The Science of People


Dream of Being the Boss? Behaviors that Boost the Best Entrepreneurs

“You’re not the boss of me!”  Sure, as a parent I’ve heard this refrain a few times.  And I, like many of you, have fanaticized about being an entrepreneur.  But here’s the cold reality.  In their first year, four of every six small business fails.  And in my world, in the heart of Silicon Valley, only one in ten makes it ( 90% of tech startups fail ).

Yet, small business is the backbone most economies are built on.  According to the US Small Business Administration, small businesses make up:

  • 7 percentof U.S. employer firms,
  • 64 percent of net new private-sector jobs,
  • 2 percentof private-sector employment, and
  • 9 percentof private-sector payroll.

So, there are clearly many with the chutzpah to have a go at entrepreneurship. So what is the secret sauce that gives these leaders the courage to take on this daunting challenge?

Toronto management consultant, Laurence Ginsberg says, “In the end, the acid test is how they react when they have to meet a payroll and don’t have the money.”  Yikes!  But what if you could better predict your chances of succeeding in small business or technology startup, before wrestling with the nightmare scenario Ginsberg nets out?

It turns out you can. In fact, predicting job performance is something that our small company, SuccessFinder, does exceedingly well.  Since launching the company last year, it’s given me my own entrepreneurial petri dish.  If you truly want to predict success as an entrepreneur, your behaviors—how you act— turn out to be as important as your education, experience, and skills combined.  As you may know or have seen yourself, a good track record as an executive is no guarantee of future success — especially when it comes to starting your own business.

In the entrepreneurial domain, we look hard at your style of thinking, your street sense and your ‘survivability.’  Toughness, drive and a certain ego are all parts of the equation.  You also need tenacity for the long game that is small business.  And unfortunately, like football players who anticipate being jumped on, so should new business executives be prepared for a lot of pummeling, over a long period.

While success in small business comes more easily to people with high standards of personal integrity, good health and a solid family life, they are preceded with the street smarts to know what pitfalls to avoid. The four most common:

  • Ensuring adequate cash flow
  • Picking the best market niche
  • Not investing in good advisors
  • Sloppy bookkeeping

Still intrigued if you’ve got the right stuff to put your name on the door of your own business?  We can help.  Contact us at and we can hook you up with SuccessFinder-certified practitioner who can help you uncover your entrepreneurial strengths and any areas you might want to further develop to make the most of your dreams to be your own boss.

As for me, with one son in the college and one working full time, I’m clearly no longer “the boss” of either of them.  Luckily, I have a partner who lets me play boss at least half the time.

Author:  Lisa Hartley, SuccessFinder CMO

International Women’s Day – Be Ambitious!

How many times have you heard the following comments from a colleague, girlfriend or relative, when in your opinion, she’s got everything needed to succeed?

I don’t have the qualifications for this job you know

I’m still not ready to take on this challenge

I’m afraid that if I take this promotion, I will be neglecting my family

More than ever, the issue of women’s access to leadership roles is discussed over and over again in the business community. Recent studies show that 40% of the Canadian companies surveyed have no women in executive positions, and 46% have a male-only board of directors. How can the work environment be better suited so that women have more opportunities to break that famous “glass ceiling” and claim their own place?  Increasingly, efforts are being made to put in place systems, measures, and organizational cultures that promote equal opportunities.  This is excellent news and certainly a significant step in the right direction.

What if, that was not all? What if, we as women could go one step further to change our own inner perceptions and self-talk about success?

Optimum Talent has conducted various assessments and completed numerous interventions that now allow us to help women position themselves as leaders. Supported by science, we firmly believe that the skills required to become an impact leader in today’s world are just as prominent in women as in men!

However, a decisive factor comes into play when boosting one’s career: our own confidence in our ability to realize our potential. And in this regard, clearly, men and women differ. A study by the SuccessFinder team indicates that the biggest differentiator between men and women in leadership positions is their personal belief system, with women tending to cultivate a more negative inner dialogue and a sense of lower self-efficacy than their male counterparts. In other words, women would be more cautious in their professional choices, more critical of themselves and their performance.

