Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Power without Status: A Recipe for Disaster?

Alison Fragale, Jennifer R. Overbeck, and Margaret Neale have conducted some interesting new research on power and status.   They have "observed that people who have power without status have a hard time in their organizations."   The researchers point out that most organizations have situations in which people have powerful positions, but people throughout the firm don't think very highly of them.   Status is in the minds of others; your status is how others perceive you.  You may secure a powerful position in a firm, but it doesn't mean that others attribute high status to you.  The scholars have found that, "high-power, low-status people struggle to lead and build a well-functioning team."  They have even found that people reject good advice from high-power, low-status leaders. 

What's the takeaway for leaders?  Recognize the difference between power and status.  Don't rely only on the formal hierarchy to get things done.  The informal status hierarchy matters a great deal.  Finally, when appointing someone to a powerful position, think about how others perceive them. Do they have high status?  If they don't, you might examine why that is the case.  What can be done to mentor or coach them so that their behavior can change, and ultimately, others' perceptions can change as well.

1 comment:

james said...

A very interesting post. One can easily see through anybody that is incapable of performing in a certain capacity' even if they have status. Their is little respect for those in power in high places if they are incompetent. The guy with an IQ of 90 that is in a job requiring an IQ of at least 110 will need the assistance of many others with lower status to be able to perform his job. Worse yet the guy with the lowly IQ may use their high status to blame their incompetence on everyone else. And what junior employee would dare go into a meeting with the intention of smearing their boss for their gross incompetence.