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POWER

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Most employees would agree there are times when their bosses do not seem to listen to them. Whether it involves spending money when an employee suggest it is unwise, or pursuing an action when a knowledge employee advises against it. Kelly See, Assistant Professor of management and organization at New York University, was curious about these workplace scenarios and put together an in-depth study to look into the extent to which people in power take advice from knowledgeable colleagues. See’s project conducted over 2 years included 1,500 participants, concluded, “the more power managers have, the less likely they are to take advice.”

See explained that people in powerful positions tend to be more confident in their decisions. While this is generally positive, sometimes the tendency of the powerful to disregard advice has dramatic consequences. See says the 1986 Challenger disaster, which killed seven astronauts and shocked the nation is a good example. The tragedy occurred after a complex decision-making process, and See says her team has looked into why decision makers discounted suggestions that the launch was not safe that morning. She says, “One of the reasons was the power dynamics between the people giving the information and the people who were in charge of the situation.” In her conclusions, See suggests possible solutions. “It’s important to surround yourself with people who are going to disagree with you and to remind you that you’re not always right. We wanted to raise awareness of the inflated confidence of powerful individuals.”

--Bosses Don’t Listen: Now there’s Proof, http://news.yahoo.com/bosses-dont-listen-now-theres-proof-211753472.html; August 24, 2011, Illustration by Jim L. Wilson and Jim Sandell

Proverbs 16:32 (HCSB) Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s temper, than capturing a city.

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