Category Archives: Glow at work network Masterclasses


Could it be that occupational psychologists (OP) draw on research evidence that is less valid and reliable than a movie review site found online?  Could consultants be promoting psychological interventions that may sound appealing, look good on paper but hold limited to zero evidence supporting validity, reliability or business impact?  Professor Rob Briner from the School of Management, University of Bath and Vice-chair of the Centre for Evidence Based Management posed these and other questions during a Glow at Work master class session on evidence-based organisational psychology.

The use of the term evidence-based emerged in the 1990s within medicine but the principle has extended across other disciplines such as education, public policy and business management.  Within business psychology, an evidence-based approach means basing management decisions through a combination of critical thinking and the most valid and relevant ‘evidence’ (information rooted not only in scientific research but also, expertise, internal business information and even personal experience).

Seems obvious, no?

In reality, not quite.

photo-2Citing examples from employee engagement to executive coaching, Rob highlighted how absence of evidence and lack of research awareness plague organisational psychology practitioner activities.

Four main problem areas were identified.

Clients may not be interested:  multiple factors sway HR practices away from an evidence-based approach.  In addition to cognitive biases and decision-making errors, senior managers are prone to ‘faddism’ or adopting business practices without a solid intellectual foundation (Donaldson & Hilmer, 1998). Internal politics also plays a role.  Do senior managers actually achieve their status within an organisation because of accuracy and findings or because of action and speed?  Is political clout valued more than a rigorous scientific approach?  In many cases the answer is most likely yes.

Don’t trust the Academics:  they have extensive vested interests, are inevitably biased and in reality hold limited knowledge.  A survey of US based business school academics asked respondents whether they knew of faculty engaging in different types of academic misconduct – affirmative answers ranged from 50%-90% depending on misconduct behaviour cited (Bedeian et al., 2010).   And if that wasn’t enough, many academics engage in dubious scientific practice and behaviour (Kepes & McDaniel, 2013).

Some other interesting highlights include:

  • Academics can’t really agree on much:  a 24 item questionnaire survey of 75 OP professors asked that participants indicate where they saw good evidence supporting fundamental findings in organizational psychology – this yielded only 75%+ participant agreement on seven questions (Guest & Zijlstra, 2012)
  • Publishing only positive findings:  negative research results tend not to get published.  In addition, the percentage of hypothesis supporting articles published in journals has risen from approximately 70% to 85% in the period 1990 to 2007 (Fanelli, 2012)
  • HARKing or creating hypotheses after results are known.  Doing science backwards or developing hypothesis after some preliminary analysis in order to ensure alignment with results
  • Null Hypothesis Significance Testing:  Does failure to reject the null hypothesis really mean the null hypothesis is supported? And does a so-called statistically significant finding support the alternative hypothesis?  Why are .01 and .05 drawn as arbitrary lines of significance and therefore of interest?  And what about the issue of a large enough sample size delivering an inevitably significant result?

A lack of systematic reviews:  the aim of a systematic review is to identify all relevant studies on a specific topic and to select appropriate studies based on explicit criteria. These studies are then assessed to ascertain their internal validity.  Unfortunately, we just don’t have many of these reviews in management science or organisational psychology.

Teaching practices are not evidence based (Goodman & O’Brien, 2012): indeed the focus of teaching in most business and OP settings is on student satisfaction.

Rob challenged us to consider what impact on people and organisations our professional practice actually has, and what impact we want it to have.  Rob emphasised that evidence-based practice was a long-term professional commitment that implied being prepared to give up on cherished beliefs.  It would also mean finding clients who would be prepared to accept such an approach and in practice this might mean turning away assignments with organisations not prepared to do so.

