Article Summary: Who’s behind me? The powerful overestimate the support of underlings


LEADER (Photo credit: FMG2008)

Delusion, delusion, delusion. Indeed, a position of power can cause one to overestimate one’s connections with subordinates. Learn about this bias so that you will not make the same mistake. A quick summary of the actual article – as follows


In his experiment, Dr. Sebastien Brion of IESE Business School had randomly assigned people in work groups with positions of high or low power, or to a control group. When surveyed, those were assigned a high power position thought or felt that their subordinates (those in low power) were on their side. This view was, however, not reciprocated by those in the low power group.

Additionally he found that low power participants f0rmed strategic alliances against high powered individuals, perhaps to find strength in numbers, despite it being not in their financial interest to do so. Such phenomenal could perhaps explain riots through the centuries (and perhaps even Wall Street takeovers?). The best part of it all? The high powered were unaware of undercurrents stirring beneath.

Implications for you as a leader/manager? Not everyone likes you. In fact, there will be those who will oppose you even for no reason, but just for the fact that you have a “higher” power than them. By virtue of your position, don’t exploit it by beating down on those who are under you. Instead, help them. Show care and concern. Come down from the ivory tower and walk the ground. And while at it, show humanness and humility.



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4 thoughts on “Article Summary: Who’s behind me? The powerful overestimate the support of underlings

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