Leaders, by virtue of position, responsibilities and personal
characteristics, possess power. And researchers have discovered
power can affect the quality of a leader's communication with
A study conducted in 2006 by Adam Galinsky, professor of
management and organization at Evanston, Ill.-based Northwestern
University's Kellogg School of Management, illustrates this point.
Galinsky randomly assigned experimental subjects to high-power and
low-power groups. He then asked subjects to perform a simple
task—draw the capital letter "E" on their own foreheads. Most
people in the low-power group drew the "E" with the spine on their
right so the experimenter could read it. Most people in the
high-power group drew the "E" in a self-oriented direction, with
the spine on their left, backward to the experimenter.
The link to communication? Galinsky concluded people with power
(whether randomly assigned or not) tend not to consider the
perspectives of others or adjust their own behaviors when faced
with the perspectives of others. This can affect communication
negatively, resulting in messages that subordinates may not respond
to because vital information is lacking.
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