In adopting evidence-based practice, Rob suggested making decisions that were conscientious, explicit, judicious and based on different information sources.  Four types of information were suggested for consideration:

  • Evaluated external evidence:  what does systematically reviewed evidence suggest?  What effective interventions feature in the research?  Are they relevant?
  • Practitioner experiences and judgements:  have you seen the problem before?  What are your hunches?  What has worked in the past and how is this situation different?
  • Local context evidence:  what is happening and how do managers perceive it?  What do they think about it?  How do managers view the costs/benefits of a potential intervention?
  • Stakeholders:  the perspectives of those who may be affected by the intervention.  How do they feel? What upside or downside do they see with the proposed plan of action?

Overall, a very entertaining and informative talk that highlighted why nothing should be taken for granted and that a rigorous evidence-based approach can help support better decision-making and management practice.

Michael Webster –


Quite interesting journal produced by SIOP –
The good but depressing book about consumerism and higher education –
Center for Evidence-Based Management website
 Any questions for Rob you can email him at Rob Briner-
The next Glow at Work event is January the17th on Self-Compassion in Leadership– An introductory workshop
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Glow at Work was delighted to host a masterclass on Political Astuteness in leadership with Professor Clive Fletcher of Occupational Psychology at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, where he still holds the title of Emeritus Professor after leaving to work in in private practice.   Clive is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist and one of the relatively few psychologists to be elected to Fellowship of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and Fellowship of The Royal Society of Medicine. He is formerly chair of the occupational psychology section of the BPS. Clive has published extensively on psychological assessment in work settings. He is author of a standard text on Performance Appraisal and on Psychological Testing.

The aim of the masterclass was to give participants an understanding on how thinking of political astuteness in organisational leadership has developed over recent years.  Clive spoke about the need for political astuteness in leadership development-

Greater priority needs to be given to developing leaders with the capacity to manage the political dimension. They need an ability to see and communicate the big picture, make connections, be credible with different groups and broker relevant political and strategic relationships.”  (Charlesworth et al, 2003)

Are politicians born geniuses or are they just trained to be leaders? This question remains a source of debate, although the dominant school of thought would support the latter. Political Astuteness provides evidence for this view.  Moreover, Political Astuteness actually provides leaders in organisations with the skills that they need, as well as helping them to improve those skills in their daily leadership. However, what are the qualities that a fine leader truly needs?

The Framework for Political Astuteness

Political Astuteness highlights five different skills that a good leader should possess:

  1. Personal Skills. This relates to self-awareness of one’s own motives and behaviours and the ability to exercise self-control. It also pertains to being open to others’ opinions and being proactive, initiating action as opposed to waiting for things to happen.
  2. Interpersonal Skills. These are often ‘soft’ skills, as they denote the ability of the leader to negotiate, cope with pressure from others and handle conflict in a manner that is likely to achieve the most productive outcome. These skills also signify a capability to influence the thinking and behaviour of others through getting others’ buy-in and making them feel valued.
  3. Reading People and Situations. This requires leaders to have strong analytical skills and the ability to recognise the wider dynamics, interests, processes, systems and agendas of people and their organisations.
  4. Building Alignment and Alliances. This denotes the ability to recognise and work with difference and conflicts of interest in order to forge new opportunities as well as collaborative action. It is distinct from consensus-building as it relates more to integrating differences as opposed to minimising them.
  5. Strategic Direction and Scanning. The two major components that make up this skill are, firstly, having a long-term vision for the organisation and, secondly, foreseeing the longer-term issues which could potentially have an impact on the organisation. In essence, this skill relates to long-term strategic aims and threats. In other words, it is a specific domain of leadership – Leading with Vision.


The Political Astuteness in Leadership Questionnaire is designed to be a development questionnaire enabling an individual to rate their Political Astuteness through self-assessment. It is not only a tool used by individuals and leaders to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in a leadership and management context, but also serves as a guide on how to perform as effective leaders in political situations in organisations. Exercising these skills in real life is essential, as the way to develop and improve leadership skills is through modelling, shadowing, and mentoring. It is completely experience-oriented.

In sum, Political Astuteness requires several qualities as a leader: knowing yourself as well as others, having a clear vision of a long-term plan, paying attention to details to recognise the dynamic around you, and leading the team with purpose and determination. It does not seek to separate different types of leadership, but integrate these differences so as to develop an outstanding, well-rounded leader.

