J. Clayton Lafferty, Ph.D. (1928-1997)

Founder of Human Synergistics International

A pioneer in the psychology of achievement and human effectiveness, Dr. J. Clayton Lafferty founded Human Synergistics in 1971 to provide organizations and consultants with research-based materials for individual, leadership, and team development. Dr. Lafferty’s background in clinical psychology, both practical and theoretical, and his knowledge of organization and leadership in ancient and modern cultures, provided him a broad and unique perspective for addressing the problems facing contemporary businesses, managers, and society in general.

He and his associates researched and developed a multi-level series of diagnostic instruments — focusing on self-assessment, achievement thinking, and responsible decision making — that encourage effective personal and leadership behavior. Perhaps the best-known diagnostic is the Circumplex-based Life Styles Inventory™, measuring individual thinking and behavioral styles. Dr. Lafferty also developed the Desert Survival Situation™, the innovative team-building simulation demonstrating synergy, which has since evolved to become one of the most widely used training tools in the world.

Dr. Lafferty attended Hillsdale College and earned his doctorate in psychology from the University of Michigan. He received numerous awards, most notably the 1983 American Society for Training and Development Award for Excellence in Professional Competency for his work with a Fortune 500 company. Dr. Lafferty was also listed as an honored member in the 1991 edition of U.S. Registry’s “Who’s Who in Leading American Executives.” He was a member of the American and the Michigan Psychological Associations (serving as President of W.P.O.), the American Management Association, and the American Society for Training and Development.

Dr. Lafferty passed away in 1997, but his dedication to creating materials and programs that promote excellence in organizations has earned him an enduring international reputation. With the support of Human Synergistics International, Dr. Lorraine Lafferty established the J. Clayton Lafferty Chair in Leadership with the Dow Leadership Center at Hillsdale College in honor of her late husband.