Test reveals dark side of charming bosses

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The Independent Online
PSYCHOLOGISTS HAVE developed a test that can expose the hidden "dark side" of the personalities of senior managers.

While recruitment tests in the past have only measured "benign characteristics" such as sociability, the new procedure will attempt to uncover how a manager's greatest strengths can eventually lead to his or her downfall.

Based on research into managers who had "gone off the rails" the Hogan Development Survey aims to identify managers whose flawed social skills may have a disastrous impact on staff morale and ultimately company performance.

It teases out the information by asking potential recruits about their attributes, according to Geoff Trickey of the Psychological Consultancy.

"If you want to find out potential problem areas, you look at people's strengths," he told the annual occupational psychology conference of the British Psychological Society.

Senior managers who are sceptical could develop cynicism, those who are careful might become over-cautious and those who are imaginative may slip into eccentricity.

The inventor of the test, the American psychologist Bob Hogan, cited President Bill Clinton as someone whose strength had become his weakness. Mr Clinton was a vivacious man who always sought to talk to everyone in a room if that was possible. The weakness was that he was unable to concentrate on one issue for any length of time.

Professor Hogan also gave the spy Kim Philby as an example. He was a very charming man who used that talent to betray his country.

Mr Trickey conceded that many successful people had "extreme characteristics" and it was not the intention to ensure that only the bland were recruited. "The test allows a strength and therefore a potential weakness to be identified and training given todevelop self-awareness."