Constructive thinking: expanding the scope of cognitive psychology
Building on the work of Murray, McClelland and other cognitive psychologists, the late Dr. Clayton Lafferty developed the LSI, or Life Styles Inventory to measure and quantify an individual’s thinking style. Dr. Lafferty’s LSI was comprised of 12 scales. Four of the scales represented constructive thinking styles (Achievement, Self-Actualizing, Humanistic-Encouraging, and Affiliative). Four represented non-productive thinking styles (Approval, Conventional, Dependent, and Avoidance). The remaining four scales represented counter-productive thinking styles (Oppositional, Power, Competitive, and Perfectionistic). Dr. Lafferty noted that successful sales people were likely to engage in constructive thinking, while unsuccessful sales people were prone to think in counter-productive ways.
Dr. Lafferty was a creative and innovative thinker. One of his earliest creations was the Desert Survival simulation that has been utilized by millions of people around the world. This and his other simulations are used to teach team building and decision making to a wide range of people from primary school teachers to CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies.
Dr. Clayton Lafferty, Ph.D., in his 1997 book, Perfectionism: A Sure Cure for Happiness, which he co-wrote with his wife and fellow clinical psychologist, Dr. Lorraine Lafferty, he explains that perfectionists are overly concerned with their efficiency, image and performance. They judge critically without offering constructive help or alternative ways to approach a project or problem. Perfectionist bosses worry so much about their own performance that, in order to make themselves look good, they expect their employees to produce more than is humanly possible in the time available. They reduce deadline time while condemning workers for not accomplishing enough. The truth is, however, they don't feel that they are getting enough done themselves. Similarly, bullies are overly concerned with their public reputations. They need followers who look up to them, and they tend to perceive everything as black or white, right or wrong, with little tolerance for ambiguity. They also have minimum respect for others' personal space. One thing that bully and perfectionist bosses have in common is that they take away an employee's control over his or her job. While they possess the capabilities for success, both bullies and perfectionists lack self-esteem. "Such supervisors are competent, hardworking, intelligent workers who fear they're unable to compete in the workplace," explains Lafferty.
Lafferty found that the costs of perfectionism are stress and health problems for the boss and low productivity and morale for his or her employees. Referring to his ten years of study of perfectionism involving more than 9,000 supervisors and managers, Lafferty noted that "the single most important finding is that perfectionism makes you physically sick." Because they are so consumed with self-doubt, he adds, perfectionists' behaviors infect those they supervise--especially young employees--with feelings of inadequacy.
He received the 1983 American Society for Training and Development Award for Excellence in Professional Competency for his work in a large Fortune 500 Company. His dedication to providing effective materials and programs that promote excellence in organizations earned him an international reputation.
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