As professionals, however, we know from experience that this inner speech can be modified. Our team at Optimum Talent offers leadership workshops leadership workshops and personalized coaching to help women to unravel some negative beliefs that hinder their ability to develop high ambitions for themselves, in order to turn them into a more accurate and realistic assessment of their situation.  Allowing yourself to consider ambitious goals, while giving oneself the right to make mistakes and space for learning, increases your personal strength against stereotypes.  The perception of others or of a less favorable organizational culture to the emergence of female talent is a way of taking control of one’s destiny by getting ready to step out of one’s comfort zone to meet new challenges and to break through where our passion resides.

On this International Women’s Day, we encourage you ladies to take a few minutes to celebrate and congratulate yourself #PressforProgress

Annie LaFreniere, M.Ps.                                          Nadia Salvanti, M.Ps. Sc., CRHA
Director                                                                  Senior Consultant
Leadership Assessment & Development                Leadership Assessment & Development





The struggle is real…

When making talent management decisions and trying to determine how much impact that specific person will have continues to be too much of a guessing game.  To address soft skills the solutions are often too soft.  Most companies today want to determine the competency profile of their leaders at each level as they know it’s critical for selection, career development and succession. An organization we recently worked with tried the following approach before coming to Optimum Talent:  they surveyed their managers in one on one focus group settings and collected culture and leadership information.  The HR teams extracted a limited number of behaviours relevant to the business and tried to use that as a basis for hiring and succession.  But ultimately this approached didn’t provide the repeatable framework for success.

And this shouldn’t be surprising.  Why would the opinion of a few about something as complex as leadership behaviours become a usable tool for selection and performance prediction across the enterprise?  This approach does not have an ounce of science to it.  At best it’s a good starting place for discussion, and at worst it’s a melting pot of competencies, behaviours, personality traits, and values that are practically unusable.  This lack of rigor by talent management professional leads to inefficient practices and poor results.  Organizations deserve better.

Rigor and science

Imagine a physician who treated his patient based on the opinion of his peers.  That would never fly! Rigor and science is foundational, not opinions.  If we want to identify the DNA of highly effective leaders, we must also apply the same approach.  That’s exactly what SuccessFinder did in their comprehensive study the Ladder of Leadership. They used an in-depth and scientifically accurate psychometric tool that goes so deep and broad that it is akin to the periodic table in psychology; it measures all the behavioral traits and competencies that can be identified statistically. To do this SuccessFinder assessed over 1,000 leaders, from first level to CEO, and gathered demonstrated performance data on the job.

This process is no different than the identification of your DNA profile that organizations like 23AndMe or can do for you.   SuccessFinder extracted the exact traits and competencies that correlate with high performance at each level of leadership. That is NOT a guessing approach, not an opinion of a guru who personally was successful; it is rigorous and solid, valid and can be repeated. And the result of their study is a game changer.

For example, the study indicates: 
There are 2 “Always on” competencies that are important at every level of management, which are the ability to lead decisively and thrive in chaos.
There are some “Leaping behaviours” that bridge between first/intermediate to senior-level management and a different set between senior and C-level management.
And finally, there are some very specific “Leading behaviours” unique to each leadership stage.  I encourage you to read all the details.

So many benefits 

The benefits of the Ladder of Leadership study are enormous. The behaviours and competencies are listed clearly – no contradictions, no vague statements.   In our practice we will use to help clients:

  • Develop and prepare first level leaders for the next level up.
  • Identify the critical gaps for leaders in prime positions that will keep them from achieving their goals.
  • Identify high but hidden-potential performers for executive team positions.

