Category Archives: Personnel selection

What type of leader are you?

What type of leader are you?

 Have you ever wondered what type of leader you are? Years of leadership research tells us that not all leaders use the same strategies to influence their followers. Your personality helps to shape your preferred approach to leadership.  For example some leaders are more comfortable with building relationships with their subordinates while others are task driven.  Training and experience can also influence your leadership style. However, when we are under stress or when it isn’t clear how we should lead our subordinates we tend to gravitate to our natural style based on our personality.  Below we describe five major approaches to leadership.  Which one fits you best?

Transactional Leadership

Transactional leaders are those who rely primarily on rewards and punishments to influence their subordinates. They tend to be task oriented and focus on goal achievement. For example, a transactional leader is likely to identify goals for followers to achieve and then reward or punish them depending on whether they met the goal. Transactional leaders can be very effective in some work environments but are often viewed as less effective than Transformational leaders who rely more on galvanizing followers to a powerful vision of the organization.

An example of a famous transactional leader is Apple’s Steve Jobs, who is well known for his reward/punishment style and task focused leadership.

 Passive Leadership

Passive Leadership style is associated with leaders who tend to allow events to unfold with minimum guidance or input until something goes wrong. Then they tend to become more involved in identifying who created the problem and correcting them. This style of leadership is considered to be the least effective and most likely to generate negative feelings in subordinates.

 Charismatic Leadership

The most difficult leadership style to predict is Charismatic Leadership. Charismatic people are individuals who have a tendency to draw others to them. People want to be associated with them and will follow them just to be associated with them. Whether in the entertainment field (e.g. Oprah Winfrey, Johnny Depp), politics (e.g., Winston Churchill, Barack Obama) or business, charismatic people are considered to be ‘natural’ leaders. Charismatic leadership potential measures the aptitude of an individual for succeeding in a charismatic leadership role. Research shows there are some personality variables that can help predict who is likely to be seen as charismatic. Of all the leadership styles, however, this is the hardest to predict.

Famous Charismatic leaders include: Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Records, and Lee Iaccoca of Chrysler, and Jack Welch of GE.

 Leader Consideration

Leader Consideration reflects the extent to which the leader is likely to engage in building relationships with subordinates as an integral part of their approach to management. Leaders scoring high in this measure are likely to spend time to get to know their employees well and place a high emphasis on keeping employees happy through positive relationships. Low scorers on Leader Consideration tend to avoid building close bonds with their subordinates and prefer to maintain a professional distance.

 Initiating Structure

Initiating Structure is the tendency of a leader to focus on tasks and goals. Leaders high on initiating structure tend to provide a lot of input on task completion for their subordinates. They tend to prefer to set goals for their subordinates and follow up on those goals consistently.

Our system assesses your natural leadership style based on your personality. For more information contact us at

Six Reasons Why HR Social Media Strategies Fail

By Derek Chapman, Ph.D

 Remember that photo of you passed out after a night of debauchery back in college- kindly tagged by your friend on his Facebook page?  Probably not, but your prospective new employer may be looking at it right now.  Sounds creepy?  Perhaps, but the latest trend sweeping HR is employers using your social network information- tweets, forum postings, texts, messages, YouTube rants, anything that might reveal secrets about you.

“Have we crossed the line between uncovering the truth about applicants and being respectful of their privacy?”

What is driving this trend?  Employers are frustrated when they find out the candidate they just hired turns out to be a dud or worse, a public embarrassment.  Interviews and resumes do not typically shed light on whether Johnny has addiction problems, is a member of potentially embarrassing groups, posts shirtless photos of themselves on love forums or has a tendency to overshare on twitter. Research shows that applicants can and do manage their impressions in interviews and on their resumes.  But many prospective employees have voluntarily put a mountain of data about themselves for all to see on social media.  We forget that the internet never forgets.  We forget that our online friends have friends. We forget that last year we shared all of our information and our information from our friends to marketers in exchange for a free game to play.  It is our gullibility that no one will ever assemble all of these things to find out about us that drives its usefulness.  And if you think deleting something makes it go away you should learn about caching.  Yes, I know. That sinking feeling in your stomach right now is justified.

