In leadership, there’s no one-size-fits-all map to success. Leaders are people with intricate personalities, aspirations, and challenges. It’s essential to peer beneath the surface to understand what shapes those who are successful.
An effective tool that promises not just to shed light on the complexities but also help guide leaders and organizations is the Hogan Assessments model.
We at Kay Group recently carried out Hogan Assessments in collaboration with our partners, BMES, for a luxury consumer client. In this article we go into more detail with two case studies, to better explain the potential results of Leadership Coaching and Assessments as a service.
The names in these case studies have been changed in order to protect privacy.
A Closer Look at Hogan Assessments
The Hogan Assessment is a set of personality tests designed specifically for business professionals, offering a 360-degree perspective on an individual’s leadership capabilities. These tests examine three core aspects of personality: the bright side, the dark side, and the inside.
The bright side represents the traits and behaviors one typically exhibits when at their best—essentially how one would perform in a job interview. It highlights competencies, interpersonal skills, and values that generally contribute to success in a career setting.
The dark side comes into play when one is under stress, facing challenges, or simply not paying attention to their behavior. These are the behavioral tendencies that can potentially derail your career or negatively impact relationships at work. Importantly, the dark side isn’t about ‘bad’ qualities but about overusing certain strengths until they become weaknesses.
Finally, the inside explores the underlying motives, preferences, and values that drive behavior—both conscious and unconscious. These internal drivers can either align with or conflict with organizational goals and culture, making it a vital aspect to consider in personal and career development planning.
For example, consider someone who scores low on “adjustment” but high on “leisurely.” On the bright side, this individual might be seen as focused, relaxed, and strong. On the “dark side,” however, this profile could manifest as someone who is resistant to change and struggles under stress.
Authenticity vs Adaptability: The Tale of Junko
Junko’s Hogan profile depicts a leader who is, at her core, a determined individual with a knack for playful problem-solving and idea generation. She is highly self-aware and seeks alignment in her professional environment. However, this wasn’t always reflective of her professional persona.
In her debriefing, Junko mentioned that her private life was a more accurate reflection of her Hogan profile—a person who thrives on solving complex issues, relishes her solitude, and steers clear of interpersonal drama. The reason behind this is rooted in her constant desire to meet expectations.
Because of her high self-awareness, she’s been incredibly receptive to feedback over the years, taking it to heart and molding herself into what she thinks her supervisors expect of her. The result of this is that is seems she’s lost touch with her true self, twisting herself into a metaphorical pretzel of other people’s expectations.
This realization was a tipping point for Junko. The contrast between her ‘real’ self and her ‘work’ self was a wake-up call, prompting her to question the authenticity of her leadership style. She is now at a crossroads: continue down a path of inauthenticity or embrace her true self, leveraging her strengths while being aware of her weaknesses.
Junko’s Next Steps
One immediate step Junko took was to begin setting boundaries at work, asserting her true personality traits rather than continuously adapting to meet external expectations. Recognizing the disconnect between her authentic self and her workplace persona, she initiated conversations with her supervisors to realign her role and responsibilities. This courageous step helped her reclaim her authenticity, allowing her to contribute more effectively and find greater satisfaction in her professional life.
The Benefits of Experienced Coaching
The Hogan Assessment can be transformative, but its true value is unlocked when guided by an experienced coach who can contextualize its findings. Junko’s case underscores the need for this level of expertise. Her assessment results offered her a chance to reshape her leadership style, align it with her authentic self, and in turn improve her performance and results at work.
It’s Not Just About Numbers
The client was down to selecting a new country manager. Two candidates, Tomo and Hiro, both appeared to be highly accomplished and exceptional fits for the leadership role. On paper, each candidate checked all the boxes—experience, skills, and even their Hogan Assessment profiles looked remarkably similar. It was evident that a deeper dive was essential to differentiate between two such closely matched candidates.
Tomo and Hiro presented as bright side Hogan profiles. They scored high on “Adjustment” and “Ambition”, painting a picture of confident, calm, and driven leaders. On paper, even some of their dark side traits overlapped, making the individual debriefings crucial when decision making.
In his debrief, Hiro conveyed confidence and pride in his career trajectory. He mildly questioned the Hogan results, viewing himself as a deep thinker and a multifaceted individual. He likens his leadership style to being both the captain and the striker on a soccer team—a role he is content with.
Tomo, however, demonstrated a nuanced understanding of his profile. He shared real-world examples of how his traits have manifested over time. A pivotal moment came for him during a global training program, where he was compelled to define the kind of leader he aspired to be. Unlike Hiro, Tomo displayed maturity, making deliberate choices about his leadership approach.
The contrasts between the two became glaringly evident when examining their motives, values, and workplace preferences. Tomo had a clear vision for his professional life and was willing to shape his work environment accordingly. Hiro, in contrast, was more passive, amenable to meeting external expectations rather than setting his own.
Critical Insights for Leadership Selection
This case demonstrates that while Hogan profiles can look strikingly similar, the leaders behind them can be vastly different. It underscores the value of thorough debriefings and coaching in translating Hogan results into actionable insights and distinguishing leadership styles.
Hogan Assessments: Final Thoughts
The Hogan Assessment offers an invaluable gateway to self-discovery for the individual taking the test. With the support of a qualified coach, these insights can be shaped into actionable strategies for personal and professional development. However, it’s vital for those interpreting Hogan results to avoid over-simplification or stereotyping. Simply put, high ambition doesn’t automatically make a great leader, nor does a less ‘red’ profile mean easier compatibility. Each Hogan profile is a window into a unique individual, and it takes skilled interpretation to fully understand the person behind the numbers.