Advice for senior managers - Business Works
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Advice for senior managers

Adi Gaskell
T he BBC had an article a few weeks ago asking if great CEOs were a myth. "What that tells us is that the ability of managers to make their company more efficient is perhaps not as great as we think and we overestimate the ability of managers to improve their companies," they go on to say.

That we bestow great power and prestige upon individuals in high places is of course nothing new, but some research published earlier this year highlights the flaws of doing so for the way companies make decisions.

The paper suggests that once people achieve positions of power they gain in confidence and subsequently fail to listen to advice from other people. Other people that are quite probably better informed than you are.

The research team conducted four experiments and in each they found that powerful people were more likely than those with less power to disregard and mistrust outside perceptions and advice, with men more likely than women to ignore the opinions of others.

They suggested that, in the eyes of the powerful, asking for advice was a sign of weakness, that knowing the answer to every problem would project confidence in their ability. Very dangerous.

Suffice to say that these findings support a growing consensus that senior managers succumb to hubris when they reach the top.

All is not lost however. By "directly addressing the inflated confidence levels of powerful individuals," the researchers write, "organizations may be able to help people with power take (and / or seek) advice when it is valuable to do so."

How can you encourage senior managers to listen to the advice of others?

This is a guest article by Adi Gaskell, management writer for Professional Manager magazine.

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