How to Enjoy More Good Luck in 2013

May the luck o’ the Irish be with you this St. Paddy’s Day!

While I’ve been known to rely on luck now and then (especially when it comes to weather and traveling), I prefer the maxim that you make your own luck.

Some say good luck comes from hard work and preparation – this is probably the better management principle, whether you’re Irish or not!

Many management decisions occur in situations where we don’t enjoy a lot of certainty.  This is often the case with decisions about people.  Predictive Index® can help tilt the odds of luck in your direction by improving the probability that you’re going to make the right call on that new hire, promotion or coaching strategy.

ADVISA’s founder, Bob Wilson, has said that Predictive Index is all about probabilities.  The probability that a person is going to act a certain way can be gleaned from their Predictive Index pattern.   And our ability to predict their behavior is even greater the wider their pattern (or for those of you who paid special attention during the Predictive Index Management Workshop™ – the larger the sigma.)

If a vast majority of successful incumbents in a job have a particular high or low drive, as measured by Predictive Index, how lucky do you have to be to find a successful employee in that same role with a different pattern?

Any time you make a decision about people without a thorough consideration of the insights Predictive Index provides, you are basically counting on your judgment and luck outweighing rigorous analysis and planning.

If the old saying  “it is better to be lucky than good” holds true for you, perhaps you’ll still find that pot o’ gold the leprechauns hold so dear – but I wouldn’t bet on it!

Strength of Personality Key to Outside Sales Success

This is an occasional series describing (anonymously) a real challenge faced by one of my PI® clients in Ohio & Michigan and my recommendation to them.

Please let me know what topics you’d like to see included in this ADVISA series.

Scenario: A sales manager for an electric motor manufacturer has two outside salespeople with similar PI patterns but vastly different sales results.

PI® Patterns

Successful Salesperson – Persuasive Sales/Management Reference Pattern, Very High B, Very Low C, Moderately High A, Moderately Low D

Unsuccessful Salesperson – Persuasive Sales/Management Reference Pattern, High B, Low C, High A, Low D (A & D both about 1 tick-mark from the Norm)

The Issue: The sales manager had used Predictive Index as a pre-employment assessment to select these two salespeople. The PRO for the position is a Persuasive Sales/Management Reference Pattern and both salespeople match this pattern. Why is one person successful and the other is not?

PI® Analysis and Recommendation: While both salespeople have PIs that match the general pattern of a Persuasive Reference Pattern (Highest B, Lowest C, High A, Low D) there is an important difference between the two PIs that could explain the performance difference. The difference has to do with the “Sigma” or spread of the two PIs.

The successful salesperson has a much wider spread to his pattern. His B Drive is Very High (over one Sigma high) and his C Drive is Very Low (over one Sigma low). In addition, the spread between his High A & Low D (a measure of comfort with risk in decision making that is linked to sales-closing performance) is several times wider than his unsuccessful colleague.

The stronger measures on these PI factors means the successful salesperson feels the key drives needed for this position more intensely and should exhibit more-impactful behaviors related to the job. The sales environment for these outside salespeople is very demanding – strong competitors constantly threatened to undercut them and their industrial customers have very demanding purchasers. In the face of these pressures, the stronger personality performs more effectively.

I recommended they include drive strength as a key element in their future decisions on assignments.

How Social Media Alters Human Interaction

In my work with clients in Ohio and Michigan I’ve found that rapidly changing methods of communication require some rethinking about how Predictive Index® tendencies impact choices for personal interaction.

Five years ago it was safe to say that High B’s preferred face-to-face or at least verbal interactions and Low B’s tended to choose more formal, written communication (including email). Even then, the development of “instant messaging” and texting seemed to create a new mid-point between those two ends of the interaction continuum. Now, with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others opening up new modes of interaction any models that worked earlier are too simplistic.

For the purpose of brevity I will refer to all these new tools as “social media.”

This analysis is complicated by other important factors that drive social media use. Younger people who grew up using instant messaging or texting and the earliest versions of social media have a better understanding of these tools’ value and power. Beyond this generation gap, there are geographic and business sectors that trend higher on use. You’re more likely to see social media used in major metro areas and highly dynamic market sectors (e.g. information technology, marketing services) or businesses with a high local & social “touch” (e.g. real estate, restaurants).