Furthermore, Political Astuteness also indicates four domains of strength a leader should have: Leading to Deliver, Leading through People, Leading with Drive, and  Leading with Vision.

Four Domains of Leadership

The idea of the four domains derives from Lumina Leader, a psychometric developed by Lumina Learning, in which we can clearly see the four leadership domains in Political Astuteness:

  1. Leading to Deliver. A leader must know how to remain calm under pressure. They need to be self-aware, pay close attention to the data and evidence, and follow through on a detailed plan.
  2. Leading through People. This is an interpersonal skill that denotes building rapport with people at different levels of an organisation, and empowering them with integrity and trust so as to achieve a win-win situation.
  3. Leading with Drive. This relates to providing members of the organisation with clear direction and leading with energy and determination. It also signifies a desire to lead them to ever higher levels of excellence.
  4. Leading with Vision. The willingness to gain a wider knowledge of institutions, political processes and social systems, as well as inspiring and leading others through vision and long-term strategic thinking.

Leadership is never an easy concept to explain and the skills and competencies it requires are never simply tasks to achieve. Continually striving to develop and improve qualities in different domains is vital. This is the case not merely at a personal level in terms of the benefits of greater individual self-awareness, but also given that it can lead to dramatically improved productivity and efficiency across the organisation as a whole. In essence, through transforming leaders, one can transform organisations.

Feedback on the masterclass from some attendees:

–  “thank you once more for a wonderful event. Topical subject of growing importance with a growing Occupational and Organisational Psychology evidence base, great speaker and facilitator, and great hosting and organisation.” David Beech

– “thanks for arranging an awesome evening this Thursday.” Michael Webster

The next Glow at Work masterclass is with Professor Rob Briner on ‘Developing Evidence Based Skills’, on the 21st November from 6-9pm at the Queens Club, London.  To book your place go to

Lulu Tang  – Intern at Lumina Learning



Charlesworth, K., Cook, P. & Crozier, G. (2003) Leading change in the Public Sector: Making the difference. London: CMI. Advisory Panel chaired by Sir Michael Bichard.

Hartley, J., and Fletcher, C. (2008). Leading with Political Awareness: Leadership across diverse interests inside and outside the organization. In Leadership Perspectives: Knowledge into Action Eds. K T James & J Collins. London: Palgrave

Hartley, J., Fletcher, C., Wilton, P., Woodman, P., & Ungemach, C. (2007) Leading with Political Awareness: Developing Leaders Skills to Manage the Political Dimension Across All Sectors. Chartered Management Institute: London

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Glow at Work Masterclass – Sustaining Engagement at Work on 20th JUNE 2013 with Emma Donaldson-Feilder

Being an occupational psychology (OP) Master’s student, Harpal’s Masterclasses were among the highlights of this year. I really enjoyed the different topics the masterclasses offered and the fact that these topics were delivered by experts.  I also managed to network at the masterclasses with some fantastic people from the field and beyond.

Once again, inspiring Harpal has organised a fantastic masterclass, which was delivered by Emma Donaldson-Feilder, a renowned researcher and practitioner Occupational Psychologist who specialises in wellbeing and health at work, she is also a director of Affinity Health at Work and a coaching psychologist (I have been secretly looking forward to meeting Emma for months, at last it happened!).

Emma’s masterclass was about sustaining employee engagement at work. She started by generating discussions about what engagement meant to us, which resulted in plenty of suggestions, Emma then gave us her comprehensive definition, which congregated almost all the suggestions! Emma suggested that employee engagement has three components: thinking, feeling, and acting. Thinking referred to employees focusing on what they do, feeling referred to employees feeling good about themself in their role and the organisation, and acting referred to employees acting in a way that shows commitment to the organisational values and objectives.

