1. Study examines link between job stress, junk food and sleep

    July 10, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Michigan State University press release:

    Stress during the workday can lead to overeating and unhealthy food choices at dinnertime, but there could be a buffer to this harmful pattern.

    A good night’s sleep can serve as a protecting factor between job stress and unhealthy eating in the evening, indicates a new study co-authored by a Michigan State University scholar.

    The study, published online in the Journal of Applied Psychology, is one of the first to investigate how psychological experiences at work shape eating behaviors.

    “We found that employees who have a stressful workday tend to bring their negative feelings from the workplace to the dinner table, as manifested in eating more than usual and opting for more junk food instead of healthy food,” said Chu-Hsiang “Daisy” Chang, MSU associate professor of psychology and study co-author.

    “However, another key finding showed how sleep helped people deal with their stressful eating after work,” she added. “When workers slept better the night before, they tended to eat better when they experienced stress the next day.”

    The research involved two studies of 235 total workers in China. One study dealt with information-technology employees who regularly experienced high workload and felt there was never enough time in the workday. The second study involved call-center workers who often got stressed from having to deal with rude and demanding customers.

    In both cases, workday stress was linked to employees’ negative mood while on the job, which in turn was linked to unhealthy eating in the evening, said Yihao Liu, co-author and assistant professor at the University of Illinois.

    The study proposed two potential explanations, Liu said.

    “First, eating is sometimes used as an activity to relieve and regulate one’s negative mood, because individuals instinctually avoid aversive feelings and approach desire feelings,” he said. “Second, unhealthy eating can also be a consequence of diminished self-control. When feeling stressed out by work, individuals usually experience inadequacy in exerting effective control over their cognitions and behaviors to be aligned with personal goals and social norms.”

    Chang said the finding that sleep protects against unhealthy eating following workday stress shows how the health behaviors are related.

    “A good night’s sleep can make workers replenished and feel vigorous again, which may make them better able to deal with stress at work the next day and less vulnerable to unhealthy eating,” she said.

    To address the problem, companies should emphasize the importance of health management for their employees and consider sleep-awareness training and flexible scheduling.

    Companies should also reconsider the value of food-related job perks, which have become very common.

    “Food-related perks may only serve as temporary mood-altering remedies for stressed employees,” Chang said, “and failure to address the sources of the work stress may have potential long-term detrimental effects on employee health.”

  2. Researchers investigate the wisdom of crowds in realm of visual searches

    July 9, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of California – Santa Barbara press release:

    Your doctor is an expert with many years of experience. So when she tells you, upon reviewing all the fancy tomographic imaging you had done, that the tenderness in your breast is just some minor irritation, you want to believe her and leave it at that.

    But is she right?

    According to researchers at UC Santa Barbara a second pair of eyes studying those same images looks to be more beneficial than previously thought when searching for hard-to-find objects in a “noisy” field — especially when that searcher is under time pressure and other constraints. The scientists’ findings, detailed in the paper “The Wisdom of Crowds for Visual Search,” are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    “We show that the benefits in having more people do the task will be larger when individuals cannot exhaustively search the entire image,” said Mordechai Juni, a postdoctoral researcher in UCSB’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences and lead author of the study conducted with Professor Miguel Eckstein. In a fast-paced world with increasing amounts of visual information — closed-circuit TV, geospatial imaging and medical tomography, to name a few — tapping into the wisdom of crowds might be especially useful. Each individual is unlikely to look at all regions of all images.

    The study builds on a longstanding concept that the aggregated answers of a large group of people are usually more accurate than the response of a single expert. A classic example occurred at an English county fair in 1907, when the averaged estimates of a crowd of people vying to guess the weight of an ox came closer than those of each individual entry, including those of cattle experts.

    “It appears then, in this particular instance, that the vox populi is correct to within one per cent of the real value,” concluded Sir Francis Galton, who conducted that study.

    The benefit of the “wisdom of crowds” has been found in human judgments in the domains of estimation, detection (where the location of the target is familiar), identification and prediction. However, until now, the value of that phenomenon with regard to visual search had not been well studied.