Achieving organizational alignment on use of social media is giong to be increasingly important. Here are some thoughts on how various Predictive Index (PI®) Factors relate to social media:

Low A – Disliking conflict, Low A’s may prefer to be observers in a social media environment. A beneficial element of social media is that they can feel part of a team or community simply by monitoring others’ communication

High A – The competitive, aggressive, results-oriented High A will use social media as a utilitarian tool for achieving goals. A prerequisite, of course, is that the person understands and sees how this tool can be used to make a difference – which is more likely with younger people. Beyond the impact of a person’s age the High A will leverage social media if they compete in a business, region or demographic segment where social media drives in-market change.

Low B – With a preference for black & white data, facts and logic the Low B will find much to like with social media. The heart of most interactions is still text-driven and allows thought before any response – ideal elements for Low B’s. Once you are comfortable with the technology, social media allows for great control over interactions, providing more structure than face-to-face gatherings. Extremely fast-moving digital dialogues may still overwhelm a Low B, however, and they may not share in the “fun” of videos or other highly social activities.

High B – With interactivity, pictures, videos, opportunities for high-profile “spotlights” and ever-expanding “friends” lists, social media feeds the High B’s need for social interaction. The “new news” and fun built into social media seems like “party central.” The technological interface required to join the fun is a barrier and High B’s can, of course, meet their social needs without crossing that barrier – so some will not. For people who grew up with the technology or are in a high-adoption business or region it simply becomes another social venue in which to work their interpersonal magic.

Low C – Frenetic social media action satisfies Low C’s. Popular tools run many Twitter streams for a multi-tasking fit to Low C sense of urgency. Prior two sentences fit within Twitter’s 140 character limit – ‘nuff said! Movin’ on!

High C – The primary intersection of High C needs and social media has to do with building a sense of community and affiliation. Group discussions, picture albums, online communities, personal updates – all provide a way to staying connected with a group to which the High C feels a wanted sense of “belonging.” Other than this sense of community, however, much of social media is going to seem unpredictable and chaotic, lacking the step-by-step coherence a High C prefers.

Low D – Elements of Social Media Low D’s will like:

  • New and rapidly evolving – the “rules” are rewritten constantly
  • Information is delivered in short bursts
  • You can customize and prioritize content to your preference

High D – The cautious approach of High D’s to work the “right way” is an issue when any social media “rules” change so fast there is no consensus on what constitutes the “right way.” Within the context of such risk aversion, however, there is still much that a High D can find to like. First and foremost is the explosion of information allowing endless research – this feeds the High D need for detail and can lead to greater certainty in many activities. Another fact is that, chaotic appearances aside, social media exist within a man-made structure and order – once that structure is understood a High D then has a roadmap for excellence.

Structured Planning to Initiate Recognition Program

This is an occasional series describing (anonymously) a real challenge faced by one of my ADVISA clients in Ohio and Michigan and my recommendation to them based on analysis and understanding of PI®. Please let me know what topics you’d like to see included in this series.

- Paul

Structured Planning to Initiate Recognition Program

Scenario: The President of a financial service firm seeks to turn around people’s attitude in her firm. She is interested in using every tool available for improving employee morale

PI Patterns

President – She is similar to a Control Reference Pattern, although with a Lowest B (Highest D, Low B & C, High A)

Typical Employee Reporting to President – Craftsman Reference Pattern (Highest C & D, Lowest B, Low A)

The Issue: The President wants to use face-to-face recognition that will connect with each employee’s motivating needs and drives. She believes this an effective approach to changing attitudes and that such conversations can be done quickly without additional expense. She is not comfortable with the idea of simply talking to people without some structured approach to identify the appropriate action.

PI® Analysis and Recommendation: The President’s hesitation is natural for somebody with her PI Pattern – she is a Highest D who wants to know the “right” way to do things and a Lowest B who is more comfortable with logic, facts and data than emotions and feelings.

The typical employee pattern differs from the President in that most employees are Low A and High C. What is critical with one-on-one recognition, however, is crafting an interaction that fits EACH INDIVIDUAL’s motivating needs. This is best done by focusing on each person’s single strongest need – something that a structured approach using personality assessments allows.

To address the President’s need for structure we created a table of all her key employees’ strongest PI drive. As part of the table we identified the type of recognition appropriate for each high drive (e.g. “Recognition for Error-Free Work” with Highest D individuals) and noted a list of activities in her firm that would tie into that type of recognition. We then cross-referenced this with a weekly calendar she could use as a checklist to make sure she touched each of her people at least once per week.

This type of simple task-management approach is often very useful to generate a real change in behavior. Turning the challenge of one-on-one recognition into just another to-do item simplified this activity for the President.

