I hope not.  Last year SACS undertook a major study into the personality characteristics that predict a tendency to seek power.  We assessed the tendency to seek power with the Schwartz Portrait Values Questionnaire, probably the most researched and validated values measure available at the moment.  We measured personality with the HEXACO personality inventory, probably the most practically useful personality measure in current existence, due to its ability to predict negative behaviours in prospective hires.

In the diagram below you will see what we found.  You will see that we have personality characteristics lined up on the left hand side of the diagram and the characteristic of power seeking in the middle.  We are using a statistical method to answer the question of whether personality can predict the tendency to seek power.

In the section headed “Adjusted R Square” you will see the number 0.536.  This means that we are able to predict power seeking behaviour with around 54% accuracy if we know the person’s personality.  That may not sound like much until you realise that the average job interview is about 12% accurate and reference checks are about 7% accurate in predicting job performance.  So, personality is an extremely accurate predictor of power seeking behaviour.

In the bottom right hand corner you have the best individual predictors of power seeking behaviour.  You will see that:

  • Greed Avoidance is the best predictor of power seeking behaviour. The negative beta weight means that low Greed Avoidance means high power seeking.  In other words, power seekers tend to be greedy.
  • The second best is Altruism. There is also a negative beta weight here, so it means that power seeker tend to be the opposite of Altruistic – i.e. not concerned about the wellbeing of other people.
  • The third is Modesty. Once more the beta weight is negative, so power seekers tend to be arrogant.
  • The fourth and fifth results suggest that power seekers can tend to be inflexible and insincere.

I have mentioned in a previous post that it is way better to hire people who seek outcomes rather than power.

Power seekers tend to want to dominate others, whereas outcome seekers want to achieve objectives.

Understand the personalities of people you hire and find out if they are power seekers.

Andrew Marty
Managing Director

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Andrew Marty