Executive Personalities and Corporate Dysfunction

A reader sent me this link, to a great article on personality tests and executives.

Just how nutty are bosses? Psychologist Robert Hogan has administered personality tests to well over a million people in the past three decades and claims that at least 55 percent of managers in American corporations are unfit for their jobs. That may explain why his company, Hogan Assessment Systems, based in Tulsa, Okla., and many major test vendors are reporting double-digit growth this year over last. Business is booming for the headshrinkers.

I can believe it. I've said many times on this site that the wrong people too often get promoted up the management chain. Much of the time you get the people who want to be CEO, not the people who would be best at it. Here is more from the article:

A typical scene occurred last year at a West Coast manufacturer. The company's financials were fine, but the directors worried that the CEO was trying to cover up a host of problems. So they called in a team of behavioral scientists led by Richard Hagberg to do a psychological profile of both the company's culture and its CEO. A big name in the psych consulting business, Hagberg's Foster City, Calif., firm famously administered the personality test that helped Carly Fiorina win the top job at Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).

What was going on at this company, however, was no success story. (Citing confidentiality, Hagberg asked that the firm not be identified by name.) The company's scores were so low that they shocked even Hagberg's seasoned shrinks. Morale had collapsed in the firm's workforce, which was dominated by an old boys' network that avoided risk, failed to foster teamwork, and bred political infighting. When Hagberg presented the results to the board, the directors asked the CEO to leave the room. "Two members spoke up and said, 'I think this makes it very, very clear what we have to do,'" Hagberg recalls. Within minutes, the CEO was out of a job, he says.

Those of you who missed this post, note that Michael Dell had this done, and actually did something about the results. I think that is a mark of a good leader. Some CEOs simply fire these types of consultants when they receive news they don't want to hear (like that they are unfit for their jobs).

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