Results: My client followed the program through the first two cycles of employee interactions. After this point the checklist no longer became necessary as she had effectively learned how to adopt this new behavior and make the tool of in-person recognition work for her team. Happily, my client reported that attitudes began to improve. While she couldn’t take all the credit as other factors supporting a positive change occurred at the same time she still felt good about her contribution to the turnaround.

Biz Strategy & the Civil War: Organizational Planning

In honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War’s beginning this month I am continuing my blog series on business lessons from the Civil War.

People play a key role in any strategic initiative. In the business world, achieving alignment of purpose within a leadership team is a prerequisite for success. In addition, identifying leaders who aggressively take the initiative to seize opportunities can make all the difference. These organizational planning challenges exist outside of business, too, and are exemplified in some of the key lessons of the Civil War.

The most-significant organizational challenges in the Civil War involved the two competing Presidents and their decisions regarding military leadership – Abraham Lincoln for the US and Jefferson Davis for the Confederate States of America (CSA).







The two Presidents both faced key challenges regarding delegation of authority and personnel selection – their different approaches contributed to the eventual result of the war.

Delegating Authority

Both Lincoln and Davis ended the war with an overall commander overseeing all their ground forces. This result acknowledged that the complexity of managing armies comprised of hundreds of thousands of men spread out over half of a continent was too much for a leader who also held the political responsibility as President.

Davis only made this choice (General Robert E. Lee) when it was far too late, however, just months before the war ended. If Davis had put Lee in this position in late 1862, for example, different strategies might have been employed that would have altered the course of the war. Davis’ reluctance to make this move was probably due in part to his extensive military experience – a graduate of West Point he held the Secretary of War position in the Buchanan Presidential administration.

Lincoln, with much less military training than Davis, was always looking for an overall military commander who could lead effectively. It was not till he put General U.S. Grant in that position in late 1863, however, that Lincoln had an overall commander who shared his strategic vision for an aggressive prosecution of the offensive war needed to defeat the Confederacy.

Lincoln’s mistakes in his search for an effective #2 also had more dramatic negative effects than Davis’ approach. In late 1861 Lincoln made General George B. McClellan the overall commander. McClellan did not agree with Lincoln’s desire for an aggressive strategy and events eventually led to McClellan being removed from this position just a few months later in early 1862 – Lincoln then took a more direct role in military leadership – with poor results. Lincoln participated in decisions that played directly into Lee’s hands as CSA commander in Virginia. Lee’s maneuvers confused Lincoln and his advisors leading directly to poor force deployments that contributed to massive Confederate victories in The Seven Days and Second Bull Run.

Personnel Selection

Lincoln’s desperate search for leaders who could defeat the well-led CSA forces created a merry-go-round of new and different commanders – particularly in the eastern Army of the Potomac. The strength of Lincoln’s approach, however, is that he promoted people based on merit (e.g. military success) and did not let other considerations derail his focus on success.

Davis, on the other hand, allowed both personal bias and claims of seniority to play a significant role in his leadership choices. Davis’ bias in favor of General Braxton Bragg kept the latter commander in place despite humiliating withdrawals after inconclusive battles at Perryville in Kentucky and Murfreesboro in Tennessee. Bragg eventually lost Chattanooga and Davis still kept him in place until, with the aid of General Longstreet’s Virginia forces, he won the most-significant CSA victory in the west at Chickamauga. Bragg followed up this victory with the siege of Chattanooga that Grant broke in 1862 despite Bragg’s entrenchments on commanding heights overlooking the city. Facing a near mutiny of Bragg’s subordinates, Davis finally replaced him with General Joe Johnston.

If Davis had a bias in favor of Bragg that impaired his judgment he also held a dislike of Joe Johnston that may have led to disastrous results. In 1864, as US General Tecumseh Sherman advanced toward Atlanta Johnston fell back to the outskirts of that city. Johnston’s withdrawal could be seen as a skillful maneuver that preserved his army’s strength while denying Sherman a decisive victory. Davis chose to see it as failure and replaced Johnston with Texan John Hood whose aggressive and unsuccessful attacks first led to the loss of Atlanta then the destruction of his Army in Tennessee at Franklin and Nashville.

The fall of Atlanta in September, 1864, turned the tide of US Presidential electoral sentiment in favor of Lincoln’s re-election. If Atlanta had remained in Confederate hands it is conceivable that Lincoln might have lost to Democrat George G. McClellan and the course of the war would have change dramatically.

As for deference to seniority, rather than merit, this theme runs throughout Davis’ personnel choices and was a constant cause of friction among his competing leaders.

