The Science of People


Great Women in Leadership Event This Week!

Such a great dialogue at Brandon Hall Group’s Women in Leadership Summit in DelRay Beach this week! We were proud to be sponsors of this inaugural event.

If you want to learn more about some of the topics shared there like leadership gravitas, barriers to success/how to overcome them, and navigating tough questions at work, check out our women in leadership page with lots of resources.

Thanks to all that shared their perspective this week and a special shout out to all the women that joined us as our guests for a great 2 days!


Susan Van Klink shares ideas on Tough Conversations for women at BHG Women’s Leadership Summit.


Behavioral Insight: The Key to Taking Tough out of Tough Conversations

In business, we’re taught to know our competitors and keep our opponents closer than our friends to excel. I lost track of the number of executive planning meetings where The Art of War, an ancient Chinese Military treatise by Sun Tsu, was prescribed as preparation to perform well on the business battlefields.

But, whether they be market competitors or allies or even colleagues, can we really know our business associates well enough to fine tune our strategies and execute our most challenging and crucial plans with—or despite—them? Is there a great way to take the TOUGH out of tough conversations?

Certainly, great preparation helps, so does a clear vision about your mission. But is it possible, practical or even wise to try and engage in a tough conversation in a more productive and maybe less adversarial way?

Next week, I will be on a panel about this topic of tough conversations at Brandon Hall Group’s Women in Leadership Summit, so I’ve been giving this some thought. I think it all depends on behavior.

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CEO Perspective: Creating an Inclusive Leadership Culture

What I’ve Learned About Promoting vs. Squandering Potential


A 2016 Credit Suisse study showed that public companies whose management teams had at least 15% females, delivered 50% better growth than companies with less than 10% females in the C-suite. Yet, there is a leak in the female leadership pipeline: today, women make up 59% of college graduates, 39% of managers, and just 6% of CEOs.

So what can CEO’s and business leaders do to stop squandering the potential of their businesses and their female leaders? Plenty.

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Certified for Success!

Congrats to the Spring 2017 class of SuccessFinder certified practitioners!

Our sold out, week-long training in Toronto last week was filled with animated and engaging discussion throughout the lessons and labs, as organizational development, HR and career counselors learned how to leverage insights from the SuccessFinder assessment to fine tune career strategies.

Click here  for more information on our certification and competency model training as well as our onsite workshops. Or contact us at:



Sports and the Valuable Lessons in Leadership

Almost twenty years ago, I had the privilege of attending a talk given by Ken Dryden, president of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey club at the time, where he shared his perspective on leadership. One concept that has stayed with me since that event was his theory of “the right best player.” He said there are two types of superstars:

  •  Those who have all the skills, talents and abilities to excel but whose innate behaviors lead to team dysfunction, even destruction; and
  • Those who have all the same superstar talents but bring natural behaviors to bear that bring out the best in rest of the team.

As a result of that talk, throughout the rest of my career, I have looked for and hired the “right best players” — people who will bring their incredible talents to their role AND make the team (and ultimately the company) better for it. This philosophy has served me very well as a leader.

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SuccessFinder Named to Top 100 HR Technologies to Watch

At SuccessFinder we are passionate about what we do and inspired by how our customers are using our behavioral assessment software to find and map the right people to the right roles to drive—and even predict— success.

Just three months after launching our standalone business, it is also rewarding to be garnering some industry endorsement as well.

  • This week, we are honored to be included in Recruiting Daily’s Top 100 HR Technologies to Watch list.  Editor William Tincup selected technology providers for this list who “offer products or platforms that are truly innovative in their approach to solving some of our biggest talent challenges.”
  • Last week, our research on successful CEO behaviors was featured on HCMx Radio
  • Last month, two of our executives were added to the Top 300 Women in HR list

We’re honored by the recognition and thrilled at the momentum of our vision for Behavioral DNA career mapping.

As our customers will attest, behavior is the often overlooked “secret sauce” needed to adequately recruit for high impact roles, or identify the right people to for succession and leadership.”  We’re proud to see their use, and the industry’s notice, of our scientifically-proven assessment solution —including a high performance benchmark across more than 500 job roles—that provides up to 85% predictability for career success.


New Video: The Most Overlooked Contributor to Business Performance

Do a Google search on better business performance and you’ll get an avalanche of suggested tools, analytics, books, articles, and conferences about a wide range of “cures” from process to measurement to team dynamics and leadership. Yet this list misses a hugely influential contributor.

