Power isn't enough: Study reveals the missing link for effective leadership

September 17, 2014

NEW YORK--With the National Football League in full damage-control mode, there are many questions about how the NFL's leader handled the Ray Rice case. Was Goodell ignoring the pleas of stakeholders--former NFL players, the media and domestic violence groups--when deciding on a two game penalty? The answer may lie in a study out today by Columbia Business School.

The research, just published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, finds that leaders who fail to take into account their audiences' perspective have a far greater propensity to bungle the issue and conversation. The study shows that the powerful--imagine CEOs, politicians, military commanders, sports commissioners etc.--who are conditioned to see the world from someone else's point of view produce better outcomes.

"Effective leadership is like a successful car ride. To go places, you need gas and acceleration--power is a psychological accelerator. But you also need a good steering wheel so you don't crash as you speed down the highway--perspective-taking is that psychological steering wheel," said Adam Galinsky, the Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business Management at Columbia Business School. "When you anchor too heavily onto your own perspective, and don't take into account the viewpoints of others you are bound to crash."

The series of studies explored how those in positions of power might benefit from taking employee's perspectives. Galinsky's line of research has found that:

The Research

The research, titled "Acceleration With Steering: The Synergistic Benefits of Combining Power and Perspective-Taking," is co-authored by Galinsky, the Vikram S. Pandit Professor of Business Management at Columbia Business School; Joe C. Magee, associate professor of Management and Organizations at NYU Stern School of Business; Diana Rus, assistant professor of Organizational Psychology at the University of Groningen in Netherlands; Naomi B. Rothman, assistant professor at Lehigh University; and Andrew R. Todd assistant professor at The University of Iowa, conducted three experiments.

The first two experiments tested the synergistic benefits of combining power and perspective-taking when handling a layoff. Participants in the experiments (In Experiment 2 all were students in an executive MBA program), were asked to think about an experience they had with high or low power. They were then subtly led towards perceptive-taking by being having to explain to others how they delivered the bad news or by considering words related to perspective-taking.

The researchers found that only when a person both had power and were perspective-takers did they treat employees more candidly and with greater respect.

To explore how the combination of power and perspective-taking affects those in less contentious scenarios, the researchers paired participants up and assigned one the role of boss and the other role of employee. Half of the participants were then led to consider the perspective of their partner. Then the pair had to make a decision that required both parties to share information and work together to solve a problem.

The researchers found that when power was combined with perspective-taking when making a complex decision, participants were able to discover the optimal solution to a nuanced problem.
-end-
To learn more about the cutting-edge research being conducted at Columbia Business School, please visit http://www.gsb.columbia.edu.

About Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School is the only world-class, Ivy League business school that delivers a learning experience where academic excellence meets with real-time exposure to the pulse of global business. Led by Dean Glenn Hubbard, the School's transformative curriculum bridges academic theory with unparalleled exposure to real-world business practice, equipping students with an entrepreneurial mindset that allows them to recognize, capture, and create opportunity in any business environment. The thought leadership of the School's faculty and staff, combined with the accomplishments of its distinguished alumni and position in the center of global business, means that the School's efforts have an immediate, measurable impact on the forces shaping business every day. To learn more about Columbia Business School's position at the very center of business, please visit http://www.gsb.columbia.edu.

Columbia Business School

Related Leaders Articles from Brightsurf:

How narcissistic leaders infect their organizations' cultures
Like carriers of a virus, narcissistic leaders ''infect'' the very cultures of their organizations, leading to dramatically lower levels of collaboration and integrity at all levels--even after they are gone.

How scientific leaders can enact anti-racist action in their labs
A new paper provides 10 steps that principal investigators (PIs) and research group leaders can follow to help cultivate anti-racist professional and learning environments.

Children hold leaders primarily responsible, not entitled
Researchers explored how young children conceptualize leadership, specifically whether they view leaders primarily as more entitled individuals or more responsible individuals, relative to non-leaders.

Study: New leaders emerge as organizations go to virtual work spaces
The study found that in face-to-face gatherings, team members value those with 'classic' leadership characteristics, such as extroversion and intelligence, but in virtual settings, those qualities take a backseat to those who take action.

Leaders call for 'Moonshot' on nutrition research
Leading nutrition and food policy experts outline a bold case for strengthening federal nutrition research in a live interactive session as part of NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE, a virtual conference hosted by the American Society for Nutrition (ASN).

Randomly selecting leaders could prove to be a remedy for hubris
History shows us that power tends to corrupt; a team of Swiss and German researchers have recently examined historical examples of large-scale business fraud and misconduct at the highest-levels of government in order to highlight how leaders sometimes lose all sense of morality.

Infants expect leaders to right wrongs, study finds
Infants 17 months of age expect leaders -- but not others -- to intervene when one member of their group transgresses against another, a new study reveals.

Strongman leaders make for weak economies, study finds
Autocratic leaders are often credited with purposefully delivering good economic outcomes, but new research challenges that long-held assumption.

Government and NHS leaders could do more to encourage collaborative relationships between healthcare
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has published a briefing note outlining the factors that can contribute to disagreements between parents and healthcare staff about the care and treatment of critically ill babies and young children.

In small groups, people follow high-performing leaders
Researchers at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering have cracked the code on how leaders arise from small groups of people over time.

Read More: Leaders News and Leaders Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.