What are the implications of these lessons for organizational planning in business? Effective delegation is of course key and success in this skill requires the ability to balance intense focus on results and strategic vision with motivation and guidance of subordinates. Personnel selection is also a key skill and time invested for success in these decisions pays greater dividends than almost any other area. Creating a team that shares a strategic vision for success and possesses demonstrated merit necessary to implement the strategy must be a first priority.

Communicating Effectively with an Impatient Boss

This is an occasional series describing (anonymously) a real challenge faced by one of my ADVISA clients in Ohio or Michigan and my recommendation to them based on analysis and understanding of PI®. Please let me know what topics you’d like to see included in this series.

- Paul

Communicating Effectively with an Impatient Boss

Scenario: A large service firm has multiple divisions, each of which operates on their own and is measured by their individual financial performance. My contact at the company asked me to coach one of the Division’s Controllers regarding her support for the VP responsible for the Division’s results.

 PI Patterns

Divisional VP



Divisional Controller



The Issue: The Controller said she had difficulty in her face-to-face encounters with the VP. She said the VP interrupted her frequently, seemed unwilling to listen and now seemed not to respect her contributions.

PI® Analysis and Recommendation: These are two very different Predictive Index® (PI®) patterns. Beginning with the strongest PI® Drives for each person – the Controller is a Highest C with a very strong position (almost two Sigmas high) while the VP is an extremely Low, and Lowest, C.

When two people are at such opposite ends of the C Drive spectrum their natural behaviors do not create a good basis for solid communication. In this scenario I was only coaching the Controller so my recommendations focused solely on how she could adjust to the VP’s tendencies.

I first explained the very different perspectives that people with such different personalities usually have about communication. As a Highest C, the Controller believes every story starts at the beginning and much of the information leading up to the end is relevant and needs to be conveyed to put the end of the story in proper context – or, put another way, the end of the story can only be understood as it relates to everything that precedes it. As an Extremely Low C, the VP simply wants the end of the story, or, bottom line result as quickly as possible. The reason he interrupts is that he wants the Controller to jump ahead – skipping steps if necessary.

My recommendation for the Controller was to prepare for any interactions with the VP in advance and go through the “story” in her own mind but then note the ending and begin her communication with the VP with that ending.

If and when the VP catches her off guard the Controller should ask for time to research an answer then get back with the VP after she has had time to prepare along the lines described above.

The second strongest difference between the VP and Controller is that the VP is a Highest A (very strong) while the Controller is Lowest A (also very strong in the Low position). I focused on the Controller’s concern that the VP was not respecting her input. I explained that Highest A people are comfortable with conflict and respect people who will stand up for their point of view. The Controller, as a Lowest A, prefers a harmonious team environment and finds conflict unpleasant.

My recommendation for the Controller was to recognize that when the VP challenged her it was not necessarily a sign that he thought she was wrong. Such challenges are often a “test” to determine the level of conviction held by the other person as well as a means to dig into the details to determine the best answer based on available information.

I encouraged her to defend her position at least once after each challenge by the VP – and more if the situation warranted, such as when she had high confidence in her analysis. The more she stood up to the VP the more he would respect her contribution. I suggested she might want to pick a topic on which she thought she had a very strong position to try this new approach for the first time.

Blindness that Affects Us All

Leadership effectiveness requires self-awareness, but don’t take my word for it!

“You cannot lead effectively when you don’t accurately perceive what’s actually going on,” so said Dr. Jay Dial, Clinical Associate Professor of Management & Human Resources at the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University during his 3/28/11 presentation “Perceptual Barriers to Effective Leadership and Communication” at the Breakfast Club put on by the Fisher College.

Our perceptions are shaped by our worldview, which is a set of constraints on what we “see” (or don’t see). This worldview is described by Dr. Dial as “how you wound up being” which is “pretty much set” shortly after one graduates from High School. This issue should be addressed in any leadership and management training.

If you want to experience this blindness – take this short test.

Because you are conditioned to look for one thing you will miss – or be “blind” to – other things.

This blindness is a condition of being human. Much of what we “see” is conditioned by what we expect to see and there is a physical reason for this – 80% of the fibers in our brain that connect to the visual cortex actually come from areas governing memory. Some researchers have found that up to 90% of visual perception comes from memory.