Also driving this trend is HR’s new need to be trendy.  HR people and the people they report to want to be seen to be keeping current on what is happening now.  How do we get to the Millenials? How do we leverage our new social media strategy to help with recruiting and selection?  We are recruiting with social media, what else can we do? Look at me boss, I’m thinking outside the box!  These types of questions drive the curious into the marketing arms of a host of new companies seeking to capitalize on the lucrative and fast-changing market of HR information from the internet.

The science backing these approaches is new and evolving but early work is promising. Our unguarded information on the internet can be a better predictor of future behavior than the information we share voluntarily with employers. For example, in a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, researchers obtained personality data from employees and also got permission to look at their Facebook pages.  Trained coders looked at the Facebook pages for evidence of extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and other personality information that can be inferred from the postings, photos etc.  They also got performance data from the participant’s bosses.  The results showed that the prediction power of self-reported personality (on personality questionnaires) predicted performance but that the additional information from Facebook pages added a significant amount to the prediction of performance.  Cool stuff.

Some employers come right out and ask you for things like to friend you on Facebook or your twitter password and username.  You don’t have to give it to them but if you want the job… you get the picture (and they get all of yours).  Other employers believe they can gather this information anonymously using algorithms and technologies readily available without you ever knowing that you had been ‘creeped’ by them.  Sort of like hiring a private investigator to root through your trash to find compromising receipts, love letters or beer bottles.  After all, you left the trash sitting there, all we did was look through it.

So what can go wrong?   There is a long scientific history studying applicant reactions to selection procedures. This literature talks about what candidates feel is fair or unfair and how they react. We know that applicants like unstructured interviews, work simulations, and assessment centers but hate drug testing and graphology. We also know that applicants routinely drop out of the applicant pool, say bad things about your company to others, and are also are less likely to buy your products and services in the future when they have negative reactions to the selection process. If you thought they hated graphology, wait to you hear what they think of you dredging up their drunken pleas to their girlfriend on twitter four years ago.

Here are six reasons why this idea, despite its predictive potential is likely to fail:

1)      Know that if potential job applicants find out you are creeping them online they will react very negatively.  Worse, they will tell everyone they know about how you violated them. Not the kind of PR you want. Not sure about that? Ask anyone what their reaction would be to these procedures. Let me know what they say. Feel free to comment below.

 2)       Just like the secrets you are finding out about your applicants, your online activities will likely become known eventually.  Whose head will roll if this embarrassment gets out?

 3)      What are the legal ramifications?  This is a massive can of legal worms waiting to make your life hell.  Online information can reveal gender, race, disabilities, age, and any other protected ground you can imagine.  Good luck sitting in court telling the judge that you ignored that information and focused only on the job relevant stuff.

 4)      Identity error.  There are often thousands of people with similar names.  If you get the wrong information about the applicant you are going to be relying on irrelevant data potentially screening out employees based on tweets some other person made (see point 3 again).

 5)      It won’t last.  The main reason this approach works is that people aren’t that guarded about the information they share because they believe it is limited or private. As soon as word gets out that companies do this you will see people sharing less or worse, the industry for fake Facebook personas, instant job friendly tweet packs for sale etc. will take off. At least the next crop of potential employees will see it coming and be forewarned.

 6)      Government legislation.  Once this gets big you can imagine the backlash. And there is nothing more enticing to a government than introducing new privacy legislation to protect the people. 

 Derek Chapman is a professor, entrepreneur, advisor, award winning researcher, consultant and creative thinker who helps organizations improve their recruiting and selection systems.  He holds a doctorate in Industrial & Organizational Psychology, is an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary and is president and founder of CounterpartMatch the leading company providing online matching of applicant values with organizational culture.