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3 Ways Power Changes People
How much does power go to your head? If it didn’t, then you’re the exception and you’re magnanimous and generous of spirit.
According to numerous studies, people put into power positions are prone to a couple of behavior changes:
1. Power makes most people become more focused on their own needs and wants
2. Power changes people to become less focused on what others need, want and do
3. Power influences people to act as if rules others are expected to follow don’t apply to them
Consider this scenario. Three people are working together. A plate of five cookies is made available on the break. Social norms dictate that no one takes the last (fifth) cookie, but what about the fourth?
In an experiment for the research study, groups of individuals were placed into teams of three, to evaluate the output (the “boss”). During the break, the experimenter arrived with a plate of five cookies. This allowed each participant to take one cookie, and at least one participant to comfortably take a second cookie, thus leaving one cookie on the plate. No one was expected to take the fifth cookie and no one did. But what about the fourth, the one that could be taken without awkwardness, or negotiation?
The results of the study showed that the “boss” (the evaluator) was clearly more likely to take a second cookie. (Videotapes of the interactions also showed them more likely to eat with their mouths open and scattering crumbs widely.)
The conclusion is that individuals in power are more “disinhibited” and prone to focus on their own needs to the exclusion of others.
This is just one study showing bad boss behaviors and how “power corrupts.” There are many others. Maybe you can think of a few examples in your experience when the boss ate the fourth cookie with his/her mouth open?
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Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.