Posts Tagged ‘Engagement’

How many people have Inspirational Leadership?

November 26th, 2015

Within Zircon, we take a strong, applied approach to talent management and leadership development. Our recent research indicated a strong appreciation for the qualities commonly associated with an Inspirational Leader.  However, research linking the supply with the demand of such a quality is somewhat limited. While many recognise the potential value of those characteristics thought typical of truly inspirational leaders, many leaders recognise that some characteristics are elusive and difficult to achieve. » Read more: How many people have Inspirational Leadership?

What are the differences between Inspirational Leadership & Executive Presence?

November 23rd, 2015

At Zircon, we place a strong emphasis on trying to determine exactly what constitutes effective and energising styles of leadership. Two concepts in particular are often linked to high potential, and highly talented performers with leadership; Inspirational Leadership and Executive Presence. Whilst many claim to recognise each of these broad characteristics when they see them, the differences between them and the possible overlap remains somewhat uncertain. » Read more: What are the differences between Inspirational Leadership & Executive Presence?

Fantastic Summer Internship at Zircon and Talent Gene

November 19th, 2015

Rapidly approaching the end of my MSc. course, I decided that I wanted to gain some hands-on experience of Occupational Psychology in practice before finally entering the ‘real world’. I came across the advert for Zircon’s internship positions on the ABP website, and thought it sounded like a fantastic opportunity. » Read more: Fantastic Summer Internship at Zircon and Talent Gene

What is Executive Presence? Why is it Important?

November 16th, 2015

Here at Zircon, we recognise that truly talented and influential leaders possess a range of qualities and attributes; many of which are easily defined, however others are difficult to grasp and even more challenging to describe in a meaningful sense. Executive Presence is rapidly becoming one of the most popular concepts within Business Psychology and Talent Management as a whole. It has be argued that Executive Presence is a highly beneficial attribute within business; one that is sought after by many organisations. The majority of business leaders can recognise when their fellow leaders possess Executive Presence, however, the majority of research hints that this is a tacit strength; one that is difficult to define or describe clearly, and therefore one that has typically been described in a very broad manner. » Read more: What is Executive Presence? Why is it Important?

The Apprentice: candidate suffers from the halo and horns effect

November 5th, 2015

 The Halo and horns effect

On BBC One’s The Apprentice last night, team leader Charleine Wain fell victim to something many of us can experience in business: the halo and horns effect.

After being appointed to lead her team in the task of writing, publishing and selling an original children’s book, one of Charleine’s very first decisions was to make fellow candidate Richard Woods sub-team leader.

Charleine made this decision for very negative reasons: rather than appointing Richard as her deputy for his strengths, she did it as a means of controlling him.

“Richard thinks he is better than everyone else,” said Charleine when justifying the decision to camera.

“The reason I have made Richard sub-team leader is because I know Richard is really hard to control, and if he didn’t feel in power he would throw his toys out of the pram.”

Charleine made sure Richard didn’t have any real power by appointing fellow candidate David Stevenson to report back to her with all of the market research findings from Richard’s sub-team.

Charleine was suffering from a common ailment that can prove fatal to business success – the halo and horns effect.

This effect is a cognitive bias that assumes if someone is “good” or “bad” on a particular characteristic or activity, then they will be “good” or “bad” at everything else.

For example, during interviews candidates who are well-presented and well-spoken are often rated more highly on all assessment criteria than those who are not.

– Click here to view more posts on the current series of The Apprentice – 

Charleine clearly saw something bad in Richard and allowed the horns effect to cloud her judgement when managing him.

This proved particularly disastrous when deciding which three members of her team should pitch their book to major bookshop Foyles.

Charleine didn’t include Richard in the pitch and the team failed miserably, recording zero sales (the opposing team, led by candidate Sam Curry, managed to successfully sell 50 books to Waterstones).

Businessman Claude Littner, acting as advisor to Lord Alan Sugar in this series of The Apprentice, didn’t mince his words: “You had the wrong team selling to hard-nosed buyers.”

Likewise Alan Sugar was less than impressed by Charleine’s poor judgement: “You may have a disagreement with someone like Richard but I think one thing he has demonstrated in the last few weeks is that he can sell, and you needed to take your strongest pitchers to the most professional people you were pitching to, and you didn’t. Bad management decision I think.”

