October 26, 2009

When a Strength is no longer a Strength....

I am currently reading the book The Perils of Accentuating the Positive, edited by Robert Kaiser. Now, talking about being "too positive" is not particularly endearing. How does one argue for negativity? And it is clear that Positive Psychology and the Strengths-based Movement have made significant contributions to the management field, especially in clarifying the need to help successful leaders become even more effective through coaching and development programs. But this book puts forth a compelling, research-based argument that too much emphasis on strengths can be a problem and there is a need for greater balance.

Some of the issues they raise--
  • Not all strengths are created equally--some matter more than others to the success of individuals and companies;
  • Strengths overused become weaknesses;
  • Weaknesses really do matter--how many people fail or derail because of their strengths?
  • Sometimes your personal strengths are not what is needed to get the job done--For example, strengths in one context may be weaknesses in another;
  • We are in danger of developing Lopsided Leadership. As the saying goes "If you are a hammer everything looks like a nail".

Today we need well-rounded leaders who are versatile, adaptable and agile. Yes, understanding and fully developing one's strengths is important. But addressing weaknesses as well creates a more balanced approach to leadership and is a greater recipe for success. Positively!

October 19, 2009

Assessment Challenges Across the Globe

I just returned from the Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology (SIOP) Leading Edge Consortium which was on the topic of Global Assessment and Selection. There were many interesting issues raised and the short answer is: There is definitely more work to be done.

The biggest challenge global organizations are facing is coming up with methodologically sound assessment and selection tools and practices that are implementable across cultures. Aside from the obvious need for assessment tools in multiple languages, companies face additional problems in determining whether the translated tools are indeed valid in another language and culture. Other issues include: cultural acceptance of selection and assessment practices, data privacy concerns, legal variability and risks across nations and cultural competency of assessors.

The consortium is SIOP's "practice"oriented conference which provides an interesting mix of professionals from academia, research, HR and consulting practices. One key note speaker, Kristie Wright of Cisco Systems captured the attention of many with the approach that integrates Industrial/Organizational and Clinical Psychology practices, which to some in the audience must have seemed blasphemous given the frequency with which she apologized to her I/O colleagues. However, like many Consulting Psychologists, I found this presentation refreshing and the approach sound. According to Dr. Wright it primarily involves extending their Interviewing Methodology to integrate the I/O Methods of: standardization, volume, norming, and focusing on the "what" with Clinical Methods which emphasize: uniqueness, depth vs. volume, being individually driven and a focus on the "why".

Its nice when two branches of psychology can talk to each other. Maybe more cross-disciplinary collaboration will lead us closer to solving the global assessment and selection issues. As we say in psychology, "Hope springs eternal"!