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Troubles at the Top or Leadership Derailers - Are Romanian Leadership Derailers Different from Others’?

13 Mar 2013

In 2012, HART Consulting, a business psychology firm, specialized in leadership assessment and development, authorized distributor for Hogan Assessments in Romania and Republic of Moldova, conducted a survey on +350 people, working adults, from various industries and various levels in organizational hierarchy which aimed to discover what make a bad boss. The survey was also deployed in other countries within Hogan network (from US, Western Europe and Asia). Researchers within HART Consulting used closed questions to investigate this issue and discovered several interesting aspects: first, Romanian leadership flaws are quite similar with what was discovered in other countries. Second, there are some common personal characteristics that predict toxic leadership and in the same time are the very catalysts for ascending the corporate ladder. 

Those personality factors are seen in a certain degree as part of the individual charisma, but “are in the same time the core for self-deception, self-absorption and hallow core syndrome”, as prof. dr. R. Hogan points out.

In Romania, toxic leaders or bad bosses are seen as self-confident to the point of arrogance (“I know it better, nobody is like me, if not me then who”), charming, impulsive, daring, challenging rules to the point of manipulation, independent to the point of passive-aggressiveskeptical and argumentative to the point of excessive mistrust. 

Charisma, according to Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, VP of research and innovation at Hogan, can rely on: force, reason, or charm. Force and reason are rational, while charm is based on emotional manipulation.

Self-absorption, another characteristic of bad bosses, is ruthless drive for self-advancement “to the extent that other people lose their value as humans and become objects to be manipulated” (Hogan). 

Self-Deception, the third characteristic that symbolizes a bad boss, is when people are prone to deceive themselves about the reasons for their actions. “Self-deception – lying to oneself – often carries with it the tendency to lie to others”.
Hollow Core Syndrome, the final characteristic of bad leaders, refers to people who are overtly self- confident, who present themselves very well in front of a public, who are charming and socially poised, and who expect others to like them, but who are privately self-doubting, tensed, unsatisfied and unhappy. 

Researchers at Hogan show that “the charm, confidence, and talent for ingratiation provides betrayers the tools they need to find employment at and quickly ascend the ranks of large, hierarchical organizations, while the private self-doubt associated with the hollow core fuels their pursuit of the money, power, and prestige offered by senior management positions”.

Hunting Out Toxicity at the Top

There are some important actions companies can take to avoid the devastating effect bad leadership can have on employee engagement and productivity. 

1. Understand what leadership is. The most practical and correct definition of leadership is in terms of a person’s ability to build and maintain a high-performing team. 
“Performance appraisals reflect how much supervisors like their subordinates”, said Dr. R. Hogan. “Consequently, the managers designated high performers are often more skilled at office politics than actual leadership. If organizations want a true assessment of a leader’s abilities, they should ask that person’s subordinates, and they should look at the performance of his or her team. Employees who have been betrayed or abused tend to fight back in the form of disengagement and lowered productivity.” 

2. Select leaders using valid assessment tools, instead of relying on intuition. Bad leaders “tend to be confident and charming, which means they will perform well in interviews”, said Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic. Paying attention to the ‘’dark side” personality characteristic is very important to prevent bad leadership and its impact on the bottom line.

“Psychometric assessments of reputation can identify character flaws and predict a candidate’s likelihood of derailing. And, unlike humans, assessments are immune to charm”, adds Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic.

Hogan Assessments measures reputation from two perspectives: 

  • Bright-side personality characteristics, which reflect people’s strengths and weaknesses when they are on their best, such as during a job interview, or when interacting with their superiors or clients. 
  • Dark-side personality characteristics which refer to people’s behavior when they are less concerned about how they are perceived, like when they are dealing with subordinates. 

3. Provide leaders training and development to mitigate their risk factors. For most people, there is a gap between who they think they are (identity) and how others perceive them (reputation). As a result, they often seem to say one thing and do another. This gap corrodes relationships, and inhibits leaders’ ability to inspire followers.

If an organization wants to promote efficient leaders and produce consistent, superior results over time, should understand that using personality assessment for selection and development is essential. Providing feedback and targeted coaching will help leaders gain strategic self-awareness about their strengths and opportunities of development from reputational point of view and facilitate their understanding about how personal factors affect their performance.

For more information about how an organization can identify bad leadership, and use valid psychometric tools for leadership selection and development, contact us at: consulting@hart.ro. 

More about Romanian leadership styles and values you can learn during the HART Consulting conference on the 22nd of May.

Madalina Balan, Managing Partner 
HART Consulting

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  • Troubles at the Top or Leadership Derailers - Are Romanian Leadership Derailers Different from Others’? - HART Consulting
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