I had to think twice before writing this blog post. I did not want to create any debate about the topics I am covering today because there are already plenty of places for discussions. Nowadays, we consider diversity in companies as a very important and urgent topic to be dealt with. We also forget that Rome was not built in one day. Things need to change before people from the diversity groups have equal chances to become part of the top-management. Most of the time mindsets have to be changed.

If we go back in history and have a look at the first companies in the industrial age. Those that we call diversity (any person who is not a white man in good health) did not have a voice or were not expected to use theirs. Basically, the European and American corporations were built by men for men. Slowly for many reasons those in the diversity groups gained power over their own fate. They acquired, for example, the right to vote, to get married to whom ever they wanted (still in process in some countries) and also the right to work. They slowly accessed to the corporate world.

The thing is, when you stay among people who look like you, speak like you and think like you, you end up developing group behavior and rules. Those preferred behavior are visible in communication , leadership and even strategic management.  The people outside the group cannot really fit in even if some efforts are made because they do not have the "cultural background" to evolve or they are simply let apart by the main stream group. When diversity groups are included in men made companies they bring other perspectives and ideas that make the team and company more productive and effective. You cannot exclude more than half of the population for too long.

A study made in 2014 by Mckinsey showed that men did not recognize the hardship women have to face when trying to access top-level positions. It is probably true for other diversity groups. I guess it caused by the fact that men do not realize that the system they work in is dominated by masculine rules. A woman having a child will have less chances to get a promotion because companies were not built considering this situation. I do believe that we can work together to create more diversified organizations which answer demands from a much wider customer base.

We know that gender, skin color, sexual orientation and belief do not influence our capacity to succeed and contribute to the betterment of the world. On the opposite being so different from one another gives us a chance to better understand what is going on.  Like every change "diversity" will take some time to get integrated in the corporate world but we are on the right track.

In order to go further we should as suggested by the McKinsey survey:
  • Encourage and increase sponsorship
  • Diversify performance models
I would also add that all men in organization have friends and relatives who belong to the so called diversity groups. We have to work all together to empower each other and share our knowledge and competences to thrive together in our organizations. In the coming years, we should encourage collaborations. We all have many things to learn from each other and diversity management is one way to achieve it.

Source: Moving mind-sets on gender diversity, McKinsey Global Survey Results
I had the pleasure to read the book from Carol S. Dweck "Mindset - the new Psychology of success" in which she explains that people belief about their capacity to learn has huge impact on the way they deal with challenges. We either believe that our skills can be developed or that they are fixed like talent and cannot be improved. Our belief system varies depending on the area we deal with. Some people may believe that they can learn to play soccer while learning a new language is out of their reach.

Nowadays, people have a tendency to believe that they can improve their physical appearance through sport, diet, fashion... while being restricted by their mental abilities. You are either good at math or not. You can recognize a good wine or not. You can [ability of your choice] or not.

The consequences of such a limiting belief lead us to "avoid effort by not getting involved". Why would we dare spend our free time on learning Spanish? You will definitely "give up easily" on learning Spanish [or anything else] if you believe that you do not have the "talent" for it. Furthermore, you will not see effort as necessary to achieve your goal but as a "useless pain". The criticism that you will receive will be seen as a degradation of  your person an then "ignored" to protect your ego. You will "feel threatened by the success of others"and when your colleague will be  say few words more in Spanish than you, your relationship with him may get worth.

On the other hand, when you believe that a skill can be developed you will have a "desire to learn" which will make you "embrace challenges" as they are opportunities to learn and grow. You will "persist"in your effort to learn as obstacles are indicators of what should be worked on. All your efforts and criticism you receive lead you to foster your learning. The success of others gives you "inspiration" to go further and develop better learning strategies.

The Diagram by Nigel Holmes bellow resumes the two tendencies very well. I would like to add that we can believe in our ability to learn a new skill but face periods in which our fixed mindset come to say hello and stop us from learning. It is then important to be aware of those apparitions and consciously decide to come back to the growth Mindset. Sentences like "here you come again Fixed Mindset" can help you distance yourself from what is happening in order to take correcting actions.

The most amazing point about Carol S. Dweck book could be summarized in one sentence: "Your ability to learn depends on your learning belief".

There are for sure predisposition that facilitate your capacity to master a skill. Someone who can analyse situations will be better off when evaluating risks than someone who did not develop this skill. The main idea is that you can always improve your skills even a bit which can give you the keys to a new position in your organization.

It is nice to know that you can improve your language, math or analytically skills but can we improve our leadership? There are different schools of thoughts that defend both this thesis and antithesis. In my opinion, we can learn new behavior to become better leaders. The question lays on the durability of such a change. Habits become then an interesting topic. Can we develop new durable behavioral habits?