    In this preliminary work, the researchers used an eye-tracking device to record the visual scan paths of a group of undergraduate students. They did so first with a search task (requiring a yes or no response to the presence of a hard-to-find object anywhere on a field), then a single-location task (requiring a yes or no response to the presence of a hard-to-detect object in a fixed and known position on a field). Their results demonstrated that the aggregated responses — weighted with the observers’ confidence — in the search task showed better than expected performance compared to the single-location task.

    “In the single-location task, all observers are looking at the exact location where the hard-to-detect object might be, and so they are all processing the same visual information,” said Juni. “But in the search task, observers’ scan paths take different patterns, and those who happen to gaze directly at the hard-to-find object tend to be highly confident that it is present — because the object is easy to detect when fixated — whereas those who do not gaze directly at the object tend to respond that it is absent, because the object is very difficult to detect in the visual periphery.”

    The greater benefits for the search task, Juni explained, are “dependent on tapping into the very high confidence of those in the group who happened to gaze directly at the object.”

    In this search scenario, the researchers say, the ‘wisdom of crowds’ is more nuanced than simple majority voting, which is highly effective in single-location tasks when the relevant information is present and accessible to all.

    “As long as there’s some element of individual knowledge that we could tap into, you could do really well, and maybe even close to optimal in terms of the group performance,” Juni said. He cited Condorcet’s jury theorem, which indicates that if voters are more likely than not to give correct answers individually, the chance of collectively arriving at the correct answer via majority voting increases with group size.

    But, in scenarios where individuals are more likely than not to give incorrect answers (due to, say, erroneous or lack of information), increasing group size might be detrimental for majority voting as even experts who tend to give correct answers will be swept away with the minority.

    In many real-world scenarios where visual search is employed, the tendency toward error is present, whether it’s lack of time to perform exhaustive searches, lack of resolution in the images, too large a search field or too many images to search through. Think: search-and-rescue of planes downed in the ocean, military surveillance during times of conflict, or physicians dealing with an exponential rise in the number of images per exam.

    “In those cases, majority voting would be ineffective, whereas the averaged responses of a group of observers could be very beneficial if those who happen to gaze directly at the searched-for-object express very high confidence that they found it,” Juni said.

    “The next step is to verify and see if this actually happens with the large data volumes of modern 3D medical image technology,” said Eckstein. The results might raise questions over how medical diagnoses are made in the U.S. and other countries that do not typically perform multiple independent readings to find, say, breast cancer as they do in much of Europe, Australia and New Zealand. According to the researchers, combining responses from multiple readings with technologies that generate many images per exam could result in considerable gains.

    “We think some of this work could potentially cause us to rethink how we should do it in the U.S. for newer 3D imaging technologies,” Juni said.

  3. Study suggests authenticity key to landing a new job

    July 8, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University College London press release:

    At job interviews, relax and be yourself — if you’re good, being yourself may be the best way to secure a job offer, according to a new study involving UCL researchers.

    Published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, the study by UCL, Bocconi University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and London Business School, found that high-quality candidates who strive to present themselves accurately during the interview process significantly increase the likelihood of receiving a job offer.

    “People are often encouraged to only present the best aspects of themselves at interview so they appear more attractive to employers, but what we’ve found is that high-quality candidates — the top 10% — fare much better when they present who they really are. Unfortunately, the same isn’t true for poorer quality candidates who can actually damage their chances of being offered the job by being more authentic,” explained co-author Dr SunYoung Lee (UCL School of Management).

    The research focused on the concept of ‘self-verification‘, which refers to individuals’ drive to be known and understood by others according to their firmly held beliefs and feelings about themselves.

    To date, self-verifying behaviour was known to positively influence outcomes that unfold over time, such as the process of integration in a new organization. This paper shows, for the first time, that self-verification can have important effects in short-term interpersonal interactions as well, as in the hiring process.