Of course, we are not measuring pieces of metal or working with chemical mix when we deal with talent management, we will always have some human factors that will come into play and influence the solutions and decisions. But adding solid science and rigor to our practices will make a significant impact on the business results and the appreciation of the talent management professional contribution.

About the Author:

Jocelyn Bérard is National Practice Leader, Leadership Assessment and Development at Optimum Talent. Fluently bilingual in French and English, Jocelyn holds undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Human Resources, a Master Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and an Executive MBA.  Jocelyn’s book, titled “Accelerating Leadership Development”, was published by Wiley and focuses on leadership assessment, leadership development and succession management.


SuccessFinder’s New Research Uncovers Unique Behaviors Key to Climbing Career Ladder

Ladder of Leadership

MONTREAL, Jan. 25, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — SuccessFinder, a talent assessment and career success prediction company, today announced the findings of it “Ladder of Leadership” research, which shows a direct correlation between the most successful business leaders and specific behaviors at first/intermediate-level, senior-level and C-levels of management.

The new research collected over a two-year period, used a database of over 1,000 high performing managers.  The findings suggest three types of behavioral competencies that are required for success at —and between— each level:

  • Always on: Two fundamental behavioral competencies are important at every level of management — to lead decisively and thrive in chaos.
  • Leap: There are a few bridging behaviors between first/intermediate to senior-level management and a different set between senior and C-level management.
  • Lead: And there are a few competencies unique to each leadership stage.

“As a behavioral researcher, I wanted to understand the details around the What got you here won’t get you there mantra,” said Dr. Laurence Crevier-Braud, Research Director at SuccessFinder. “What our team found is that there are key competencies that all leaders need, and others that are distinctly different at each rung of the corporate ladder.”

For example, the research found at mid-management level it is crucial to be able to build consensus. But at senior management level, it’s more important to demonstrate character. By the C-level, the most important people skill is exercising political influence.

“Our clients are calling this a game changer”, said Jocelyn Bérard, Sr. Vice President, Leadership Assessment and Development at Optimum Talent, a large executive development and talent management consulting firm.

This type of research, in addition to the unique predictive cloud-based SuccessFinder assessment test is driving customer demand and investment. In fact, since the company relaunched the brand 12 months ago, it has posted double digit growth.

About the Ladder of Leadership Research
SuccessFinder research has created a framework that shows clearly the behavioral propensities that characterize exceptional performance at each leadership level, as well as the transitional behaviors that will be necessary to adapt from one level to the next.  It is the practical application for managing in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world.

The database for the research consisted of 1,003 high performers, including: 711 first/intermediate-level managers (including managers and directors); 209 senior–level managers (including senior directors and vice-presidents) and 83 CEOs. The KPIs used to identify high performers included:

  • Tenure (10 years or more in the role)
  • Consistent managerial ratings (composite average of 3-5 supervisors’ ratings of the individual’s performance in a formal yearly performance review)
  • 360º feedback results
  • Special designations/awards

For a copy of the Ladder of Leadership research, download it at, or join our next webcast.
For information on identifying and developing high potential leaders in your organization click here.
Or contact us at:

About SuccessFinder                                                              
SuccessFinder is a talent assessment and career success prediction company, proven at more than 75 global and mid-sized organizations.  Its robust cloud-based platform is used to predict — with 85% accuracy — the “behavioral DNA”​ connection between people’s behavioral traits and their likelihood to succeed across more than 500 unique roles. Don’t hire for skills and hope for behavior: map the traits that matter with SuccessFinder.

Media Contact:
Lisa Hartley

Most Personality Quizzes are Junk Science, I found one that isn’t.

After reading this recent post from fivethirtyeight I had to share with you a conversation I had with SuccessFinder founder, Dr. Larry Cash. 

Q:  Larry, what do you think about this article?  Do you think the Big 5 (extroversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, openness, and agreeableness) can provide meaningful data? 

