go wrong
Analytical Capacity – Brilliance Devalues others’ contribution; Creates intellectual silos; Cynical; Excessively sceptical; Uses analytical sharpness to block initiatives; Can’t-Do attitude
Consciousness – Quality orientation Risk-averse; Paralysis-by-Analysis; Indecisiveness; Afraid to act; Inclined to create large staffs and over-resource
Results focused – Task oriented Detached; Insensitive; Dictatorial; Harsh; Fails to engage others; Fails to enlist support at crucial times; The sum is no more than the individual parts
Diplomatic Skills – Political Astuteness Manipulative; Passive-Aggressive; Too slick; Creates hidden agendas; Operates to own (covert) agenda; Untrustworthy; Does not address issues directly
Self-confidence – Leader Like Qualities Egocentric; Narcissistic; Believes own press; Fails to learn from mistakes; Wins at all costs to the business’s determent; Climbs on ‘dead bodies’ to reach top
Action oriented – Decisiveness Reckless; Impulsive; Lacks reflection; Confuses activity with productivity; Underplays quality for quantity; Takes unnecessary risks
Communication Skills – Influencing skills Prima-Donna; Superficial; Lacks substance; Emphasises form over function; Refuses to accept responsibility for mistakes; Creates a ‘blame culture’
Innovation – Strategic Capacity Airy-fairy; Unrealistic, Impractical; Wastes organisational resources; Sends the organisation on a fanciful ‘goose chase’; Misses on local markets
Diligence – Integrity and Values Control-freak; Cannot grow the business beyond a certain level; Holier than thou attitude; Rigid; Imposes personal standards on others
Customer-focused – Dutifulness Spineless; Can’t create breakthrough; Can’t control costs; Too conservative; Over-promises – Under delivers; Lacks independent judgement

Blind Spots Matter: The American Guru of executive coaching, Marshall Goldsmith, views weaknesses as bad habits that at some point become beyond mere irritation. These are flaws that were overlooked or laid dormant for long periods, in light of outstanding results or compensating strengths, but become central in the context of new circumstances.

Weaknesses do catch up. In his study of derailed executive, McHall identified insensitivity as the most commonly reported flaw amongst derailed executives, and one of the sharpest differentiators between derailed and successful executives (McHall, 1998).

Going back to our case study, Gibson (1989) describes Horst Schroeder as domineering, demanding, abrasive, unwilling to listen, abrupt, and intolerant of dissent. Yet, a highly impressive 16-year record of accomplishments overlooked these. It was not until he stumbled as president and needed the support of his subordinates that his alleged treatment of others became his nemesis.

Power, dominance, and intimidation can produce compliance, but also create enemies along the way – a horde of disgruntled employees, each keeping an account of all the times they have been mistreated, eagerly waiting to see the fall from grace of their aggressor. When the time is right, they cash on all these mistreatments, through lack of support at crucial junctures, passive aggressive acts, and counter-productive activities. Organisations are willing to excuse behavioural flaws as long as they get the desired results. Yet, at executive levels, alienating others is a recipe for a disaster, ensuring that good results are not sustained over time.

Goldsmith lists no less than twenty-one of behavioural habits that prevent successful leaders’ progress beyond their current position. The one that captures the notion of ‘Blind Spots Matter’, is what he calls ‘an excessive need to be me’. It relates to innate personal attributes that result in an ingrained set of behaviours, both positive and negative, that we think of as our inalterable essence – our identity.

If you are what I call a ‘last-minute.com person’ (– i.e., chronically disorganised, poor at attending appointments at time or meeting deadlines, struggles to run projects to schedule, does everything at the last minute, and never plans properly) – you mentally give yourself a pass every time you fail to meet others’ time expectations. “Hey, that’s me,” you tell yourself. “I have other qualities that compensate for it. It is part of my charm.” You find justifications and rationales for it – “Disorganisation is a sign of genius; of creativity”; “sometimes you need to take longer than planned” or “at times you need to go of on a tangent before you can find the right direction”. To change your habits would be going against the deepest, truest part of your being – going against the grain – It would be inauthentic.

Likewise, if you are a relentless procrastinator who habitually ruins other people’s timetables, you are doing so because you are true to yourself. You are exercising your right to be yourself. Over time, it becomes easy for you to cross the line and begin making a virtue of your flaws – simply because the flaws constitute what you think of as your identity. This misguided loyalty to our true natures – this ‘excessive need to be me’ – is the toughest obstacle to behavioural change, and is at the essence of a Blind Spot that matters.

Given the obvious danger that weaknesses pose, it raises the question why don’t people, particularly the talented ones, correct their weaknesses before they cause havoc? Why don’t they engage in damage limitation? The most obvious reason is that they haven’t yet been hurt by them. Because of the confidence generated by success and demonstrated strengths, it is easy to dismiss them as unimportant. Yet it goes deeper than that, and that leads to our third set of factors associated with derailment, namely, arrogance.