    Lead author, Dr Celia Moore (Bocconi University), said: “In a job interview, we often try to present ourselves as perfect. Our study proves this instinct wrong. Interviewers perceive an overly polished self-representation as inauthentic and potentially misrepresentative. But ultimately, if you are a high-quality candidate, you can be yourself on the job market. You can be honest and authentic. And if you are, you will be more likely to get a job.” The researchers conducted three studies — two field studies looking at the importance of self-verification for groups of professionals applying for different jobs and a third experimental study testing the mechanism behind the effects observed.

    In the two field studies, prior to job interviews, candidates reported their self-verification drive, and their quality was evaluated in face-to-face interviews. The results of the studies were normalised for gender, age and race.

    The first study investigated a sample of 1,240 teachers from around the globe who applied for placements in the U.S. The candidates that had been evaluated as high quality had a 51% likelihood of receiving a placement, but this increased to 73% for those who also had a strong drive to self-verify. The second study replicated this effect in a radically different sample by assessing 333 lawyers applying for positions in a branch of the U.S. military. For this group, high quality candidates increased their chances of receiving a job offer five-fold, from 3% to 17%, if they also had a strong drive to self-verify. This effect was only seen in high-quality candidates, and for those rated as low-quality, the drive to self-verify weakened their position. The third study was designed to test the mechanism behind this effect. For this, the researchers surveyed 300 people on their self-verification striving and selected those who were extremely high and extremely low in the distribution. The individuals participated in a mock job interview, which were then transcribed and submitted to text analysis.

    It revealed differences in candidates’ language use as a function of their self-verification drive. People with a strong self-verification drive communicated in a more fluid way about themselves, and were ultimately perceived as more authentic and less misrepresentative. The team say that these perceptions ultimately explain why high-self-verifying candidate can flourish on the job market.

  4. In organizations, bullying begets whining, study finds

    by Ashley

    From the Northern Illinois University press release:

    It has been said that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Now new research suggests that such a dynamic can play out in organizations, where bullying within decision-making groups appears to go hand in hand with whining.

    Northern Illinois University researchers surveyed 234 study participants, whose jobs included team decision-making, about their perceptions of the personal dynamics within groups. The researchers found a significant and positive correlation between bullying and whining.

    “There’s a tendency for bullying and whining to be used in conjunction with one another,” says researcher David Henningsen, an NIU professor of communication who studies idiosyncratic forms of persuasion within organizations. “In other words, when some people act dominant by bullying, others respond by being submissive and whining.”

    Neither bullying nor whining was perceived by the study participants as being frequently used to exert influence, but when present, the tactics appear to feed off each other.

    “The higher the perception of bullying within a group, the higher the perception of whining,” Henningsen said.

    Henningsen and his wife, NIU communication professor Mary Lynn Miller Henningsen, teamed up on the study, published recently in the International Journal of Business Communication.

    Study participants filled out online questionnaires measuring their perceptions of dynamics in decision-making groups at their jobs. On a six-point scale, they rated statements such as, “People act aggressively to try to force others to accept their position,” and “People often pout to try to get others to agree with them.”

    The researchers also found that both reported bullying and whining behaviors negatively impacted group perceptions of cohesiveness and decision-making effectiveness.

    While little research has been done on the use of whining as a social-influence tactic, the researchers say it should be considered an aggressive tactic.

    “We liken the whiners to the Eeyores of a group,” Mary Lynn Miller Henningsen said, referencing the gloomy donkey in Winnie-the-Pooh stories. “When he needs help, Eeyore likes to express his emotions to friends in a way that evokes pity and spurs them to help.

    “Likewise, whining can be used to sway members of a group,” she added. “Whiners attempt to gain influence by positioning themselves as deserving of consideration because their positions have been denied in the past. So they try to leverage weakness into pity to induce compliance. The assumption is that regardless of whether the whiners supported their positions in the past, the fact that they have a pattern of losing suggests they should be allowed to win.”

    Conversely, Lucy Van Pelt from Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip demonstrates classic bullying behavior.