A:  No, not really.  Since when did human being’s personality become so simplistic?  While there are no doubt these big 5 personality tests are fun and informative when seeking self-awareness, they have been found to be of no practical or useful value for predicting on the job performance. Certainly no one ought to be relying on them for making high stakes hiring decisions that impact other people’s life. They simply are not psychometrically constructed to do this.

Why do I say this? Consider that in the 7th century the most sophisticated chemical science of the day was referred to as ALCHEMY. It relied on 5 basic core elements: AIR, WATER, EARTH, FIRE, and something akin to SPIRIT — That’s it, no more.  Now jump forward 1400 years later to Modern Chemistry in the 21st century, we find the periodic table with 96 natural elements identified.

My point?   While Modern Chemistry has moved beyond its ancient 1400-year-old roots of Alchemy and has advanced to a truly sophisticated complex scientific model of understanding the world around us, Big 5 psychometric measurement in the 21st century is still rooted in Behavioral Alchemy … just as 1400 years ago.  In my first year of psychology I was taught the Cardinal Rule of Psychology: “All behavior is caused, and the causes are multiple, complex and inter-related.” Exactly, where does the phenomenon of human complexity exist within such a simplistic psychological model of science akin to Alchemy?

Q:  So if the Big 5 doesn’t work, what does? 

A:  I’m glad you asked.  My life’s work, the SuccessFinder career assessment was founded on the premise that we as humans, and the dynamics of our everyday behavior, are certainly as complex as the modern scientific model of natural chemistry. Like the periodic table, the SuccessFinder model measures 85 statistically distinct human behaviors – not 5!


Think of it this way.  Would you like to be judged “innocent or guilty” in a court of law based on a thumb print from the crime scene matching only 5 of your own identification minutiae points – instead of the full range of minutiae points below?

Relying on the 5-trait personality psychometric model to make high stakes decisions that impact others lives is much like being convicted of a crime only on whether your blood type “O” (there are only four basic blood types: A, B, AB, O) matched the blood type “O” sample from the crime scene. Would you not feel better if an advanced DNA scientific method were being relied on for this kind of decision?
*Hint: 38 percent of the world has the same blood type as you!

Consider if a witness stated that they recognized you at the crime scene from a fuzzy video cam image with only 5 pixels vs. a full range of 85 facial pixels –

         5 Pixels        or          85 Pixels

We may not be using personality tests in the courtroom, but we’re certainly using them to find, hire, develop, and promote leaders.  Shouldn’t we be using 21ST CENTURY PSYCHOMETRIC SCIENCE?

by: Lisa Hartley

Larry Cash, Founder & Creator, SuccessFinder

Larry Cash

Founder & Creator
An innovator who co-developed the SuccessFinder tool and framework that has been used for over 35 years by companies globally. Featured in over 20 publications including WSJ, Canadian Business magazine and Financial Post. Larry holds an MS in Clinical Psychology, and PhD in Counselling Psychology at OISE where he taught as a graduate instructor for five years



Living, Leading & Thriving Retreat

Twelve amazing women joined SuccessFinder’s exclusive, small group forum at beautiful Spa Eastman on March 14, 2018 for a 2 1/2 day retreat. They learned the skills to live and thrive, learned about themselves and the behaviors they display most naturally and that contribute to their success. We also discussed their natural leadership propensities and how they can be harnessed to achieve more than they ever thought possible.

Our group of amazing women who attended the 2018 Women in Leadership Retreat in Eastman, QC.

SuccessFinder & Optimum Talent teams with our inspiring speakers, Geneviève Fortier and Mylène Paquette. 


Click here for more information on our Women in Leadership program or contact us at:


Introducing the New SuccessFinder Ladder of Leadership


February 6, 2018 at 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM ET

Click Here to Register

“Best Behaved” Blogs in 2017: Top 5 Talent Management Ideas

5 Best Behaved Blogs of 2017

We’re all about behavioral DNA here at SuccessFinder, so we’ve packaged up the best-behaved blogs of the year (most popular too) as a holiday gift for our readers.

