Why good guys aren’t preferred as tough leaders

September 28th, 2011 - 6:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 28 (IANS) When the going gets tough, people prefer a dominant power-hungry guy to lead them, rather than someone good or respectable, researchers say.

Respectable people may be perceived as desirable leaders in peaceful contexts, but they are viewed as submissive when compared to their more self-seeking peers, who can handle conflicts.

“People with high prestige are often regarded as saints, possessing a self-sacrificial quality and strong moral standards,” said study author Robert Livingston, assistant professor of management and organisations at the Kellogg School of Management.

“However, while these individuals are willing to give their resources to the group, they are not perceived as tough leaders,” added Livingston, according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Researchers define dominance as an imposed “alpha status”, whereas prestige is respect freely-conferred by others, according to a Kellogg School statement.

Al Capone, for example, can be viewed as a high-dominance individual, whereas Mother Teresa exudes high prestige.

“This research begins to explore when ‘nice guys’ finish first and when they finish last, depending on the group context,” said Nir Halvey, acting assistant professor of organisational behaviour at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“‘Nice guys’ don’t make it to the top when their group needs a dominant leader to lead them at a time of conflict,” added Halvey, who led the study.

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