I guess that we can, looking at all people quitting drugs and alcohol or people learning from their eating disorders. There is a need of awareness, desire to change and support by the company and relatives. You can learn and that's the most important thing to remember!


Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck
As researchers and some of us noticed the best predictor of success are our past behavior which can be in some instance measured by employees' reputation. This is one of the reason why 360 Degree feedback are so loved by consulting firms and their clients. Those evaluations are based on the perceptions of other about one's behavior at work. What about employee personality and more precisely the one who are suppose to lead teams - the managers?

In the research field, big debates and research are led in order to shed a light on the importance of Personality on one's success and its repercussion on the organization success or failure. One very important framework to study personality is the Five-Factor Model developed by Wiggins. As Robert Hogan and Timothy Judge explained it in Personality and Leadership "We use reputation to predict what people will do; we use identity to explain why they do it". Understanding the reason why someone will do "what" he does helps build  a coaching practices as well as develop empirical research.

People personality can be explained as the tendency to express our bright or dark side. Our bright side manifest itself when we are handling ourselves well whereas our dark side shows its face when we stop "monitoring"ourselves. Every individual expresses a mix of bright and dark side which can then be identified as specific behaviors by external actors. This framework should be seen as a continuum more as a didactic explanation of personality.

We evolve between our dark and bright side as on a continuum. Those tendencies express themselves at different times and in different situations. It seems important to add that an excess of a bright side may become a dark side and a dark side can also become a bright side.

Our bright side (based on Robert Hogan and Timothy Judge, Personality and Leadership):

  1. Adjustment/Emotional Stability: Self-confidence, self-esteem, stable moods  
  2. Sociability/ Social Ascendance: Extraversion, energy, status seeking
  3. Agreeableness/Interpersonal Sensitivity: Charm, tact, warmth, diplomacy
  4. Prudence/Consciousness: rule following and compliant
  5. Inquisitiveness/Openness: imagination, curiosity, tolerance
Our dark side (based on Horney's (1950) orientation definition):
  • Moving away: Trying to succeed by intimidation and avoiding others: Excitable, Skeptical, cautious, reserved and leisurely. Hogan & Hogan 2001)
  • Moving against: Trying to succeed by charm and manipulation: Arrogant, Mischievous, colorful and imaginative. Hogan & Hogan (2001)
  • Moving toward: Trying to succeed by ingratiating others and building alliances: Diligent and Dutiful. Hogan & Hogan (2001)
Our aim as managers or as consultants is to better understand how those different sides influence our behavior and how we can benefit from them. It is also useful to use this knowledge when trying to improve our managing practices. 

Robert Hogan and Timothy Judge defines good leadership as the capacity to "create and maintain a team, group or organization". The personality of a leader and his actions impact his relationship with the people he works directly with. It is then important to identify success factors in leadership which can be linked to bright and dark side personality. Research shows that Managers are successful leaders when they can adjust and are emotionally stable. On the other side, sensitivity has a negative effect on leadership success. 

McCall  and  Lombardo  (1983) studied derailed management and found ten reasons for their failure:" (a) specific business problems; (b) insensitivity; (c) arrogance; (d) betrayal of trust; (e) inability to delegate; (f) too ambitious; (g) inability to build a team; (h); inability to think strategically; (i) inability to adapt to a new boss; and (j) too dependent  on  a  mentor." some features are directly linked to dark side personality. A research by Kaplan, Klebanov, and Sorenson (2008) found out that the most important factors in leadership effectiveness are : integrity, decisiveness, competence and vision.  

The way employees view their superior influence the way they work. Employees have higher level of job satisfaction when they work with a leader that shows positive bright and dark sides personality. It is then important to keep those information in mind when determining the type of managers you want to select in your organization. 


Hogan, R., & Hogan, J. (2001). Assessing leadership: A view of the dark side.  International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 9,  40–51. 

Hogan, R., & Judge, T. (2012). Personality and leadership. Unpublished manuscript.

 Kaplan,  S.  N.,  Klebanov,  M.  M.,  &  Sorenson,  M.  (2008).  Which  CEO  characteristics  and  abilities  matter?   Paper presented  at  Swedish  Institute  for  Financial  Research Conference  on  the  Economics  of  the  Private  Equity Market, New Orleans, LA. 

McCall,  M.  W.,  Jr.  ,&  Lombardo,  M.  M.  (1983).   Off   the track: Why and how successful executives get derailed  (Tech. Rep.  No.  21).  Greensboro,  NC:  Center  for  Creative Leadership. 

 Wiggins, J. S. (Ed.). (1996).  The five-factor model of personality. New York: Guilford.