Whether you are just exploring the potential of predictive career success with behavioral assessment, or you’ve been using it in your organization to transform your talent management strategies, we think these insiders’ ideas are worth a read!

#1. How to Predict Passionate Employees: Pair People with Their Best-Fit Jobs

Point of view from Successfinder founder, Dr. Larry Cash.

“Only employees exceptionally suited for what they do, coupled with an intense love of what they do, produce exceptional results.

An exceptional candidate screening and selection process could be one of your most crucial processes for the overall success of your organization. Since the highest performers deliver 4X the value of others in the same role, there is a lot riding on making high stakes hiring evaluations for both short and long-term impact.

This blog highlights the SuccessFinder Assessment Platform, premised on nearly 40 years of research that consistently concludes that once screened for requisite skills, knowledge, experience, the “right behavior” is the only true driver behind best fit candidate selection.

  • Click HERE to see full article.
  • Bonus: click HERE to see our new video explaining the idea behind behavioral DNA


#2. 99% of HR Leaders Want to Improve Hiring with Behavioral Insights

 Highlights from November 2017 SuccessFinder poll about critical issues in hiring and development

In a SuccessFinder poll of 230 HR leaders, it was nearly unanimous that understanding candidate behavior is an important or extremely important factor in optimizing hiring decisions.

North America’s tight labor market with record lows in unemployment and record highs in open jobs going unfilled, makes it doubly challenging to find the best employee for the job. According to staffing firm Robert Half International, one concession companies are grappling with is that they may need to settle on candidates without all the requisite skills; in fact maybe only 70-75% of the skills on a job description. Therefore, in this market, in particular, behavior is quickly becoming the trump card.

Check out what else your peers are thinking about tapping behavior in their hiring and development programs.

  • Click HERE to see full article.
  • Bonus: click HERE for a replay of the webinar on Best Fit Hiring that started this dialogue


#3. Women in Leadership: Take Risks and Play to Win

Personal perspective from Genevieve, Fortier, SuccessFinder customer and former SVP of HR and Public Affairs at McKesson; also an active board member and development coach/mentor.

Sadly, even women in the most senior business roles, like blog author, Genevieve Fortier, agree with the recent SuccessFinder “Mission Imposter” research results showing that even at the CEO level, women are as competent, but clearly not as confident as their male peers.

Her blog looks at the history that contributed to this situation, but also the evolution in play today that is changing how women and men look at the workplace and their roles in leading to new perspectives on meaningful work and engaged teams.

She highlights as well, her own experience in bringing about that organizational transformation that will empower a different mix of board and c-suite leaders as well as a better balance between men and women at the top of the business hierarchy.

  • Click HERE to see full article.
  • Bonus: check out the McKesson Case Study HERE.


#4. CEO Perspective: Creating an Inclusive Leadership Culture

SuccessFinder CEO Ron Dahms on building a culture that stymies Imposter Syndrome practices.

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.

Ron Dahms, CEO at SuccessFinder, experienced personally—and through the journeys of his clients—how leadership diversity can stimulate a vibrant breadth of perspective. His blog highlights three ways to create meaningful and impactful leadership team diversity:

  1. Adapt your strategies on hiring and team engagement
  2. Use data to connect people to the best roles — and teams
  3. Reinforce culture with mentoring and continual feedback
  • Click HERE to see full article.
  • Bonus: for a copy of the CEO “Mission Imposter” research, click HERE

5. The New Leadership Imperative: Do You Have What it Takes to Perform?

SuccessFinder partner, Paul Frederick who counsels boards on top executive placement and succession, shares insights on agile leadership behaviors required in today’s businesses.

Many of today’s corporate leaders have been grooming for executive positions for a few decades. They’ve developed strength in business acumen, depth, and breadth of skill sets and firsthand experience in finding and building teams.