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Emma then went on to give us some remarkable findings from her research on sustainable engagement, while keeping the session very interactive.  First of them was that engagement alone was not enough! Engagement teamed with wellbeing resulted in sustainable employee engagement and productivity. The second finding was the important role of managers in employee wellbeing and engagement. To illustrate this point, Emma sparked discussions about examples of managers from our work experiences and how effective they were in the three dimension of engagement, And whether those behaviours helped with stress levels too. We then learned that 5 Manager competencies were vital for sustaining employee engagement;

(a) fairness and consistency,

(b) conflict and problem handling,

(c) knowledge, clarity and guidance,

(d) building and sustaining relationships,

(e) supporting development.

These findings have implications for managers, employers, and public policy.  Managers need to identify which of those behaviours they already have and which they need to develop. Employers need to support managers to develop those competencies through for example, learning and development with upward feedback.  Implications for public policy included the promotion of sustainable engagement by the ‘Engage for success’ movement, and the possibility of bringing sustainable engagement into skills policy and management training. She also gave us a glimpse of exciting future research affinity at work had planned on the subject starting in September this year.

Emma’s sustainable engagement masterclass was refreshing! I recently attended three employee engagement workshops by three different international OP consultancies, all of them said that they advise their clients to sustain engagement through conducting engagement surveys once every 12 months. It is obvious that sustaining engagement through developing manager competencies is at least more cost effective, than costly and time consuming engagement surveys once a year!

Thank you Emma and Harpal for a lovely thought provoking evening!






Siham Bentaleb


More information:

Preventing Stress in Organizations:  How to Develop Positive Managers-

Engage for Success –

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This happened to be yet another insightful, inspirational and innovative evening organised by Harpal Dhatt, CEO of the Glow at Work in the Queens Tennis Club in London on 23rd May 2013.

Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Professor of Business Psychology at the University College London (UCL), Vice President of Research & Innovation at Hogan Assessments, a visiting Professor at New York University, author of many books and scientific papers and a world authority in personality profiling and psychometric testing, was an invited speaker to deliver the Masterclass on the theme of ‘Identifying & Developing Entrepreneurial Potential at Work.’


At the onset of the event, the message came loud and clear: Entrepreneurship Matters!  We were persuaded by Tomas’s excellent presentation skills that entrepreneurship is the major source of employment, growth and progress, as every successful organisation was once a new venture.  His claim was that the best way to break into a business is to innovate by offering new products or services.

Tomas, also renowned for his successful consultancy work, posed some interesting questions for a debate: What drives entrepreneurial success?  Are there any tools to quantify entrepreneurial talent?  The mini-quiz followed on the line – how much environmental factors, chance or personal factors influence entrepreneurial capacity.  This gave an opportunity to the participants to voice their views and to ask some intellectually stimulating questions.

Tomas successfully ‘planted the seed’ – bad leadership is a major cause of entrepreneurship as there is a lack of value for employees’ creativity or fostering innovation. The healthy debate opened up some new avenues of thinking about the concept of leadership in general and the process of disengagement which might force entrepreneurial talent out of an organisation.

Tomas also offered glimpses of the global outlook on the process of entrepreneurship by stating that Europe does not produce enough innovative companies.  He then moved to passionately discuss the ins and outs of entrepreneurial talent, considered as the ability to create value and stimulate growth and progress via innovation.  This is successfully achieved by shifting resources from low to high productivity areas in order to exploit opportunities.  According to him, the DNA of entrepreneurial talent consists of creativity (generating ideas), opportunism (identifying gaps), proactivity (acting with drive) and vision (having meaningful mission).

The personality profile of talented entrepreneurs is based on openness – being curious and flexible, conscientiousness – being driven and persistent, extraverted – being outgoing, dominant and optimistic, agreeable – being warm and friendly and non anxiousbeing secure, stable and cool-headed.  Research has shown that there is no correlation between IQ and entrepreneurship but there is with EQ.

