Strong Leadership Undermines Performance

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

Despite considerable evidence that hierarchical organizational structures encourages group-think and hamper innovation, forceful individuals such as Jack Welch (pictured bottom), Larry Ellison and the late Steve Jobs (pictured top) are still held up as role models for corporate leadership.

Steve_Jobs_Headshot_2010-CROP

But a new paper published in the October issue of the Academy of Management Journal argues that far from pushing their organizations to greater levels of achievement, strong leaders can actively undermine performance thanks to the twin evils of power dependence and the devaluing of subordinates.

According to Leigh Plunkett Tost of the University of Michigan, a co-author of the paper with Francesca Gino of Harvard and Richard P. Larrick of Duke, “it is widely thought that a penchant for power is basic to effective leadership. Our findings suggest otherwise.”

“Having a formal team leader isn’t a problem per se,” she said. “It becomes one, though, when that leader equates leadership…

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