Saturday, February 26, 2011

Do MBAs from Top B-Schools Have to be More Consultative Leaders?

The Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition reports on a new study by Stephen Sauer to be published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Sauer compares the effectiveness of "directive" vs. "participative" leadership styles for "high status" vs. "low status" leaders. By status, for instance, he refers to the ranking of the business school from which the leader graduated. In an experiment, Sauer asked observers to evaluate the effectiveness of leaders that they watched on video. For leaders with lower status, a more directive approach yielded higher evaluations of effectiveness. However, leaders with higher status experienced the opposite result. They were given lower grades if they were more directive and higher grades if they were more participative. It seems, then, that individuals are more apt to penalize high status leaders for being too heavy-handed. They may have to be a bit more consultative until they can build some trust and overcome some of the "image liabilities" associated with going to a top notch school.

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