It’s not skills, knowledge and experience that are the problem in organizations,” says VP of HR at Morrison Hershfield, Pelly Shafto.  “What gets overlooked is the real barrier to business performance and success: behavior.”

If you want to learn more, check out this new video featuring insights from Pelly and two other senior level executives we are delighted to count among our fantastic customers. Here, they share perspective on how they use SuccessFinder to find and develop the right people with the right behaviors:  their “secret sauce” for business performance.

Indeed, if you are looking for new perspective on any of the following performance levers, it’s worth a listen:

  • Leadership assessment and development
  • High performance benchmarking for key roles
  • Success prediction by person and role
  • Detailed behavioral trait descriptions and mapping.

How important is this hidden performance driver in your business? We’d love to know your thoughts.


Guest Blog: HCMx Radio Features SuccessFinder’s Imposter Syndrome Research

HCMx Radio 59: Understanding the Imposter Syndrome Among Leaders

Guest blogger: Rachel Cooke, Chief Operating Officer at Brandon Hall Group and Host, HCMX Radio.


Check out today’s podcast episode featuring Dr. Larry Cash and Susan Van Klink of SuccessFinder where they share results of their recent research on the analysis of the CEO, called, “Mission Imposter.” The company studied and analyzed 200 male and female CEOs to measure significant differences in the behaviors they use to run leading businesses across North America. Our discussion led to some revealing outcomes related to why female corporate leadership has not significantly increased over the past decade. The research revealed that even women who make it to the top and are successful often exhibit inferiority behaviors, lacking in self-confidence and insecurity.

The study looked at these traits in leaders:

  • Intellect
  • Stamina
  • Innovation
  • Decision-making

Results showed that women surpassed men by 10% in intelligence, but underperformed men by 10-15% self-confidence – self-smarts. Dr. Cash refers to what is known as “the imposter syndrome” since the 1970s—where women don’t feel they are truly worthy of, or ready for, a role.

Cash and Van Klink discussed how the research can be useful in understanding reasons that impair women’s abilities to move ahead faster in the business world. Knowing what these behaviors are and how they can be altered can be instrumental in shaping the future of women leaders.

Van Klink will be part of a panel at Brandon Hall Group’s Women in Leadership Summit, where she will highlight the research we discussed in the podcast.

Held June 15-16 in South Florida, the summit offers female corporate leaders a community experience designed to enhance skills and share ideas. The goal is to share best practices for creating inclusive environments to improve personal and organizational performance. Our research has validated the need to offer targeted development opportunities for women to grow and achieve their potential personally and professionally, and to address the unique internal and external obstacles they face. Click here for presenters and agenda.

CEO Research: Mission Imposter

See details behind SuccessFinder’s “Mission Imposter” research.

Get Details

Predicting Job Performance: Behavioral Assessments Work!


(Note: this is the second in a two-part series, click here for part one)


In our first post in this series, we explored the popularity of the personality assessment in the workplace over the past 50 years, as well as the growing body of research that proves that while the information they provide is useful, it has never been proven effective as a predictor of individual fit nor on the job performance.

Likely, in your own personal experience you’ve also recognized that each job requires something different for success.  We simply have not had the assessment methodology to be able to identify the precise range of personal characteristics needed in each specific job. All to say that attempts to use “big five” personality traits (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism) to predict on-the-job success has had, at best, a very checkered past. Essentially it has promised much and consistently, through the decades, has delivered wholly inadequate success at the realistic level that human capital management has sought.

With the tremendous speed of change and agility required in today’s global business environment, HR and business leaders alike need a much more precise tool to look at the present and future value of its people to its performance. Only when psychometrics has a taxonomic structure of personality as comprehensive and deep as chemistry’s Periodic Table will we be able to truly be a science of predicting human behavior.

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Mission Imposter: Myths Female Executives Tell Themselves

Today is International Women’s Day. Indeed, a great time to reflect on the incredible impact of women in the world and in the workforce. In my long career, I’ve worked with many extremely talented women. But, I’m continually amazed that the number of female executives on leadership teams, in executive roles at companies, and on boards hasn’t made a more significant increase.

As a behavioural researcher, I wanted to know if women executives really come up short in the competencies that make great leaders, or if it is more an issue of perception versus reality that could be holding them back.

One such category of perception is internal. The “Imposter Syndrome” was coined by Georgia State academics in 1978 to describe high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. While both men and women can suffer from discomfort that they don’t have the skills or experience for the role they are in, in general men do a better job to “fake it ‘til you make it.”
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