    “In decision-making groups, bullying occurs when someone uses a loud, aggressive or critical tone to intimidate or coerce others,” David Henningsen said.

    The positive correlation found between bullying and whining indicates the behaviors might be inter-related through a process known as “dominance complementarity,” whereby dominant behaviors by one individual lead to corresponding submissive behaviors by another.

    “This is important research because group decision-making is by far the most common way decisions are made in organizations,” David Henningsen said. “And these types of behaviors can derail group meetings and lead to suboptimal decisions.”

    Henningsen suggests three ways to deal with or prevent bullying and whining:

    1) Focus on facts, logic and data that speak to the problem and its solution.

    2) Recognize that both bullying and whining are aggressive and non-productive behaviors. “Many people bully or whine without realizing it,” Henningsen said. “Self-recognition of a negative behavior is the first step toward correcting it.”

    3) Don’t let the behaviors spiral and escalate.

  5. Study suggests hiding true self harms career and sense of belonging

    July 5, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Exeter press release:

    Hiding your true self at work can damage your career and reduce your sense of belonging in the workplace, a new study suggests.

    University of Exeter researchers examined “stigmatised” characteristics — being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), or having a history of poverty or mental or physical illness.

    They found that concealing such characteristics from colleagues resulted in lower self-esteem, job satisfaction and commitment at work.

    “People may choose to conceal stigmatised identities because they want to be accepted, but in fact doing so reduces feelings of belonging,” said Professor Manuela Barreto of the University of Exeter.

    “When someone conceals their true identity, their social interactions suffer — and this has an impact not just on the individual but also on the organisation they work for.

    “Our findings suggest that openness about one’s identity is often beneficial for stigmatised individuals, the stigmatised group and their workplace.”

    Despite highlighting the costs of concealment, the researchers do not suggest that everyone must be open in all contexts.

    “It is clear that there are times when revealing a stigmatised identity can be very costly,” said Dr Anna Newheiser of the University at Albany, SUNY in the USA.

    “Those effects are very real and worth avoiding in certain circumstances, but it is important to realise that there is also a cost to hiding your true self.”

    The paper highlights the “hidden ramifications of prejudice,” which harm both individuals and organisations.

    “What we need are environments where people don’t need to hide — inclusive environments where people don’t have to make a choice between being liked and being authentic,” Professor Barreto added.

    Workplaces that push individuals to hide their differences do not erase difference — they simply encourage masking and concealment of diversity.

    “Given that identity concealment is by nature an invisible act, its social and organisational costs may also be difficult to detect, explain and correct.”

    The researchers report studies carried out in the Netherlands and the USA.

    In one, participants were encouraged to remember a time when they either concealed or revealed a stigmatised characteristic about themselves.

    In the other, participants were presented with fictional scenarios that either involved concealing or revealing their stigmatised identity. In both studies, participants were asked how they would feel after concealing or revealing the stigmatised characteristic.

    The paper, published in the Journal of Social Issues, is entitled: “People Like Me Don’t Belong Here: Identity Concealment Is Associated with Negative Workplace Experiences.”

  6. Study suggests fast typists more likely to emerge as virtual team leaders

    July 4, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Iowa press release:

    A new study from the University of Iowa finds that to the fast typist go the leadership spoils.

    The study suggests that the fleet-fingered are more likely to emerge as the leaders of virtual work teams that have members scattered in multiple offices.

    “Individuals who can type faster are able to more quickly communicate their thoughts and drive the direction of a team in a collaborative work setting, whereas individuals with lower abilities lag behind their counterparts,” says Greg Stewart, professor of management and organizations in the UI’s Tippie College of Business and co-author of the study.

    More and more American businesses are using virtual teams, where employees from different geographic locations use technology to work together on a project. While many dispersed work teams use video streaming or talk on the phone, much of their communication still relies on text-based tools, such as email, texting, or instant messaging services.

    Past studies have shown leaders emerge differently from virtual teams than they do when team members sit around a conference room table, so that working in a virtual conference room can play an important role in a project’s direction and final results.

