vPsychology for Business


We are dedicated to bringing out the best in you and your employees

Volume 4, Number 9                                                                                                       May 2, 2003


Psychology for Business is a free e-mail newsletter written by Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass, Dr. John Weaver, and Dr. Lynda Dahlke, business psychologists and independent consultants. It is published bi-weekly. You’ve received this newsletter because you’ve subscribed to it or it was forwarded to you by a friend or colleague. To subscribe sign up at our website, http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/.  If you wish to cancel your subscription, please see the end of this e-mail for easy instructions

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Honest Success

Paul Kenneth Glass, PhD, Business Psychologist & Executive Coach 

What a strange concept, HONEST SUCCESSRarely are these two concepts joined.  Why?  Because success is often an illusion, that an executive or manager has created in their own mind, based on their perceptions, values and beliefs.  According to a recent survey of corporate executives, nearly 90% equated their success with 1) the money they personally made, 2) the money the company made (which they believed they were responsible for; losses were blamed on others!), or 3) the rise in the value of the company stock.  The remaining 10% defined success by the “quality” of the products or services they provide, factors related to the “contentment” of the workforce (low turnover, cooperative union representatives, etc.) or personal satisfaction in what they do. 

Actually any leader’s real success is based on other’s perceptions of who they are, what they do, how effective they are, their importance (or lack of importance) to the organization, and the money they make.  

So how do we get HONEST SUCCESS?   

Rather than asking yourself how successful you are, you must ask others.  But this is not as easy as it would appear to be.  Honest success means honest feedback.  Who will you ask?  How do you know it is honest feedback, vs. telling you what they know you want to hear?   

When you get honest feedback will you need to understand it, accept it and believe it?  What will you do with the information about your “success”?  Success for leaders in the business world implies doing something positive and measurable that moves a company, workers, and yourself, forward.  Honest success requires that a leader take the necessary risks to challenge the status quo.  Making adequate profits, or being mediocre, resting in the middle of your industry’s pack, is not success.  When you can be creative in pushing changes that others fear, but trust, you will be evaluated as successful.  Your success is defined by proven examples of superior progress, as perceived by others.  Usually it is accompanied by obvious sustained (greater than average) profits and innovations.   


In the recent past we experienced “creative” accounting in order to provide an illusion of success for companies and executives.  Many were acclaimed by the business world to be great leaders.  But dishonesty will always become exposed at some point.  Can these so called “leaders” ever regain their reputation?  It will be difficult for them to ever be perceived of as honestly successful in the future. 

Can you get honest information from a 360-degree feedback process?  Not by 360 degree canned techniques.  With innovation the process can provide honest information, however, innovation is not the norm for 360 degree feedback processes.  A nationally prominent speaker at the Society of Industrial / Organizational Psychologists National Conference (April 2003) provided a vivid example of why the processes (like the 360 degree feedback) often fail to give us HONEST data about our SUCCESS as a leader.  He simply noted that if Saddam Hussein was evaluated by a 360-degree process what would the result have been?  What would happen to any one who did not evaluate him as a successful “angel”?  

Getting honest perspectives from people who either fear the threat of being found out (intentional dishonesty), or who have been hired and positioned to see things exactly as you (unintentional dishonesty), can only present illusionary perspectives regarding your success.  Therefore, they will not be valid indicators of HONEST SUCCESS.  As an illustration of this, consider if we all could make a million dollar bonus by just holding the release of “poor” company earnings until the next quarter, how many would delay the report?  Have we been honestly successful?  What will happen to the perceptions of our success in the next quarter?  Or were we successful just making the extra one million dollars for ourselves? 

Getting a glimpse at what does NOT constitute honest success now leads us to the pressing question again, “how do I get honest information that will help me understand my success, and the success of the company?” 


The PROCESS is essential to determining the true success you are experiencing for yourself and in your business.  HONEST SUCCESS is no more than gathering the information from individuals on the bottom of your organizational chain and using that information to develop the questioning for each tier up in the corporation.  Learning, learning, learning.  Honest success is therefore a dedicated process of learning how successful you are by understanding the perceptions of others as they change and evolve from the farthest from you to the closest to you.  Daily, and perhaps every minute, your actions (or non-actions) are evaluated by those around you.  Honest Success is developing a fluid process of information gathering that avoids the pitfalls of selective listening and information gathering. Some people appear successful by luck but luck is never a factor for honest success.  When will you be able to stop asking questions and re-evaluating your scorecard for honest success?  When you are dead you can stop learning and get the final tally on your honest success.  For what is said then is honest, and truly reveals you honest success.   

Don’t deceive yourself.  Get HONEST SUCCESS the HONEST WAY.  Learn, daily, what others perceive (those who are not going to intentionally or unintentionally give you deceptive information about you), so you can achieve greater honest success.   

The questions you must ask to determine your honest success. 

You have honest success when others say you have it.  It is not evaluated on one particular day. It is assessed continually, and based on what you do, not what you say. 

Don’t be successful in your own mind; be honestly successful.   

Now, do you really have the courage to find out if you have HONEST SUCCESS? 

Did you know that executive coaching is not geographically limited?  Coaching by telephone is effective.  It is also an efficient use of time and resources.  You never need to leave your office to travel, nor do you need to pay travel expenses for your coach. We offer coaching either onsite or by telephone. To find out if coaching is right for you, contact us to schedule a FREE 1/2 hour consultation.  Or request a price sheet to determine the best value for your organization.  Call us at: (262) 789-2728 or email us at mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com.

About the Author

Paul Kenneth Glass, Ph.D. is a Harvard and Northwestern University educated psychologist, and has studied in three countries. He has provided 25 years of consultations to government agencies, public and private businesses, and educational institutions and was a union president and negotiator. His advising to international corporations offers the benefit of multicultural understanding of organizations that is rare in the field of business psychology consulting. Finally, Dr. Glass has experience on the equal opportunity commission of a large suburban city.

Based in Waukesha, WI, Dr. Paul Glass is available for consultation or coaching by phone, e-mail or in person. He may be reached at (262) 544-9918 (office) by e-mail at mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com or:

Paul Kenneth Glass, Ph.D.
Psychology for Business
2717 North Grandview Boulevard, Suite 303
Waukesha, Wisconsin, 53188


10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Coach is now available for download only to readers of PSYCHOLOGY FOR BUSINESS by visiting http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/questions.htm.

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o order your copy of the book, MANAGING DIFFICULT PERSONALITIES IN THE WORKPLACE: A Manager’s Practical Guide, by Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass, send your name, address, number of copies desired and a check made out to Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass for $12 per book (plus $2 shipping per book).  Or order 10 or more copies for $10 per book and $6.95 for shipping (up to 50 copies).  No fluff, this book gets right to the point. Send orders to:

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Psychology for Business
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Waukesha, WI 53188   

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Psychology for Business
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Waukesha, WI 53188

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© Copyright 2002All rights reserved. Paul Kenneth Glass. Distribution rights: The above material is copyrighted, but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. If you would like to reprint part of this newsletter please contact me at mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com to make arrangements.


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Dr. John Weaver publishes another newsletter, co-authored by Darlene Weaver, THE CENTERED PENDULUMIt is our firm belief that lifelong patterns of “being” (personality, attitudes, emotions) and “doing” (lifestyle, adaptability, coping skills) interact with our genes and environment to create conditions of a healthy or a diseased brain.  If you would like to read previous issues of the Centered Pendulum newsletter or to subscribe, please visit the archives at http://www.centeredpendulum.org/newsletters.htm.