The final part of this truly engaging evening due to Tomas’s charismatic presentation, was the introduction of his newly developed psychometrics tool – META (Measuring Entrepreneurial Potential – Talent and Abilities).  We were pleased to find out that this tool can find its application on an individual, but also team level (based on similar values and complementary styles) in order to identify, manage and retain entrepreneurial talent.  However, it can be applied in a broader context as well, by looking into how to foster an entrepreneurial culture.  According to Tomas, this can be successfully achieved by boosting innovation, tolerating failure, promoting an opportunistic mind set and looking for vision.

IMG_2660His talk definitely stirred everyone’s thinking towards identifying and fostering entrepreneurship in order to out-perform competitors of organisations and provided food for thought by considering if there is a natural entrepreneur in ANY organisation.

As an added bonus to this truly exciting event, the participants had a chance to complete the Meta psychometric tool (, designed to identify their creative and entrepreneurial potential.

While the Curtain went down for this memorable event, some of the participants continued the debate on this hot topic in the nearby pub ‘Curtain’s Up’.

Luckily, not very long left until the next Glow at Work event on the 20th June on ‘Sustaining Engagement at work’ with Emma Donaldson- Feilder

This is some of the video footage from last weeks masterclass:

Zorica Patel CPsychol, MSc, PGCHE, BSc (Hons), BA (Hons)

Chartered Occupational and Registered Coaching Psychologist

Senior Lecturer in the HRM Department, Westminster Business School

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I recently learned about Glow at Work through LinkedIn. I contacted the chief executive, Harpal and was kindly invited to the Glow at Work masterclass given by Neal Gething on “Cultivating Personal Wellbeing and Resilience.” During the masterclass, Neal informed us that he wasn’t going to be talking about wellbeing; however, we spent a fascinating two hours learning about resilience.

As an aspiring Occupational Psychologist I had read briefly about resilience, but I hadn’t researched it in detail nor had I had any academic teaching on it.  Neal was a great speaker; he was engaging, informative and welcomed questions or comments. My favourite definition of resilience that Neal gave was that it is the ability to bounce or spring back into position. In particular, Neal highlighted the fact that it wasn’t just springing back but springing back into position.

photo 4

One of the particularly enjoyable parts of the masterclass was the practical exercise that we all did. We were asked to describe on paper, a challenging interaction, which could be in the past or present. Neal emphasised that resilience takes place in the context of a relationship but this can be a relationship with anything, e.g. your body. Neal then guided us through a series of questions about the interaction, culminating in us finding an alternative ego-state or way of thinking. Most people seemed to benefit from doing the exercise, even if the outcome in the past wasn’t the desired one or if the situation was currently ongoing and therefore not resolved. I found this exercise encouraging and the general consensus seemed to be that the exercise was helpful. It appeared it was beneficial to be able to put the particular situation onto paper.

The masterclasses take place in The Queen’s Club, which is picturesque and a lovely setting. The atmosphere was very welcoming and friendly. It was really easy to network and I look forward to attending another one.


I think if I was only able to remember one thing from the masterclass it would be to remember that resilience is choosing who you want to be in a situation, and that if you don’t choose who you want to be in a situation then the unconscious will choose for you. I found this idea of choosing who I wanted to be in a situation rather empowering, so I left feeling both enlightened and empowered. Perhaps it was this feeling that made me decide to go for a beverage with Harpal and some others after the masterclass….

Thank you Harpal and Neal for such a great first masterclass.  The next masterclass is with Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic on ‘Identifying & Developing Entrepreneurial Potential at Work on the 23rd May 6-9pm

Kate Godfree


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Glow at Work Masterclass- Mindfulness at Work- Gary Born – 21st March 2013