We are all human, and we may all at times have to work with people that rub us up the wrong way – or, indeed, in the case of the halo effect be so blinded by someone’s strengths that we fail to see their flaws.

The only way we can avoid the halo effect and horns effect when managing people is to make sure to make sure we have a clear understanding of where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

This can be done through an objective process such as the Talent Gene Unique Strengths questionnaire. This questionnaire has been informed by our over 20 years of working with businesses to develop their talent, and helps employees to identify their core seven strengths from a list of 30.

  • Dr Amanda Potter is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist, and the CEO of Zircon Management Consulting and Talent Gene.


Photo supplied by

The Apprentice: proving enthusiasm is no match for competence

October 29th, 2015

zircon apprentice cat

Last night’s episode of the BBC show illustrated why it is critical to assess candidates, and not simply trust their enthusiasm.

Spoiler warning: if you don’t want to know who was fired from The Apprentice last night, look away now.

Comedian W.C. Fields famously said: “Never work with animals or children.”

In last night’s episode of The Apprentice, the challenge of selling products at a pet show proved to be the undoing of candidate Ruth Whiteley.

Despite working in sales training, Ruth failed to sell a single cat tower during a whole day of exhibiting at ExCel in London.

Ruth was fired because she confused Enthusiasm for Competence. She confidently engaged potential customers and chatted to them enthusiastically about the cat towers but was unable to convert a single discussion into a sale.

In interviews, very often we select the extrovert who is confident and enthusiastic because we confuse enthusiasm for competence.

This is why, like Alan Sugar, you should use exercises rather than interviews to assess candidates. In interviews it is difficult to differentiate between the two.

In an exercise, the evidence is clear to observe and record and therefore assess.

There are four types of evidence that can be gained from assessment exercises. In order of validity (the highest is first and is the preferred approach), they are:

  • Observed – exercises (roleplays, presentations, tasks)
  • Tests (online tests)
  • Reported (interviews – where a person reports who they are and how they interact)
  • Inferred (questionnaires – where you infer from the questionnaire how a person will be)

The lesson is to always make sure you include observed exercises as part of your assessment process e.g. a sales task, role play or presentation.

Just make sure it is not a group exercise. As I have written before, this is the main area where The Apprentice’s selection process falls down.

  • Dr Amanda Potter is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist, and the CEO of Zircon Management Consulting and Talent Gene.

The Three Predictors of Employability

October 22nd, 2015

More than 950,000 young people between the ages of 18 and 24 are unemployed in the UK today and the jobless rate is 3.74 times the adult rate (IPPR, 2014). Psychological research often focuses on young people’s lack of motivation and preparation and the long transitions between education and work as the cause for this however what the research fails to consider is how few entry-level jobs are offered to young people. » Read more: The Three Predictors of Employability

Why The Apprentice is doing it all wrong

October 21st, 2015

paris - the apprentice

While it might make good TV, the BBC show’s group assessment is a deeply flawed way of determining a candidate’s talent and potential.

» Read more: Why The Apprentice is doing it all wrong

The Apprentice: how three candidates turn strengths into weaknesses

October 16th, 2015


Last night’s episode of The Apprentice again illustrated how a candidate’s strengths can rapidly turn into weakness when they overplay them.

Strengths, also known as energisers, are the things that we do well and find motivating and energising.

We use our strengths to achieve our objectives, sometimes without even realising that we are using them.

However, under pressure we can overuse our strengths.

Like the first episode on Wednesday, the second instalment of BBC One’s The Apprentice last night – in which the teams had to brand and market a shampoo containing cactus extract – served up some great examples of candidates overplaying their strengths. » Read more: The Apprentice: how three candidates turn strengths into weaknesses

The Apprentice: proving quick decisions aren’t always the best

October 15th, 2015

The Apprentice - fish

Decision-making is a complex process, where speed is just one of many important factors at play.

Last night BBC One’s hit show The Apprentice returned to our screens for its eleventh series.

The latest group of 18 ambitious young businessmen and businesswomen appeared in front of Lord Alan Sugar, all hoping to win the show and become his future business partner. » Read more: The Apprentice: proving quick decisions aren’t always the best