Power makes leaders dumb. The more power you gain the dumber you get.
There are at least seven dumbing effects of power.
- Reduces the complexity of your thinking. You over-simplify.
- Limits your ability to consider alternatives. You decide quickly and validate your decisions.
- Permits you to treat people like objects who get things done rather than human beings.
- Closes your ears. Powerful people minimize what others know.
- Decreases your interest in others. You matter more.
- Inspires preoccupation with self. The world revolves around you.
- Struggles to understand the perspective of others.
The most dangerous danger of dumb leadership:
Dumb leaders create dumb organizations.
Powerful leaders wrongly believe they have the answers. In reality, “80% of of an organization’s potential for improvement lies in front-line ideas.” (The Idea-Driven Organization)
Getting smart requires humility.
Humble leaders are smarter than arrogant.
Identify, promote, and hire humble people.
8 ways to spot humility:
- How do you talk about co-workers?
- How do co-workers talk about you?
- How do you support others?
- How do you celebrate the accomplishments of others?
- How much attention do you require?
- How much time do you spend talking about yourself?
- How much time do you spend calmly listening?
- How well do you tolerate working behind the scenes?
7 ways to develop humble organizations:
- Eliminate dress codes. Managers and leaders dress more like everyone else.
- Remove physical barriers that create inaccessibility.
- Limit bureaucracy and sign-offs.
- Locate managers and leaders closer to the front line.
- Develop transparency. Everyone knows how everyone is doing. Secrets protect inequity.
- Expect more execution and less talk. Talking without execution encourages arrogance.
- Look to the front-line for answers first.
This post is adapted from chapter 2 of the new book, “The Idea-Driven Organization,” by Alan G. Robinson and Dean M. Schroeder. (Recommended reading for leaders who want to empower their workforce and develop an idea-driven organization.)
How can leaders protect against the arrogance of power?
How can leaders develop humble organizations?
*Research by Galinsky, Gruenfeld, and Magee in, “From Power to Action.”