“. . . recent research suggests that power reduces the ability to understand how others see, think, and feel.” [Tubbs, p. 231] What an extraordinary premise! Our author is citing studies conducted by Galinsky, et. al. and goes on to say that “they also discovered that power can inhibit empathy, the ability to perceive another person’s emotional states.” Talk about a disconnect … this quite possibly could explain the ability of dictators and tyrants to disassociate themselves with the pain they were inflicting … I know, that’s a dark place to go, but associating the experience of power with the inability to relate to others is a rather dark thought, to me.
Some three years later, this same group from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University continued their studies into the effects of power on perception and perspective and gave an even greater platform for investigation, “It may be that reduced perspective-taking is not a conscious decision that happens when power is attained; rather, it might be a psychological state that is an emergent property of increased power [ital. mine]. The researchers went on to say that ,”One of the best means to inspire perspective-taking in the powerful is to make leaders feel more responsible for their subordinates. Closely related to this is the need to make leaders accountable, to keep their more egocentric and destructive psychological forces in check.” [Galinsky, 2009]
On a lighter note, I wanted to share this graphic. This is an all-time favorite of mine as I have “back in the day” worked for a few bosses just like this!!
This certainly puts the segment in this chapter on the “Positive and Negative Uses of Power” into perspective.
Personally, I was very pleased with the concepts of function theory and that leaders are “made, not born.” [Tubbs, p. 237]