How To (and How Not To) Assess the Integrity of Managers (19 pages)

robert b. kaiser • robert hogan

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HOW TO (AND HOW NOT TO) ASSESS

THE INTEGRITY OF MANAGERS

Robert B. Kaiser

Kaplan DeVries Inc.

Robert Hogan

Hogan Assessment Systems

This article concerns how to evaluate the integrity of managers, with an emphasis on
identifying those with low integrity. After defining our terms, we review leadership
research showing that subordinate perceptions of their manager’s integrity determine
how much they trust their manager which, in turn, influences their attitudes and
performance. Next we evaluate a common method for assessing the integrity of man-
agers. This method defines integrity as a leadership competency and measures it using
coworker ratings of observed ethical behavior. We found that these behavioral ratings
suggested only a negligible proportion of managers may have integrity issues and did not
distinguish high- from low-performing managers. We then propose an alternative method
based on subordinate expectations about the likelihood that their boss would behave uneth-
ically. This method suggested that a much larger proportion of managers may have integrity
issues and did distinguish high- from low-performing managers. Based on these findings, we
offer recommendations for assessing integrity in practice and urge the leadership field to
seriously consider the prevalence and impact of managerial misconduct.

Keywords: integrity, ethics, leadership

Character is personality evaluated; personality is character devaluated.
— Gordon Allport

In her timely book, Bad Leadership, Barbara Kellerman (2004) pointed out the curious tendency of
the field to glorify leaders while overlooking the harm they sometimes do. But as events of the last
decade have made clear— beginning with the criminal acts that toppled Enron and Tyco in 2001
through the unscrupulous behavior leading to the global economic meltdown of 2008 –2009 —some
people in leadership roles behave badly. Beyond the sensational examples, daily organizational life
includes regular episodes of staff abuse, theft, rule bending, and skullduggery perpetrated by people
in positions of authority. These occurrences can be traced to issues of integrity (Padilla, Hogan, &
Kaiser, 2007; Thompson, Grahek, Phillips, & Fay, 2008).

This article concerns how to evaluate the integrity of managers, with an emphasis on identifying

those with low integrity. We begin by defining our terms; we next review research on the role of
integrity in leadership. Then we review some suggestions from personality theory regarding how to
assess integrity. Next, we evaluate a common method for measuring integrity that defines it as a
leadership competency and uses coworker ratings to measure it. We report an empirical study

Robert B. Kaiser, Kaplan DeVries Inc., Greensboro, North Carolina; Robert Hogan, Hogan Assessment Systems,
Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Robert B. Kaiser, Kaplan DeVries Inc.,

1903-G Ashwood Court, Greensboro, NC 27455. E-mail: rkaiser@kaplandevries.com

Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research

© 2010 American Psychological Association

2010, Vol. 62, No. 4, 216 –234

1065-9293/10/$12.00

DOI: 10.1037/a0022265

216

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