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The importance and evolution of leadership Abraham P. Buunk Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences & University of Groningen.

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Presentation on theme: "The importance and evolution of leadership Abraham P. Buunk Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences & University of Groningen."— Presentation transcript:

1 The importance and evolution of leadership Abraham P. Buunk Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences & University of Groningen

2 What am I doing here? The Economist Magazine (2006, p.5) Organizations do not know how to lead people because… “….human resources as a discipline has not achieved anything like the level of sophistication of, say, finance” Astronomists don’t know how to move the stars

3 The business and political world seems obsessed with leadership leadership everywhere important issue Google: hits thousands of ‘models’ with an endearing simplicity and superficiality

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7 The business and political world seems obsessed with leadership leadership important issue Google: hits thousands of ‘models’ thousands of consulting agencies

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11 The business and political world seems obsessed with leadership leadership important issue Google: hits thousands of ‘models’ thousands of consulting agencies direct advices

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13 The business and political world seems obsessed with leadership leadership important issue Google: hits thousands of ‘models’ thousands of consulting agencies but also psychologists: thousands of scientific articles psychology of leadership at least 15 forms of leadership

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15 Why a preoccupation with leadership? Good leadership has strong effects on productivity: In trawlers, skipper accounts for 35-49% of catch CEO’s account for about 14% of the variance in a firm’s financial results

16 The Bloom & Van Reenen study manufacturing firms in US and Europe - company performance: - productivity, profitability, sales growth, survival rates - about 50% explained by four characteristics of leadership

17 1. Operations (e.g., process improvement, internal communication)

18 2. Targets (e.g., rigor and transparency of goals)

19 3. Monitoring (e.g., tracking and following up on individual performance)

20 4. Incentives (links between pay and performance)

21 Why should people want to lead? Invest large amounts of time Take responsibility for group’s outcomes Subordinates rarely happy Put personal security at risk

22 Why should people want to follow? Work for someone else’s income and prestige Dependent on someone else Lack of attention and appreciation Take risks for the benefit of someone else

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24 Evolutionary perspective Humans as animals How desires for leadership and followership are product of evolution

25 Why would someone want to be a dominant or a submissive? Two types of causes 1. proximate: strong desire for power and achievement vs. lack of ambition and lazyness 2. ultimate: dominance and submission were adaptive in evolutionary past

26 Human behavior as result of evolution

27 But why a leader? The importance of status 1999: Columbine high school shootings, Colorado 13 people killed ‘This is for all the people who made fun of us all these years’ 2003: Oaklyn, New Jersey: plans to do the same Leader in Oaklyn: speech impediment, bow legged and stooped gait, strange clothes ‘He was an easy target, but never lashed out. He just took it’… ‘Everybody picked on him”

28 The male motivation to attain status and dominance Leaders overwhelming men Geert Hofstede: around the world men more interested in power, leadership and self- realization Linked to testosteron, motivates competition for status Does not mean at all that men are better leaders

29 The ultimate cause of the male drive for status and dominance: Sexual selection and parental investment theory  Reproductive success of males limited by access to mates  Males therefore more competitive and more aggressive than females to gain access to sexually receptive females, and to prevent access of other males to females  For females generally off-spring requires much more investment than for males, reproductive success limited by access to resources  Therefore more choosy in partner choice than males: status, dominance, good genes  Among human males, long evolutionary history and ongoing evolution rooted in competition over these characteristics  Men successful in this competition had more offspring

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31 Dominance and status enhanced reproductive succes Yanomanö of Amazone men who killed other men have more wives and children Kipsigis of Kenia men with more acres have more reproductive succes Dzengis Khan: 16 million male descendants Laura Betzig: six early civilizations: the higher the status, the more wives Even regulated by law: Inca’s: “principal persons”: 50 women leaders of vassal nations: 30 women heads of provinces more than people: 20 women governors of at least 100 people: 8 women

32 Is there still a link between status and reproductive success among men and not among women?

33 Reproductive success and income

34 Result of evolution: hormonal effects of winning and loosing Higher status accompanied by higher androgen and serotonin levels ‘good feeling’ Lower status accompanied by elevated cortisol levels, greater physiological stress changes during conflict Following competitive games (even chess!) male winners (and supporters!) show elevation of testosteron

35 Winning an election: testosteron level increases Importance of winning

36 Sex differences  Males used to functioning in hierarchies, more direct ways of dominating and dealing with rivals, accept being subordinate,  Females less used to functioning in hierarchies, more indirect ways, such as spreading rumors, excluding, ignoring, and isolating rivals, preventing other females from being successful

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38 Queen Bee effect: women block careers of other women Naomi Ellemers and colleagues (University of Leiden, The Netherlands)

39 How male supervisors judge their subordinates: fair and egalitarian

40 How female supervisors judge their subordinates: biased against their own sex

41 Questions and comments!

42 The Russian Doll Model: layers of ways of attaining dominance

43 Major evolved strategies for achieving dominance 1. Direct fights, physical strength Bigger animals more dominant in many species, smaller animals prevent getting involved in fight

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46 The inner Russian Doll (1): tendency to fight physically is still non-verbally manifest

47 The inner Russian doll (2): unconscious perception of physical dominance of rivals: subliminal priming

48 Subliminal exposure to physically dominant Subliminal exposure to physically non-dominant rivalry Rivalry in men

49 The inner Russian doll (3): height still matters a lot

50 Sarkozy: ‘Frankly, Dom, what do I still lack to win the elections in 2007? Dom: ‘Oh …not that much. At its most just a 20 centimeters’

51 The importance of height in organizations Taller men … are more persuasive held in higher esteem more likely to emerge as leader perform better earn more: 15 cm equals € ,- over 30 years have higher positions in organizations are more liked by women have more reproductive success

