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Why leadership should be a collaborative exercise

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Why leadership should be a collaborative exercise

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In social business circles, there is a strong disposition towards inclusivity in decision making.  The notion is that when you involve people in decisions that effect them, then it is much more likely that they will be on board with any changes that are required.  What’s more, you’re also much more likely to get wide and varied information input into the process.

A recent paper highlights just how important this is.  It reveals that when leaders fail to either take into account the perceptions of those involved, or indeed give them an avenue to express their opinions, it is much more likely that the change will go wrong.  When the leader can envision things from other peoples perspectives however, it often produces better outcomes.

“Effective leadership is like a successful car ride. To go places, you need gas and acceleration—power is a psychological accelerator. But you also need a good steering wheel so you don’t crash as you speed down the highway—perspective-taking is that psychological steering wheel,” said the researchers, from Columbia Business School. “When you anchor too heavily onto your own perspective, and don’t take into account the viewpoints of others you are bound to crash.”

Hobbesian fallacy

The study explored the Hobbesian fallacy of seeing the world through your own eyes via a number of experiments.  It found that the more power one possesses, the worse one generally becomes at understanding the perspectives of others.  Their opinions become increasingly anchored around their own vantage point.

What’s more, there is a consistent disconnect between those who have the social skills to understand and appreciate the perspectives of others, and those who actually have the power to initiate change.

When the perfect combination exists within a leader however, it tends to ensure that challenging situations are managed successfully, whilst also facilitating the kind of information sharing that ensures people feel listened to and valued, and of course ensuring that complex decisions obtain the best possible outcome.

How good are leaders in your organization at adopting and understanding the perspectives of those outside of their inner circle?

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