'Powerful' Leaders May Be Poor Managers

LONDON, Aug. 11 (UPI) — Strong leaders may be bad managers and can hurt the bottom line because they stifle the opinion of other workers, researchers in London found.

Dr. Connson Locke of the London School of Economics and colleagues say it is important for leaders to exude authority and competence, but evidence suggests managers who appear too powerful — women or men alike — will inhibit their team members from expressing an opinion.


Business is loaded with specialists and technical information and subordinates often know more about a specific subject than their manager — and when this knowledge is excluded, decisions suffer, Locke says.

In one experiment, participants were assigned roles as supervisors or subordinates, while researchers observed the participants to see how much the subordinates contributed. The more the supervisor adopted a powerful demeanor, the less the subordinate contributed, the researchers say.

In a second experiment, a researcher played the role of leader and, together with the subordinates, picked one of three candidates for a job based on a written profile.

The researcher would always argue for the least-qualified candidate for the role, to see if the subordinate would agree to hire the least-qualified candidate. When the researcher adopted a powerful demeanor, 69 percent of subordinates agreed, but when the researcher did not, 42 percent agreed.

The findings were presented at the Academy of Management conference in Montreal.

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