Leading Isn’t About Info

The study recruited 150 participants and divided them into groups of three. One person was randomly assigned to be the group’s leader; all were told they could contribute advice, but that the leader was responsible for making the decision. Then they undertook a group task: choosing a job candidate. Of 45 items of information about the candidate, some were given to all three, and some to only one of the participants. … Group members rated the most narcissistic leaders as most effective. But … the groups led by the greatest egotists chose the worse candidate for the job. … “The narcissistic leaders … inhibited the communication because of self-centeredness and authoritarianism.” … Good leaders facilitate communication by asking questions and summarizing the conversation—something narcissists are too self-involved to do. (more; HT Karl Mattingly)

I predict that as the above result becomes more widely known, we will not much change our tendency to choose egotists as leaders. Yes the ability to get subordinates to reveal unusual info is valuable to the organization as a whole, but today this ranks pretty low among the many competing considerations in choosing a leader, and that probably won’t change much in the foreseeable future.

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