NYU Professor Nathan Pettit and LBS Professor Nino Sivanathan have written a new research paper titled, "The Eyes and Ears of Status: How Status Colors Perceptual Judgment.” They conducted a series of experiments examining how a person's status affects his or her perceives feedback from others. The studies show that people of high status felt that people were applauding louder and responding more favorably to them than those of lower status. For instance, in one study, one half of the audience members exhibited favorable facial expressions, while the other half reacted negatively. However, the high status presenters perceived that almost two-thirds of the audience members were reacted positively to their presentation.
I'm sure you are not surprised by these results, but they do offer an important reminder to leaders of organizations. Leaders need to be mindful that they often underestimate the negative reaction to their decisions, presentations, and other interactions with members of the organization. Therefore, leaders need to take a second look at how people are receiving their messages. Perhaps they should use a sounding board, a confidante, who can help check the pulse of the organization. Sometimes, they might check in with small groups of people in an informal way to see how they are really feeling about a new plan or proposal. At the extreme, on certain occasions, it's useful to watch yourself on video. On many occasions, a leader's speech is captured on video to put on a company intranet or share with remote geographical locations. An astute leader takes the opportunity, on from time to time, to take a look at himself or herself on video. Watching themselves can be incredibly revealing. They often will see things that they never realized.