Acting like the Boss

I’ve just come across an interesting post on bosses published a couple of weeks ago at the blog, Weird Things.

A study by social psychologists at the University of California not only confirms the axiom that talking like a leader makes you seem like one in people’s eyes, but proves that the more dominating your personality, the easier it is to get away with incompetence. By taking a group of people and presenting them with challenges, the researchers tried to evaluate what makes someone a leader. The study’s participants generally tended to assign leadership roles and favorable ratings to people who spoke the most and seemed the most confident with little regard for the quality of their answers and suggestions.

When solving math problems from an old GMAT test, the same highly thought of leaders were the ones who gave the most answers, not the ones who gave the right answers. . .Participants gave any person who spoke up a higher rating than those who were quiet, even if these people said little or nothing of substance. [. . .]

[. . .] When we’re choosing our leaders, we focus too much on flash and pay little attention to the substance. It’s also interesting to note that you could be seen as leader material by giving your team a cheery, confident pep talk, putting up a to do list and waiting until it’s all done to shake a few hands and say “oh, I had no doubts we can do it.” To top it all off, most of your co-workers would describe you in very favorable ways after you did nothing but talk.

[. . .] A BusinessWeek Poll found that 9 out of 10 bosses think their performance puts them in the top 10% of their peers. . . So not only do bosses rise to the top by acting like experts, they also seem to think they belong at the top by virtue of their positions.

You can read the entire post here.

A tip of the hat to David Yamada and his blog, Minding the Workplace, for pointing me to the Weird Things post above.  Yamada contributes to the discussion about bosses by drawing on Robert Townsend’s, Up the Organization.

[. . .] Townsend suggested that employees should rate their bosses on a 1 (worst) to 10  (best) scale, based on the following categories:  Is your boss (1) available; (2) inclusive; (3) humorous; (4) fair; (5) decisive; (6) humble; (7) objective; (8) tough; (9) effective; and (10) patient?

Townsend advised that if your boss scores below 50, “look for another job.”

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