    In the recent study, the research team conducted an experiment that divided 344 participants into four-member teams. Some teams separated all four members into different rooms; some had two in one room, two in another; while some had three in one room and one in another, etc. Each member then played the role of the leadership team of a Hollywood studio deciding which of several scripts to produce, based on various marketing studies they read. Unless they were in the same room together, the team members communicated only by texting with a computer.

    After the experiment, the participants completed a questionnaire, at which time they were asked to rate the leadership ability of their colleagues, among other things.

    The survey found that typing ability was positively related to leadership perceptions. Individuals who could type well — taking into account both speed and accuracy — were more likely to emerge as leaders within the experiment.

    “One explanation is that individuals who can type fast are simply able to communicate more information within a given period of time,” says Steve Charlier, who led the study as part of his doctoral thesis at the Tippie College and is now an associate professor at Georgia Southern University. “In turn, adept users of electronic communication are more likely to set strategy, drive conversations, and influence work teams as a whole.”

    The study also found that physical presence played a role in leadership scores, as team members tended to give higher scores to members who were in a room with them than members in other locations. The exception was on teams where members were fully dispersed in separate locations, in which case location had no effect on a person’s leadership score.

    Stewart says this dynamic could make it difficult for team members who are in a location by themselves to emerge as the leader of a team when other members are in the same place.

    The paper, “Emergent leadership in virtual teams: A Multilevel Investigation of individual communication and team dispersion antecedents,” was published recently in the journal Leadership Quarterly.

  7. Study suggests “purposeful leaders” improve workplace morale

    June 26, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Sussex press release:

    People are happier and more productive when their leaders show strong morals, a clear vision and commitment to stakeholders, a new study has found.

    The growing importance of what is being described as ‘purposeful leadership‘ for the modern workplace is outlined in a new report for the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

    When modern managers display ‘purposeful’ behaviours, employees are less likely to quit, more satisfied, willing to go the extra mile, better performers and less cynical, according to the researchers at the University of Sussex, the University of Greenwich, the IPA and CIPD.

    Professor Catherine Bailey at the University of Sussex said: “Our study shows that the modern workplace is as much a battle for hearts and minds as it is one of rules and duties.

    “People increasingly expect an organisational purpose that goes beyond a mere focus on the bottom line, beyond the kind of short-termist, financial imperatives that are blamed by many for causing the 2008 recession.

    “In turn, they respond to leaders who care not just about themselves but wider society, who have strong morals and ethics, and who behave with purpose.”

    Not much is known about what causes purposeful leadership or what impact it has — this new study is an attempt to fill this gap.

    Laura Harrison, Director of Strategy and Transformation at the CIPD, said: “Building on a number of studies on trust, decision making, and corporate governance, this study begins an examination of an under considered facet of leadership, purposefulness.

    “Much has been discussed about the critical nature of invoking and ‘living’ purpose in an organisation, but little around the alignment of this purpose to the internal, perhaps hidden, moral compass of an organisation’s leaders.

    “The challenge now is how we enable and support the development of leaders that people actually want to follow.”

    The research found that just one in five UK bosses describes themselves as a ‘purposeful leader’, highlighting a largely untapped opportunity for modern organisations to improve performance by reshaping the role of managers.

    The researchers suggest that there is much that organisations can do to foster purposeful and ethical leadership, including the adoption of relevant policies, leader role-modelling, alignment around a core vision, training and development, and organisational culture.

    Dr Amanda Shantz at the University of Greenwich says: “If organisations are serious about acting on the rhetoric of business purpose, and are to invest in achievement of their purpose, they have to reconsider the ways they select, develop and assess leaders.

    “The traditional focus on leader behaviours only goes so far as to develop their ability to perform in a role. Instead, what is required is a development of the whole person, while accepting that it is impossible to mould all individuals into a uniform model of morals and ethics.

