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.