“Achieving” has an Evil Twin Brother!
Who likes soap operas, science fiction and superheroes? That’s right, this guy! Perhaps one of the most ludicrous and unintentionally funny aspects of any of these genres is the evil twin story line. Not just that the hero unexpectedly has an evil twin but what makes the evil twin really absurd is the presence of a bad mustache or goatee. Does anyone remember Michael Knight’s evil twin Garthe from the Knight Rider series or evil Dr. Spock from Star Trek? Take the hero, slap on a goatee and bam, now he’s a villain despite sharing most of the same traits as the hero.
Like many heroes, personality also has a dark side. Let’s examine Michael Knight for a second. The guy can fight, is pretty good with the ladies, helps the helpless, and was selected to drive the coolest, most advanced car on Earth. Would you say he was an achieving individual? Sure you would and if I asked you to describe achieving you, like most people, would probably say “successful, hardworking, ambitious, intelligent and a go-getter.”
But what of his evil twin who nearly killed him and who drove an equally and awesomely destructive vehicle? Could not the same adjectives apply to him? Just as many heroes have an equally achieving villainous counterpart so too do personality traits have a dark, goateed counter side. Also of an achieving person I could say they might be unscrupulous, manipulative and cunning. Do people not obtain their goals this way also?
Hiring qualified, achieving candidates is a tricky game and while using a personality assessment helps, you can still make mistakes if you don’t know what you’re doing. Often an individual trait that presents positively, such as achieving, can also be extremely negative if you don’t properly probe the candidate during the interview for the extremes of their behaviors. Despite how professionally the candidate appears and how achieving they sound, you’d better mind what lies within.
Let’s do an exercise. Think of the four most achieving people that come to your mind. Three…Two…One…Ready? Perhaps you thought of Lincoln, Edison, Bill Gates, or even Michael Phelps. Why did you not think of Saddam Hussein, Mikhail Kalashnikov (inventor of the AK-47 assault rifle), Bernie Madoff (Ponzi scheme villain), or as much as I hate to say this, Lance Armstrong?
Lincoln was a great leader who ended the Civil War and Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator but both achieved the pinnacle of leadership of their respective countries! Edison achieved greatness by bringing us light and sound! On the other hand Kalashnikov achieved renown by developing the most lethal weapon, in terms of total lives taken, the world has so far seen. Bill Gates and Bernie Madoff both achieved billionaire status. But while Gates did so through his software creations, Madoff became rich through ripping people off. Phelps is the most decorated Olympian ever and Armstrong won more Tour de France titles than any other rider. Unfortunately though Armstrong’s greatness apparently came through unscrupulous methods.
Now do you get the point? Two roads, the high road and the low road, to achievement exist and you can’t always tell which road your candidates will take until after they join your team. Despite the candidate’s many achievements listed on their resume and the professional way they carry themselves how will you decide who to onboard? Properly used, a personality assessment can be a useful weapon in your ongoing battle against your competitors, especially if you decide to choose someone who is ruthless, merciless and cunning. Better perhaps they work for you than for them! Just tell them to first shave the goatee!
On a side note, if you do decide to hire both Superman and Lex Luthor, culturally speaking they aren’t going to get along and one of them is going to leave. Then you’re going to have to pay someone a lot of money to find a new superhero or arch villain for your organization.