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53 Rivalry among women Height for women less positive - Related to depression - Women of medium height higher fertility and reproductive success - Men don’t like women taller than they are (except Sarkozy) - Smaller women advantage

54 Test for intrasexual rivalry with questions like ‘When I go out, I can't stand it when men pay more attention to a friend of mine than to me’ ‘I just don’t like very ambitious women’ ‘I can't stand it when I meet another woman who has accomplished more in her life than I have’ ‘I wouldn't hire a highly competent woman as a colleague’

55 Intrasexual rivalry among females

56 Why would individuals be submissive? Submission to physically stronger animales is functional Prevent attacks, being killed, expelled from group Benefit from knowledge dominant animal ‘Wait one’s chances’: Prepare for future dominance

57 Major evolved strategies for achieving dominance 1. Direct fights, physical strength 2. Social skills: machiavellianism

58 Social brain hypothesis: Maintaining and manipulating relationships Why around 150 people invited? Why not 75? Or 350? No coincidence! Evolution human brain very fast 2.5 millions of years ago Not at all parallel to increase of complexity of technology Not at all parallel to increase of complexity of environment Robin Dunbar (University of Oxford): being able to function in large groups

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60 Neocortex Ratio Mean group size of primates

61 150 - the magic number number of people we can know and interact with on a personal basis

62 Around 150 found everywhere - clans of hunter gatherers - military units - business organizations - church congregations (200 maximum of coherent, well-integrated congregation) - size of personal networks

63 Knowing personally about 1000 people

64 Functioning in groups, and especially being and becoming dominant, requires intelligence

65 Why does functioning in large groups require intelligence? Animals move of their own volition and have feelings and thoughts To keep track of that requires enormous computational capacity

66 Remembering behavior of group members, who’s to trust Recognizing cheaters and free-riders Floating social norms without being caught Manipulating others for one’s own goals

67 Leaders not necessarily nicer, often manipulators Better liars Lack of empathy Narcissistic tendency

68 Power and perspective taking Adam Galinsky (Kellogg School of Management): Power diminishes perspective taking: Powerful people are less likely to adopt another person’s perspective

69 The E test Draw an E on your forehead

70 Power and taking another person’s visual perspective Powerful: Self- oriented Powerless: Other- oriented

71 Submission functional ‘bide your time’ voids at the top: emergence of new dominants fish species: when dominant male dead, other males more testosterone, competitive fights

72 The functionality of submission Margaret Tatcher who ‘bit her tongue’ - held back criticism until criticism with Ted Heath grew then acted by not being submissive, one may forever ruin one’s chances

73 Promotion tips as submissive strategies Leonard Sayles (1993): based on years of study of managers, ‘promotion tips’ Avoid confrontation Withhold suggestions Do not ask your boss to champion unpopular opinions Always agree with your boss Concentrate on presentation skills and looking good in meetings with superiors Demonstrate an intense desire for career advancement and beat your peers Try to find your next promotion because rapid advancement looks good

74 Career success - attaining status and dominance - is not the same as succesful leadership Career success: socializing, politicking, and networking: ‘upward ingratiation’ Effective team leadership: communicating, motivating, managing conflicts, training of subordinates: ‘downward affiliation”  Commitment to one’s career is not the same as commitment to the organization  No relation between career success and team performance

75 Comments and questions!

76 Major evolved strategies for achieving dominance 1. Direct fights, physical strength 2. Social skills: machiavellianism 3. Altruism and heroism

77 The next doll: the altruistic doll Competition in social skills in groups lead to evolution of additional strategy of attaining dominance: Altruistic behavior

78 Altruistic leadership Gaining status and prestige through: - Interfering impartially in conflicts - Being fair and generous to followers - Showing altruism - Self-sacrifice for sake of the group

79 Altruism pays off: the self-sacrifcing leader John McCain 1967 prisoner of war (pow) in Vietnam for more than five years very badly treated, tortured many times refused to be released as a special favor, if fellow pow’s who were captured earlier were also not released benefits from this 40 years later

80 The effectiveness of altruistic leaders Study of Fortune 1000: selection of companies that first performed below business sector average for 15 years, and than above average for 15 years Only 11 companies fit profile In each case after new CEO took over Two characteristics of these CEO’s

81 Characteristics of most effective CEO’s 1. Modest and humble 2. Extraordinarily persistent in pursuit of organizational goals

82 What have these two men in common?

83 Charismatic leadership Articulating vision and mission Inducing identification, loyalty, faith, respect, inspiration, commitment and devotion to the leader Hitler: the arrogant non-altruist Mandela: the humble altruist Study among Fortune 500 firms: leader charisma predicted his level of pay, but not firm performance

84 Major strategies for achieving dominance 1. Direct fights, physical strength 2. Social skills: machiavellianism 3. Altruism and heroism 4. Showing a Peacock’s tail

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87 The human peacock tail: producing art

88 The human peacock tail: beautiful and expensive goods

89 Importance of physical attractiveness

90 Physically attractive people …. Are hired more likely Are promoted more likely Are evaluated more positively in terms of their performance But …..

91 Crown Princess effect: women block careers particularly of attractive women Experiment among students Job description: student assistant working on data entry and photocopying, at the same project as oneself Personality description, e.g., nice, extravert, pleasant, outgoing personality ‘How likely would you hire this person?’

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96 Men and women prefer female candidates

97 Both men and women prefer attractive candidates of the opposite sex

98 But for same sex candidates the opposite: men prefer attractive male candidates, and women unattractive female candidates

99 A guideline ‘Bright leaders should be directive and tell group members what to do; the relatively less bright should be participative and listen (Fiedler & House, 1988, p. 76). Make your own choice!

100 Questions and comments?


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