    “The real challenge is not in trying to achieve perfect match between leaders’ and organisational values, but in ensuring that they complement each other in ways that best suit organisational circumstances at a given time.

    “This includes supporting leaders to successfully recognise and negotiate the differences between what they stand for and what the business intends to achieve, without detriment to the individual leader or the company’s operations.”

    Find more information at: https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/strategy/leadership/purposeful-leadership-report

  8. Setting stretch goals can undermine organizational performance

    June 20, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences press release:

    While the general consensus regarding stretch goals is that they boost drive, innovation, and improve organizational performance, new research in the INFORMS journal Organization Science shows that this is the exception, and not the rule. For many organizations, stretch goals can serve to undermine performance.

    The study, “Stretch Goals and the Distribution of Organizational Performance,” was conducted by Michael Shayne Gary of UNSW Business School in Sydney, Miles Yang of Curtin University, Philip Yetton of Deakin University, and John Sterman of the Sloan School of Management at MIT. They examined the impact of assigning stretch or moderate goals to managers. Study participants were assigned moderate or stretch goals to manage the widely used interactive, computer-based People Express business simulation.

    The researchers found that about 80 percent of participants failed to reach the assigned stretch goals. Compared with moderate goals, stretch goals improved performance for a few, but many abandoned the stretch goals in favor of lower self-set goals or adopted a survival goal when faced with the threat of bankruptcy. Consequently, stretch goals generated higher variation in performance across organizations, created large performance shortfalls that increased risk taking, undermined goal commitment, and generated lower risk-adjusted performance.

    “We find that stretch goals are not a rule for riches for all organizations. Instead, they lead to riches for a few organizations,” said Gary. “Instead of being evidence that organizations should adopt stretch goals, the small number of successful cases is evidence that stretch goals do not benefit most organizations. Many organizations do not benefit and may even suffer from adopting stretch goals.”

    The authors suggest that whether boards or top management should adopt stretch goals in their organization depends on their attitudes toward risk. Those with large appetites for risk may still prefer stretch goals. In venture capital or private equity, the value created by “big winners” can more than offset the poor returns or losses on the majority of organizations in the portfolio. These organizations may also be more able to absorb the poor returns or losses created by aggressive goals. However, for those who are risk neutral or risk averse, stretch goals may not be desirable because of the lower expected risk-adjusted returns. For example, stretch goals may not be appropriate for medium-sized or family-owned businesses that may not be positioned to recover from potential losses.

  9. Study suggests diverse populations make rational collective decisions

    June 14, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Hokkaido University press release:

    Understanding how ant colonies make collective decisions could provide insight into the functioning of the human brain.

    Yes/no binary decisions by individual ants can lead to a rational decision as a collective when the individuals have differing preferences to the subject, according to research recently published in the journal Royal Society Open Science. This binary mechanism of decision-making could provide a basis for understanding how neurons in the human brain, which also make binary choices, work together.

    Honey bees are known to “dance” with varying levels of enthusiasm depending on the quality of nectar they find. The more attractive the nectar is, the stronger they dance, appealing to other members. As a result, the majority of the members, and later the entire colony, gather to the better option. However, this mechanism doesn’t explain how a collective rationality within the brain is made because neurons can only make binary decisions.

    Tatsuhiro Yamamoto and Eisuke Hasegawa of Hokkaido University’s Laboratory of Animal Ecology set up six experimental colonies of 56 Myrmica kotokui ants. Each individual ant was marked to distinguish them from one another.

    They starved the ants for three days, then fed them sucrose solution with two different concentrations: 3.5% or 4.0%, and observed their behaviour. This process was repeated three times with an interval of three days between them.

    The team found that individual ants had different yet consistent preferences. Some of the ants were happy to feed on either of the two solutions. Picky ants refused to feed from either. A third “middle” group consistently chose the solution with a higher concentration. These varied choices demonstrated that individual ants had individual thresholds to the sucrose concentration and made yes/no binary decisions accordingly.