Gary Born’s ‘Mindfulness in the Workplace’ session was truly fantastic for three reasons. Firstly, the session did not involve bells, bare feet, sitting on the floor, or unknown and unexplained words (really make us feel like outsiders). While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the above, it’s exactly these more ‘exotic’ elements of mindfulness and meditation that can be off-putting or alienating for some of us. Indeed – as a woman from the workplace, being asked to sit cross-legged while wearing stockings and a skirt can create immediate embarrassment and awkwardness! Gary’s practical approach reminded us all that practising mindfulness can actually be integrated into our daily lives very naturally.
Secondly, the session involved several actual practices of mindfulness exercises. I felt more calm, present and centred after these. In fact – the real point of this focus on the breath hit me. Why the breath? Why are meditation and mindfulness exercises always talking about ‘the breath’? Well – the way I understand it is that that the breath is always there. The fact that it is always there is rather calming. It’s a constant presence in every minute of our lives. In fact, taking this a little further – we are always here. Odd as that sounds (!) – how often are we so involved in the emails on our screens, the PowerPoint slide we are battling with, and the voices of others all around us, that we forget that we are here, too? We are often ignored, avoided or simply de-prioritised in the busyness of life and work. Mindfulness, as I understand it, is about remembering that we are here, and that being aware of ourselves is valuable. In this way, we can develop greater self-awareness – a benefit to ourselves and others.

Thirdly, Gary showed us how mindfulness has really reached the consciousness of the western world in the last decade or so. Since the start of this century, research into mindfulness has increased exponentially, mindfulness-based therapies are now available on the NHS, and mainstream media have featured it frequently. Far from being something remote and exotic, mindfulness is becoming much more common, understood, and valued. This brings to mind two big messages for me. Firstly – how wonderful that mindfulness is now more commonly understood and accepted, with all that it can offer individuals and workplaces. Secondly – what other ideas, philosophies and approaches are we currently aware of but hiding for fear that they are ‘remote and exotic’? What value could those ideas bring to individuals and the workplace? In another decade, the world will have moved forward either way. We can take heart from the story of mindfulness; there are many valuable ideas yet to be brought to light. We just need the courage and awareness of them to do so. Mindfulness seems like a good place to start…


Thank you to Gary and Harpal for a fantastic session!

Lisa Pobereskin –

Lisa Pobereskin

Organisational Psychology MSc student at City University, Intern at Thompson Dunn, Business Psychology Consultancy

References & Further reading from the masterclass:

• Organisations that offer Mindfulness Training:

  • Oxford Mindfulness Centre –
  • Mindfulness Works-
  • Mindfulnet-
  • Workplace Prosperity-
  • The Mental Health Foundation- – –

• Books, articles and videos

  • Michael Chaskalson, The Mindful Workplace: Developing Resilient Individuals and Resonant Organizations with MBSR
  • Mark Williams and Danny Penman , Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World
  • Chade-Meng Tan, Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace)
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever you go, there you are
  • “Mindfulness,  Meditation,  Wellness  and  Their  Connection  to  Corporate   America’s  Bottom  Line”,  Huffington  Post,    18th  March  2013
  • Wisdom 2.0 (2012 videos):
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Glow at Work February Masterclass- “Innovation & Creativity in the Workplace” with Sarah Garrett

We have two perspectives for you on the masterclass, one is from Jem who has worked at the NHS Institute of Innovation & Improvement and is now working in an NHS community organisation, helping NHS staff to think differently.  The second perspective is from Harpal who has also worked with the Institute on creativity, innovation and change projects, helping individuals to understand change and how they can better handle it.

I was very fortunate to be invited to an evening workshop on creativity and innovation, masterfully presented by Sarah Garrett, the co-author of the acclaimed NHS Institute for Innovation & Improvement publication Thinking Differently. The event, hosted at the prestigious Queen’s Tennis Club, was run by the excellent Glow at work team who drew together a group of like-minded individuals, spanning both public and private sector organisations to discuss a critical area for business success.

The art of creative thinking and the ability to innovate is, for many organisations, the deciding factor between global success (i.e. Virgin, Google) and sudden failure (anyone remember Polaroid…?). In the NHS we are no exception – the current financial and political climate has ensured that the requirement for finding cheaper, better ways of doing things is being driven higher up the agenda. Finding ways to enable people to break out of the traditional ways of thinking that restrict innovation is a major challenge for many organisations. For an industry which is as reliant on hierarchy, tradition and the unwritten rules as the NHS, it is key to navigating the bumpy road ahead and ensuring long term sustainability.