Key steps identified by Dr. Dial for leaders to overcome this blindness are:

1. Identify and be willing to deal with the personal constraints embedded in the way you wound up being

2. Discover the fixed ways in which you compensate for constraints and how they impact your opportunity for actions

3. Exercise leadership effectively by liberating yourself from these constraints

In my work as an ADVISA consultant in Ohio and Michigan dealing with leadership issues my clients value my approach to defining self awareness using a variety of tools. This absolutely is a fundamental element of leadership effectiveness. It is a condition of being human that you can only see the world with your own eyes and your unique perspective is not truly shared by any other individual.

Predictive Index® gives us a unique ability, however, to step outside of our own experience and better understand the motivations and drives of others.

Dr. Dial emphasizes, however, that you can CHOOSE to create an empowering context to your perception and this context is decisive.

One of his techniques that he encourages is to use the words “thank you” instead of “I know” when people point out things of which you are already aware. Focusing on what you “know” is one of the key blinders effecting perception. Other filters include:

  • Do I Agree or Disagree?
  • Do you respect or disrespect me?
  • It’s not my fault

Dr. Dial tells a good story about this last filter. A marketing team conducting multiple direct-mail campaigns mistakenly mails the exact same offer to the same people so they get two identical pieces of direct mail. Rather than seeking to place blame for the error the leaders decided to see what they might learn and it turns out response was higher for this sample. They then deliberately sent three identical pieces to people and response increased again!

Another form of blindness involves “change blindness” – starting at about the 1:20 mark of this video is a neat case study for this effect that Dr. Dial shared.

When you’re 100% sure about something, take a moment to think about what you’re missing, keep an open mind and consider how your own worldview shapes your perception, doing so will make you a better leader. If you are in charge of leadership training and development we can show you how personality assessments will help make this happen.

Change Management Strategies for Technology Adoption

Increasingly-rapid change cycles in the world of information technology require significant agility from organizational leaders.

Recognition of this reality has penetrated mainstream business even at the consumer level, as evidenced by the new “Buy Back” program from retailer Best Buy. The deadly competitive effects of slow response have recently been evidenced by the bankruptcy of book retailer Borders.

Driving technology adoption in an organization creates unique change management challenges as highlighted in this entry on “” – which provides some interesting graphical devices to consider in the technology adoption challenge.

My ADVISA clients in Ohio & Michigan can use Predictive Index® to assist in targeting early adopters in their organization. Characteristics consistent with proactivity, affinity for change, comfort with risk taking and thinking “outside the box” are measurable using Predictive Index®.

Leaders can improve the technology adoption results for their organization by building these concepts into strategic planning methods and change management plans.

Free Webinar – Real-Life Stories about Familiar Leadership Challenges

Join me for a complimentary ADVISA webinar reviewing real-world success stories addressing these familiar challenges:

Leadership Effectiveness

  • When the “Golden Rule” isn’t good enough (Focus on Others’ Needs
  • Communicating with someone who will not listen (Managing Difficult People)
  • Getting a “perfectionist” to delegate work (How to Supervise People)
  • Am I doing a good job? (Working with People Different than You)


  • Herding cats (Executive Team Building)
  • Rules? What rules? (Another type of people challenge)
  • Defusing conflict (Proven processes to overcome conflict

Job Fit

  • “Stop chatting & get to work!” Do you say that too much? (Personality mismatch in a job)
  • Knowing exactly what you want (Defining hiring targets)

Leadership solutions grounded in real-world experiences provide immense value and insight, often comprising the core content of leadership development programs. If you’re responsible for leadership effectiveness, teamwork or matching people to work (job fit) then you won’t want to miss these key lessons from real-world experiences.

The webinar will be repeated on two dates. Please choose one that is most convenient for your schedule:

Wednesday, March 23rd, 10 a.m.


Tuesday, March 29th, 2 p.m.

Managing Workplace Stress

My first recommendation in my work for ADVISA with PI® clients in Ohio and Michigan is to minimize stress on your team by matching people to work using our personality assessment.

It is not unusual to find that people who are in jobs that constantly require them to act in ways that are directly opposite of their personality preferences suffer from stress-related maladies. People who suffer from physical ailments obviously aren’t going to be contributing at the top of their game.

On the other side of the coin, when your work is consistent with what you enjoy most then you will be most-engaged and productive.

A recent study on alternative stress management techniques highlights that attitudes about stress itself can also affect performance. When stress is seen as highly negative it generates a “fight or flight” response – which ADDS TO THE STRESS!

If improving employee morale is your goal then your strategy should include systematic talent management that assesses job requirements and evaluates candidates’ personal qualities. You should also consider how stress is percieved in your organization to minimize the “fight or flight” response.