    The researchers then fed each colony again with the differing sucrose solutions and found that the majority of the ants in all six experimental colonies chose the 4.0% sucrose solution, without being influenced by other ants in the colony. The “collective” decision of the colony was thus for the more nourishing solution.

    “Importantly, neither ants with a low threshold and high threshold contributed to the collective decision making, since the former didn’t care about the concentration and the latter refused both concentrations. Thus, the decision maker was the middle group which preferred the higher concentration,” says Hasegawa.

    “The study demonstrates simple yes/no judgements by individuals can lead to a collective rational decision, without using quality-graded responses, when they have diverse thresholds in the population,” he continued. This mechanism can be applied to various fields including brain science, behavioural science, swarm robotics and consensus decision-making in human societies, conclude the researchers.

  10. Leaders with moderate amounts of charisma seen as more effective than those with high or low levels

    June 8, 2017 by Ashley

    From the American Psychological Association press release:

    How important is charisma in a leader? While at least a moderate level is important, too much may hinder a leader’s effectiveness, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

    “Our findings suggest that organizations may want to consider selecting applicants with mid-range levels of charisma into leadership roles, instead of extremely charismatic leaders,” said Jasmine Vergauwe, a doctoral student at Ghent University and lead author of the study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

    Vergauwe and her colleagues took a trait perspective on charisma by measuring charismatic personality using 56 questions, known as the charismatic cluster, from the Hogan Development Survey, an instrument used to assess the personality of leaders. The charismatic cluster focuses on four personality tendencies: Bold, mischievous, colorful and imaginative. To confirm the cluster as a valid measurement, the researchers compared the scores from 204 leaders who took the personality test with subordinates’ ratings of their charismatic leadership and found a significant correlation. In a second sample, they also found an association between the charismatic cluster and self- and observer-rated charisma-related personality tendencies described in the literature.

    In two other studies, the researchers compared the charisma scores of nearly 600 business leaders with their effectiveness as reported by peers, subordinates and superiors. In both studies, they found that as charisma increased, so did perceived effectiveness, but only up to a point. At a certain level, as charisma scores continued to increase, perceived effectiveness started to decline.

    “Leaders with both low and high charismatic personalities were perceived as being less effective than leaders with moderate levels of charisma, and this was true according to all three rater groups,” said co-author Filip De Fruyt, PhD, also of Ghent University.

    Further analysis of the data suggests that the point at which the relationship between charisma and effectiveness turns negative can be moderated by an individual’s level of adjustment, or ability to cope with stressful events. The researchers also discovered that low-charisma leaders were seen as less effective because they were not sufficiently strategic, while high-charisma leaders were seen as less effective because they were weak on operational behavior.

    An operational leader is someone who guides the team to get things done in the near term by managing the tactical details of execution, focusing resources, and managing with process discipline. Strategic leadership, on the other hand, involves effectively communicating a vision for an organization and persuading others to share that vision. Because they appeared to exhibit both of these behaviors in adequate amounts, moderately charismatic leaders were rated most effective, Vergauwe theorized.

    The findings were partially surprising, said Vergauwe, because the researchers had expected that interpersonal characteristics associated with charisma might also play a role, but they found no such association.

    “While conventional wisdom suggests that highly charismatic leaders might fail for interpersonal reasons like arrogance and self-centeredness, our findings suggest that business-related behaviors, more than interpersonal behavior, drive leader effectiveness ratings,” she said.

    This research may have important practical implications for the selection, training and development of future leaders, according to Vergauwe. For one thing, organizations may want to consider selecting applicants with mid-range levels of charisma for leadership roles, instead of extremely charismatic ones.

    Current and potential leaders could also receive more specialized training based on their level of charisma. “Highly charismatic leaders would probably gain the most from a coaching program focused on addressing operational demands such as attending to day-to-day operations and managing an orderly workflow,” De Fruyt said. “Low-charisma leaders, on the other hand, would benefit from training in more strategic behavior such as spending more time and energy on long-term planning, taking a broader perspective on the business as a whole, questioning the status quo and creating a safe environment for trying new things.”