Continue reading

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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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Glow At Work November Masterclass – “Positive Psychology In Practice” with Miriam Akhtar

Miriam MasterclassWe have two perspectives from attendees of Miriam’s masterclass, the first is a summary from Zorica Patel followed  by a more in depth account from Marco Bellin:

From the beginning of the event Miriam Akhtar oozed with positivism.  This was the best tribute to her presentation on Positive Psychology and Positivity for the evening audience in the Queens Tennis Club on Thursday 29th November 2012.  As usual, Miss Dhatt, who stands behind Glow at Work’s increasing success, managed to attract quite a few participants (the numbers are growing with every event) to find out more and practice further, the ins and outs of Positive Psychology.

From the onset we explored many useful applications of Positive Psychology within the coaching arena, for example helping to increase well-being or enhancing clients’ strengths. The ‘colourful umbrella’ of topics  being covered in an engaging style included maintaining positive relationships, building resilience, searching for meaning and purpose, exercising an attitude to gratitude and sustaining positive direction.   This message came across strongly – the skills, habits and actions for a happier, more fulfilling life can be learned.

I would sum up my overall feeling following this highly enjoyable event:  our attention should be focused towards goodness in life over, often more impactful, negativity bias.  It seems that searching for our own resourcefulness should provide the key to success and happiness in all areas of our lives.

Zorica Patel, CPsychol, MSc- Senior Lecturer in the HRM Department at the University of Westminster – Module Leader for Applying the tools of Positive Psychology in Business

What is Positive Psychology and Positivity really about? This is probably one of the main questions that attracted people to yesterday’s Masterclass at the Queen’s Club in London. Glow at Work, the London-based Business Psychology consulting firm, offers amongst its range of services, Masterclasses on a variety of topics. These classes take place on a monthly basis addressing the intellectual curiosity that satisfies it’s always more eager-to-learn audiences. Keeping up an impressive trend, Glow at Work has been able to secure a top-notch speaker and a leading professional for November’s Masterclass, Miriam Akhtar. Among the first to graduate from the Masters in Applied Positive Psychology in Europe, she is a coach, trainer, facilitator, consultant, as well as a visiting lecturer at the University of East London. She is also a trainer of the Penn Resilience Program, created by Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of Positive Psychology along with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Miriam Akhtar showed from the very beginning of the Masterclass how keen she is to apply Positive Psychology to her daily life as well as to her clients’ lives and businesses. She was like a messenger, whose genuine intent was to disseminate the countless benefits Positive Psychology has to offer. Her passion, along with her vitality, shined throughout the whole event, where she combined interactive discussions with positivity boosting exercises.

Now, the question that probably keeps popping up in your mind is what Positive Psychology ultimately is. Drawing from the rich journey and learning experience Miriam brought us through, Positive Psychology is a new ‘arm’ of classic Psychology where the main aim is to focus on the positive sides, rather than combating the negatives and getting to a neutral point. This does not mean forgetting the rest of Psychology, or avoiding the downsides of our experiences. Rather, it is about finding out how to feel good and function well, not just as individuals, but also as part of groups (communities in a wider sense) and as partners in a relationship. It does not regard solely the workplace, but what we are looking at has spillover in every aspect and sphere of our lives. This has the power to influence our jobs, our private dimensions, and our society as a bigger part of our communities. The ripple effect of Positive Psychology can be outstanding. Indeed, having said that, you should not be surprised to hear that, at the beginning of the second half of last decade, the most popular course at Harvard University was not Macroeconomics 101 but rather Positive Psychology. Students from every walk of life and with the most disparate life experiences and mental statuses were there to learn about the ‘Science of Happiness’. Why? Because something was missing. They were eager to learn how to become happy. Positive Psychology was officially conceived in 1998 to bring us on a higher path where the final destination will be a fulfilling and flourishing life. This new branch of Psychology covers topics such as happiness, self-esteem, empathy, friendship, love, goal-setting, achievement, creativity, mindfulness and spirituality.