Success Breads Arrogance:Self-confidence that is a key ingredient in success can grow bloated by the success that fed it. A common feature of executives who derailed is that their confidence turned into arrogance. Many develop an ‘untouchable’ self-belief. While this adds to their charisma, it also instils a false sense of security. When challenged, it can result in poor judgement based on inflated assessment of own capability, and as in the case of Nick Leeson,  bringing down the executive and the whole business. Like Napoleon who believed that he can march to Moscow, because nobody can stop the unbeatable French army, or Hitler that repeated the same mistake over a century later, the consequences can be dire.

Hogan (2007) refers to executive arrogance as a narcissistic tendency. His description is of a self-confident person who seems fearless when facing difficult tasks, and will take charge in social situations. An executive with high career aspirations, who seeks leadership positions in every assignment, and gets annoyed if they are not forthcoming. Their superiors are impressed by their drive and energy. However, their confidence may exceed their performance capacity. They tend to overestimate their abilities and competencies, assumes they have the right answers and do not seek others’ input. Take more credit for success than is fair, and refuse to accept responsibility for failures. Their aggressive style may intimidate subordinates, possibly leading them to surround themselves with people who agree with them. They are hierarchical, feel entitled to leadership positions and demand to be treated with respect.

So strong is this arrogance and refusal to accept responsibility for failure that most executives  fail to learn from mistakes. Instead of repentance, or attempt to engage in damage limitation, they blame everyone else than themselves. Believe that they will get it right next time.

History books do not tell us about Napoleon feeling suicidal after being forced to abdicate to the remote Elba Island. Nor do they tell us about a sense of shame or guilt for initiating the invasion of Russia campaign that wrecked the French ‘Grand Armée’. Likewise, there is no account of a sense of remorse for the estimated half-million French families mourning their lost ones. What history books tell us is that while in exile, he ran Elba as a little country; he created a tiny navy and army, opened some mines, and helped farmers improve their land. However he became restless, and planed his comeback. Within a year he returned to France and regained control of the government in the Hundred Days (les Cent Jours) prior to his final defeat at Waterloo on 18 June 1815.

The same applies to Gerald Ratner and Nick Leeson. The first re-launched as GeraldOnline, the UK’s largest online jeweller, retailing “high quality” jewellery at discounted prices. Whereas as the second re-built his career on the back of the devastation caused to Barring Bank, emerging as a book writer, and a regular guest on the after-dinner speaking circuit.

How about O. J. Simpson, who planned to launch a book and a TV series named ‘If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened’, which puts a new spin on the link between arrogance and the term ‘getting away with murder’?

And what happened to Horst Schroeder, can the same set of factors be applied to him as well? – Read the following extract (box #1) from the Associated Press (2006) and judge for yourself

Box #1: On Success, Arrogance, and Weaknesses that Matter
Schroeder quits American Italian board – January 27, 2006KANSAS CITY, Mo. – American Italian Pasta Co. said Friday that former Chairman Horst Schroeder has resigned from the company’s board of directors… Schroeder was named chairman in 1991 when he came to American Italian from Kellogg Co.The move comes a week after an amended federal lawsuit claimed Schroeder and a number of other current and former company executives used various accounting and operations tricks to hide the company’s declining finances from shareholders. Among the schemes was hiding excess inventory in warehouses, repackaging product past its expiration date and improperly accounting for some capital expenditures…Earlier this week, the company’s stock lost 41% of its value in a single day after an analyst downgraded the stock on worries about the lawsuit. Shares lost 8 cents to close at $3.43 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.The stock has lost 84% of its value since August, when the company disclosed that its audit committee had begun an internal investigation into the company’s accounting and that it couldn’t release third-quarter numbers. In October, it told investors not to rely on financial reports going back to 2002.

The Developmental Approach

The common approach to development evolves around the development of counter behaviours – i.e., changing the negative trait and turning it into a positive one. For example, let us say that you are a high-achiever, focused, decisive, self-starting, low-maintenance, and a hard-working individual. One that does not suffer fools gladly, and hates wasting time picking up the pieces dropped by less purposeful individuals. You are perceived as a high-power manager, but also as direct, blunt, harsh, and insensitive. People respect and fear you, but do not necessarily view you as a nice person. You reach the painful realisation that you can achieve more by getting people on your side, and decide to change peoples’ perception about you. Hence, you decide, “I need to become a far nicer person”. How would you go about it?

