A really nice summary of Prof. Adrian Furnham‘s keynote at DOP 2013 over at the Occupational Digest. I had great intentions of writing up Adrian’s presentation as soon as I got back from the conference last month, but various other commitments got in the way.
(We’ll discuss the implications of procrastination in another post!)
One of many highlights of this years DOP conference, Furnham entertained the packed hall with his take on the “dark side” of personality at work and a summary of his recent research on leader derailment. Considering the seriousness of the topic at hand, he got more than his fair share of laughs!
Prof. Furnham also reiterated an important distinction among “failed” leaders – those who are rated as incompetent, due to the absence of a key characteristic (e.g. intelligence, conscientiousness) and those who derailed due to having too much of a characteristic (e.g. over-confidence, inappropriate or unmanageable creativity).
The practical implications of all this? Furnham advocates the expert use of “dark side” psychometric measures to select out candidates in the running for a role. Rather than highlighting these aspects of personality as areas for development in successful candidates, he suggests that they serve as a filter for getting the role in the first place.
Because he believes we frequently fail to see the down side of “bright side” traits (e.g. creativity) or conversely, the advantages associated with “dark side” traits (e.g. Machiavellianism) on the path to success. Essentially, strengths can become weaknesses in a given context.
After outlining the dark side of various personality characteristics, Furnham also highlighted the contextual factors that can facilitate derailment – namely other people and the organisational environment – which when combined with personality can form a “toxic triangle”.
Thus, derailment doesn’t occur in a vacuum – it is facilitated by both other people and the working environment. If negative interpersonal behaviour (e.g. bullying and aggression) is ignored because the bully in question is achieving great sales figures, then this failure to address the situation in the short term is simply setting up problems for the longer term.
Occupational Digest links to a (free!) great paper by Tim Judge and colleagues on the dark side of leader personality traits, which is well worth a read.
Thanks again to Adrian Furnham for a great keynote.