So, what did happen overnight? In an ever-changing society, where rhythms, competition, and uncertainties skyrocketed as never before, the need to build on what is already working (health continuum and model), instead of endlessly catching up (disease continuum and model) arose. The aims of Positive Psychology according to Dr. Seligman were highlighted, as they consist of entering a new perspective where psychology should be as concerned with strengths as with weaknesses; as interested in building the best things in life as in fixing the worse; as concerned with making people’s lives more fulfilling as with healing mental diseases. Last but not least, interventions that boost happiness and human well-being should become the norm, rather than the exception.

In other words, Positive Psychology asks a different question from what we were used to earlier. The question now is: How can we bounce back from adversity (rather than asking ourselves how to get to the 0 point)? It is not about putting on a smiling face no matter what is happening in our lives. It is about acknowledging that there is something positive even in the worse scenario that could happen to us.

After this eye-opening experience and discovery journey that Glow at Work made possible, I would like to thank Miriam Akhtar for an engaging presentation and truly-felt message based on her drive and compelling desire to see people shine out. The energy and the vibe flowing in the conference room at the end of the Masterclass was not the same as in the beginning. Perhaps, a flourishing phase was already starting to sprout in each one of us, as a sort of realising process where we recognise that our lives are full of positive and bright sides, as opposed to the negatives that we are always exposed to on a daily basis. But, as a first place sprinter would be much better off by focusing on his/her race rather than on the second place runner catching up on him/her, it is only by focusing on well-being (and on what is already working in order to build upon it) that we can define ourselves as ‘flourishing’, or even better, ‘glowing’.

To find out more about Miriam Akhtar go to or follow her on twitter @pospsychologist


Marco Bellin, MSc 

Marketing & Business Development Intern at Glow at Work

Binna Kandola Masterclass Overview – 25th October 2012

After the success of Binna’s intriguing Masterclass on unconscious bias, priming and the importance of diversity, one of our attendees, Sanjay Bhogaita, an independent Business Psychologist has summarised what he took away from the evening:

I was fortunate in that my first Masterclass event was hosted by one of the most respected names in the area of diversity, inclusion and equal opportunities. Binna Kandola’s exploration of valuing difference at work and eliminating bias in organisations was engaging, interactive and thought provoking. On a deeper, more personal level however, I was able to reflect on my own biases and the stereotypes I hold. Binna’s distinction between “knowing, believing and acting” made this process somewhat easier. Just because we may know of certain stereotypes, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we believe these stereotypes nor does it mean we act on them.

Race, culture, age, disability and sexual orientation. These are sensitive issues in the workplace and society in general and we rarely speak openly about them. A discussion emerged in the Masterclass around situations in which individuals are not permitted to talk about such issues. But what are the implications of this? We suppress these stereotypes which paradoxically increase our stereotypical views.

Unconsciously this may manifest in our behaviour and body language creating a tense, anxious environment. Binna cited research that had shown recruiters who were told that their candidate was “elderly”, had walked significantly slower when going to greet them, compared to a control group of recruiters who weren’t told such information. What other connotations come with the word “elderly”? Now consider the use of words that convey the agentic male vs. the communal female in job-descriptions (e.g. ambitious, self-confident and assertive vs. sensitive, nurturing and helpful). What are the implications of this in a recruitment and selection context? The power of language.

Who would’ve thought that the priming phenomenon in the cognitive psychology module back at undergraduate would be so relevant in explaining such rapid association formation.

Thank you to both Binna and the Glow at Work team; for those of you reading this that haven’t been to a Masterclass session, I would strongly recommend it; you may well be surprised at what you may learn and take away with you!

Many thanks,

Sanjay Bhogaita

Independent Business Psychologist

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