The ‘counter-behaviour’ approach advocates that you start engaging in a series of ‘nice-person’ type behaviours, and try to turn them into daily habits. Coaches subscribing to this approach will work with you on building habits such as:

  • Having a Monday morning meeting as the first activity of the week, where you invite all your direct reports to a 20-minute informal chat over coffee (that you prepare for all) to update them on business matters
  • Spending everyday 20 minutes ‘walking the floor’ and doing nothing in particular, beside talking to people, showing personal interest in them, and making yourself available
  • Giving three unconditional complements every day to your colleagues, from simple statement like “I like your tie”, to more business-related comments such as “I heard you gave an excellent presentation yesterday, well done”.
  • Starting every day by approaching each of your immediate colleagues with a smile, a bright “Good Morning”, and an informal, “How do you do?”

Knowing the person you are such coaches will probably ask you to keep a daily record (probably in the form of an Excel spreadsheet) of all these small behaviours, and email the spreadsheet to them every Friday, as a way of monitoring your behavioural change.

While this target-driven coaching might appear appealing from the outset, it is a daunting assignment. It requires you to master a very long list of positive actions, to enhance your self-awareness, and worst of all, to behave against your common nature. From a person who prides themselves of being focused and low-maintenance, you find yourself ‘wasting’ your valuable working hours on niceties that cause your workload to build up. In a sense, when adopting the ‘counter-behaviour’ approach, you are asked to engage in a ‘personality transplant’ – converting all the negative things you do at work into positive actions. This is asking a lot from most people. It is hard enough to try and change a single habit, let alone a whole raft of actions. Doing so means that you set yourself to failure. All it takes is a bit of pressure and stress at work, and you will drop one by one the good intentions and the ‘nice person’ behaviours, and will revert to your old self.

Fortunately, there is far more efficient and effective manner to meet the objective of becoming a ‘nicer person’. It builds on the view of weaknesses as the possession of a negative trait or characteristic that can turn into a liability. I call it ‘Damage Limitation’. With ‘Damage Limitation’, you don’t have to try becoming a nice person, all that you have to do is stop being not nice. This is not a semantic psycho-bubble. It is conceptually different. It is very different thing to STOP doing negative actions, than to start engaging in positive ones. ‘Damage Limitation’ will not turn you into ‘Mr. Nice Guy’, but it will prevent your nasty streak costing you heavily. Soon people will pigeonhole you in their mind using your strong attributes. The ‘being nice’ attributes will not feature there, neither in a positive nor in a negative way. – Thus, if in the past people would have branded you “a tough, ambitious, high-flyer, who climbs on dead bodies to reach the top”, they will now refer to you as “hard-working, focused, high-achiever – someone you can trust to deliver”.

‘Damage Limitation’ does not require much. You don’t have to constantly think of coming with new ways of being nice to people you don’t rate. You don’t have to design and keep tedious daily routines as a make-up hiding the personality imperfections you wish to cover. You don’t have to remember to say nice things, dish out phoney complements, and tell little white lies. All you have to do is … do nothing at all.

  • When someone challenges you, rather than biting their head off, arguing with them,  proving that you are cleverer than them, or being defensive, all you have to do is … nothing. Listen, consider what they have said (they might even have a point), and say … nothing.
  • When someone makes an incompetent suggestion, don’t criticise it or them, don’t pass comments on their naivety, say … nothing.
  • When someone offers a brilliant idea, do not get competitive, don’t claim that this is simply a re-hash of earlier ideas you made, don’t try to hijack their idea, don’t let everyone else know that you already knew that. Thank them, and say … nothing.

The beauty of this approach is that it is easy to apply. You simply need to know what to stop. You might feel the first couple of times that you have to ‘bite your tongue’, and may need to convince yourself that you are not losing your edge, or becoming ‘a softie’. This is not the case, you simply ‘stop behaving like a jerk’. Given the choice between starting being nice, or ceasing being a bully, the second option is far easier. The first requires a concentrated effort of adding acts; the later is nothing more than omitting acts. No need to polish your skills, perfect your mannerisms, train or practice. All that is required is the faint imagination to stop doing what you have done in the past – simply, do nothing at all.


  • Associated Press (2006). Schroeder quits American Italian Board. January, 26. http://www.boston.com/business/articles
  • Buckingham, M. & Coffman, C. (1999). First Break All The Rules. Simon & Schuster, London.
  • Buckingham, M. & Clifton, R. O. (2001). Now Discover Your Strengths. Schuster & Schuster, London.
  • Gibson, R. (1989). ‘Personal Chemistry’. Abruptly Ended Rise of Kellogg President. Wall Street Journal, November 28, A1, A8.
  • Goldsmith, M. (2007). What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There. Hyperion, New York.
  • Hogan, R. (2007). Personality and the Fate of Organizations. LEA, Mahwah, New Jersey.
  • McHall, W. M. Jr. (1998). High Flyers: Developing the Next Generation of Leaders. Harvard Business School Press, Boston MA

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