But today’s top brass will not succeed with the strength of experience alone. In order to competently and confidently make timely high-risk decisions that drive business performance, their jobs—like high-wire performers—require that they are not just strong, but that they have the behavioral leadership performance competencies that empower them to also be extremely agile.

This blog outlines the business drivers behind the agile performance requirements and also spotlights the eight most critical behaviors for high performing executives.

  • Click HERE to see full article.
  • Bonus: click HERE to check out the Frederick’s and Associates case study with SuccessFinder.


One more thing: why not celebrate the season of giving and share any or all of these insights with anyone in your network looking for better talent tools?!

From all of us to each of you: wishing you an insightful 2018!



About the Author: Lisa Hartley is Chief Marketing Officer at SuccessFinder, where she leverages nearly two decades of expertise in Human Capital Management software with companies including SuccessFactors, Taleo and PeopleSoft.


99% of HR Leaders Want to Tip the Hiring Scales with Behavioral Insights

Tipping the hiring scales with behavioral insight

In a SuccessFinder poll of 230 HR leaders last week, it was nearly unanimous that understanding candidate behavior is an important or extremely important factor in optimizing hiring decisions.

North America’s tight labor market with record lows in unemployment and record highs in open jobs going unfilled, makes it doubly challenging to find the best employee for the job. And HR leaders know that the highest performers can outpace can their peers in productivity by up to 400%.

According to staffing firm Robert Half International, one concession companies are grappling with is that they may need to settle on candidates without all the requisite skills; in fact maybe only 70-75% of the skills on a job description. Therefore, in this market in particular, behavior is quickly becoming the trump card.

The reasoning: by pairing insight on what a candidate has done with HOW they go about doing it, companies can get a better predictor on the cultural and job fit based how their behaviors stack up against current high performers in those roles. With a “match” in behavioral profile, companies get a much more predictable view on the potential for success — or failure — in their organization.

Here are the stats surfaced in SuccessFinder’s interactive Best Fit Hiring webinar on Tuesday, November 7th with more than 230 participants in HR and organizational development leadership roles. How do these responses compare to your organization’s bet fit hiring? Take a look:

  • 78% report that they could be doing a better job of developing and keeping high performers.
  • 99% say that candidate behavior is important or extremely important in their selection process
    • 45% use observations during the interview or from references to gauge behavior
    • 12% admit they really don’t have a predictable way to understand behavior
    • And only 12% use tools to get a comprehensive insight on career-related behaviors of their people.

This all points to a gap between aspiration and reality when it comes to getting the very best hiring and promotion options in a tight labor market. The good news: HR leaders recognize the need for a different “lever” in what is far too often decision-making based on a gut check.

As webinar presenter and SuccessFinder customer, Frank Monteleone, the head of HR at Rexall Pharmacy, LTD shared: SuccessFinder is the only tool for predicting both career success and career satisfaction.

And the proof is in the numbers. In the high churn retail pharmacy sector, Rexall has cut employee churn in half. In fact, only 6% of all employees hired using results of a SuccessFinder assessment have left the organization.

Want to learn more about how Rexall is beating the tight job market and finding/promoting the hightest performers? Check out these resources:


Or reach out to us anytime at


Happy hiring!

New Q4 SuccessFinder Competency Classes

Class of Certified SuccessFinder Practitioners!

Completing this one-day class will certify you to use SuccessFinder’s competency based solutions for employee selection, development and career management.

This class is focused on the SuccessFinder competency model. It can also be tailored to the competencies most relevant to your group or organization. At the end of the training, class attendees will be certified on the 26 SuccessFinder competencies as well as SuccessFinder’s new Ladder of Leadership model of key competencies to succeed in, and advance through Manager, Executive and CEO level roles.

Dates for public classes:

Montreal: Dec 1, 2017
Toronto: January 26,  2018

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Telephone Montreal : 514.687.2272​
Telephone Toronto : 416.590.9852​​
Toll Free : 844.932.3231

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