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I don't have formal assessment skills or access to a team, but I do have a rough estimate I use to decide if someone is likely to be a transmit only boss in interviews.

I start off by paying attention to what is scripted process and what is not. Than I largely discount the scripted stuff.

I notice who talks, if all of the unscripted stuff is from the highest ranked person, that is a problem flag.

If most of the unscripted stuff is from a person in a role very like the one I am interviewing for, that is a huge plus.

If most of the unscripted stuff is about the person rather than the role or any interest in me, it is a problem flag.

If most of the unscripted stuff is about the role and how the department works and communication and that sort of stuff I know I am likely to be comfortable.

Biggest red flag though? If the highest ranked person keeps using the royal we to talk about the department and does not seem to draw boundaries between what he does and what others do. Which can happen straight up, or most problematically with the gloss of "we are all a team".


Reminds of something I heard Jim Collins say once, that the best piece of advice he ever received was to stop trying to be interesting and start trying to be interested.

Bret Simmons

I find it very easy to identify the "transmit only" colleague, but very difficult to figure out how to get them to a point where they see the impact of their behavior and care enough to want to change. Help!


Have you come across "Hardwired Humans" by Andrew O'Keefe? The comment "being a boss is much like being a high status primate in any group" reminded me very much of the books thesis. Namely, how our basic (primitive) drivers and instincts (e.g. clan connections, hierarchy, status displays etc) drive our behaviour in the workplace.

Naheed Mirza

It is indeed true, when you're in a senior position everyone is aware of every move you make - so if you're not in tune with this yourself, it will cause you problems with how people respond to you.

In the example given, I have to say I'm quite intrigued to know what the influences for the "boss" were - who were his or her role models? What environment had this person worked in previously that had been formative in his/her behavioural style at work...?

I would normally start with the senior person and use psychometric assessment tools to firstly establish just how self aware they are before rolling it out to the wider team. Myers Briggs is one helpful tool that gives insight to people's "type" and preference in how they approach things. I find it works very well in these types of scenarios and helps a team understand their individual and collective strengths and how to get the best from each other.

Keith Ray

Has anyone videotaped a boss and played it back to him/her? Are they still un-aware?

Shawn Callahan

The approach we take is to collect say 100 stories in the organisation about good and bad leadership behaviour. The we take the leadership team and ask them to read through the stories together to identify the good and bad behaviours (there is an equal number of good and bad stories). We also ask them to mark the behaviours they do themselves. In the last workshop we did like this the leadership group identified 76 positive behaviours they did and only 7 negative behaviours they owned up to. When we revealed this result to them they were shocked and realised they were in denial.

Michael Ciszewski

Hi Bob -

I love your process for measuring self-awareness ad listening. It meshes with my experience that the boss' ability to ask questions AND be interested in the answers correlates very highly with the willingness of team members to provide meaningful input to any conversation.

There certainly are times when it is appropriate for the boss to make a declaration. These times are few and far between. And, declaring "I'm always open to your comments and feedback" is a signal that the boss really isn't.


Very interesting study. It definitely speaks to those persons in the "boss" role. What about the effect of persons within a group that interrupt other group members BUT would never interrupt the boss? This may be enabling the leader in the room to monopolize the time (tranmission) which inevitably allows them to "get on a role" and become a chronic interrupter. I personally know that after I'm interrupted on a few occasions, I tend to keep my transmissions to myself.

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