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Under pressure - Will your leaders move away, against or towards others when feeling the strain?

Pressure effects everyone regardless of who they are and what job they do. But what happens to people when the pressure is on? How does people’s behaviour change and most importantly, how can we predict it?

There are a number of tools available on the market which can help, but the most well-known is the Hogan Development Survey (HDS). The HDS describes the dark side of personality - qualities that emerge in times of increased strain that can disrupt relationships, damage reputations, and derail peoples' chances of success.

The HDS measures 11 derailers that can be roughly grouped into 3 types of behaviour:

  • Moving away - A tendency to disassociate oneself from issues/people when under strain

  • Moving against - A tendency to act against others and become disruptive

  • Moving towards - A tendency to cling on and look to others for support

But what do these look like in real life and how can they effect the way someone works and interacts with others?

Movers Away

Those who exhibit 'moving away' behaviours when under pressure will exhibit a strong need for self sufficiency and independence; requiring autonomy, and some may simply wish to discard other individuals entirely. They may also feel a need for perfection; becoming hyper focused on getting something exactly right at the detriment of their working relationships or losing track of deadlines or other deliverables.

Movers against

For those who 'move against' others, they may feel a strong need for power; becoming overly dominating and micro-managing others. In extreme cases they may become manipulative, or become blind to the people they are working with seeing them only as tools to be used to achieve an objective. They may also have a strong desire for admiration or praise for their qualities or achievements, seeking reassurance by placing themselves above their peers and colleagues.

Movers towards

Finally those that 'move toward' others may exhibit a strong need approval; wanting to please others and be liked by them. They may look to others to solve issues and make decisions becoming unable to act independently for fear of making the wrong choice or upsetting others.

Regardless of which derailers an individual might exhibit, it's important to remember that these traits are ONLY likely to manifest when the pressure is on and is not a constant state. And if an individual was armed with the knowledge of how their behaviour might change, and were able to take steps to cope with that, what difference might it make? With self-awareness and the right support individuals can learn to understand and recognise how their behaviour may change and develop strategies to cope with pressure and avoid "derailing".

What about your managers and leaders? Are they fit to handle the pressure of leading your organisation through difficult periods? Talk to us about how we can help you find out.

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