Does Power Stifle Innovation?
July 7 2011 by ChiefExecutive.net
Traditional thinking would say that powerful people are more creative. It might, however, be time to change that assumption. The argument is that a person in power will have high levels of confidence and this confidence will allow them to share all sorts of ideas. Even risky ones.
Though this argument is entirely logical, FastCompany explores the possibility that perhaps the exact opposite is true. Though power does invoke confidence, it may also invoke fear. When you’re on the top not only are mistakes more visible, but failure could mean having power taken away from you. FastCompany explores a new study by the University of Amsterdam that suggests power can cause leaders to have anxiety if their “position of power is not guaranteed.” This could lead to hesitancy to share creative new ideas. There is more incentive to maintain the status quo rather than aim to innovate.
What the study found is that in companies without stable power hierarchies, powerful leaders will be less likely to express their creativity for fear of losing their position. Oppositely, employees without power may feel more comfortable sharing creative ideas because they don’t have anything to lose, but have a lot to gain.