Professor Adrian Furnham @ the Glow at work network Masterclass – 24th January 2013: Management Incompetence: Why Managers Fail and Derail?

adrian furnham

Glow at work is very excited to be hosting the closest thing to a ‘household’ name within the field of Occupational/Business Psychology in January. Professor Furnham is a true scientist-practitioner, with over 1000 published articles and 50 books, his wide ranging research interests are complemented by his consultancy work with international organisations. I had the pleasure of hearing an extremely entertaining and thought provoking presentation earlier this year by Adrian at a Psychometrics Forum Conference. As he jokingly referred to himself as a management “guru”, in relation to his articles in the FT, the Guardian and the Sunday Times, he engaged the audience with a chorus of ice-breaking jokes and instantly had us in the palm of his hands. Something to look forward to in January; not only his vast and ranging knowledge of leadership, personality and management but also, his incredibly charismatic style and sharp wit. Adrian discussed the ‘dark’ side of personality and management derailment, two fascinating and interlinked areas. Without giving too much material away, I’d like to give you a taster of some of the issues Professor Furnham emphasised. The rest and more, can be discovered at our Masterclass at the Queen’s Club, London on the 24th January. So book your places early to avoid missing out on what promises to be a great event.

During the introduction, two key points were eloquently expressed by Adrian, as take-home messages. The first was the need for ‘selecting-out’ in recruitment, which referred to the process of looking for traits, qualities or characteristics which you don’t want for a leadership role and eliminating candidates on this basis. This should accompany a ‘select-in’ process, more commonly used, where competencies are set and more evidence of these competencies is advantageous for the candidate in their bid for a vacancy. Secondly, too much of a good thing, is a bad thing. This refers to the idea that extremes of personality traits, based on the Eysenckian Spectrum Hypothesis that they are normally distributed, are abnormal. The key is curvilinearity. An optimum is what is desired, hence too little is incompetence, while too much is derailing.

Adrian later went on to describe his perfect leadership personality profile, based on the Big Five Factors of Personality. You may be surprised at what he asserted, which was very much driven by the abundant research into The Big Five. For those of you familiar with The Big Five, what would you say makes the perfect leader (a little reminder of the traits; Extraversion, Neuroticism, Openness, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness)? No spoiler alert needed. I won’t reveal the profile here, but it did spark a heated debate in a room full of Big Five personality practitioners.

The final part of the talk saw Adrian discuss personality disorders, such as anti-social or psychopathic disorders. The latter were characterised by a lack of remorse, narcissism – associated with grandiose and power need, paranoia – which could be good in some sectors i.e. security, schizoid – which was linked to creative types, histrionic (which Adrian jokingly compared himself to) and finally OCD i.e. the perfectionist. Ultimately, research showed that the higher individuals scored in these personality disorders, the more likely they were to derail as leaders.

If the presentation from earlier this year is anything to go on, let alone his years of experience and obvious thirst for innovation in research, this Masterclass will take us on an unparalleled journey through the complexities of personality and highlight how this powerful construct has the potential to take a turn towards the dark side. I’ll be sitting front and center and hope to see many of you there too. Please see our news and events page to book your place today;

Stay railed,


Trainee Occupational Psychologist

Follow me on Twitter: @Raj_Glowatwork

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3 thoughts on “Professor Adrian Furnham @ the Glow at work network Masterclass – 24th January 2013: Management Incompetence: Why Managers Fail and Derail?

  1. LolaO says:

    Big fan!! Looking forward to hearing him at the Dop conference later this month.

  2. LolaO says:

    That’s great Harpal, I guess I will see you there.

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