Self-Defeating Leader Behavior: Why Leaders Misuse Their Power And Influence

Self-Defeating Leader Behavior: Why Leaders Misuse Their Power And Influence

2005Working Paper No. 3008

Few concepts in the social sciences are invoked with the same ease or employed so readily to explain so many social and institutional outcomes as power. The concept of power has been used to explain, for example, how organizational resources are allocated (Pfeffer, 1992), how decisions are made (Neustadt, 1990), the control of attention (Fiske, 1993), behavioral disinhibition (Galinsky, Gruenfeld & Magee, 2003; Keltner, Gruenfeld & Anderson, 2003), and the resolution of conflict (Boulding, 1966, 1989), to name just a few important processes and outcomes. The concept of power is routinely used, moreover, not only to explain why such outcomes do happen, but also why they don’t. Russell’s (1938) observation that power is a “fundamental concept” in the social sciences remains as true today as it was when he first uttered it.