Two academics in the US have discovered a simple test that can tell leaders from followers.
In their book "Friend and Foe", Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer, explore the idea of 'power priming', or preparing people to lead. After people have been 'primed' for power, even the least likely followers experience significant changes to their behaviour.
'Priming' someone can be as simple as asking them to remember a time when they had power over people, or asking them to adopt a ‘power posture’, such as putting their hands on their hips or puffing their chests. Or you can get them to listen to power anthems. The tennis player Barry Cowan famously listened to You’ll Never Walk Alone, the Liverpool FC anthem, on his Walkman during changes of ends when he took Pete Sampras to five sets at Wimbledon in 2001.
To find out how gaining power changed people's behaviour, Galinsky and Schweitzer asked people to draw a capital E on their forehead. Powerful people, who had been 'primed', were three times as likely to draw it backwards, so that only they could read it.
Schweitzer told the Times that the experiment even worked when they were pitching their book to Random House, the publisher. "It happened to work perfectly. The senior editors were the ones who were self-focused," he said.
Gender can also sway the results of the test. Women are more likely to draw the 'E' so that it can be read by others, but this is only because there is a gender imbalance of power in the workplace, the authors said. Given the same amount of power, women are just as likely to become self-centred.
"Gender effects, in our research, are really power effects," Schweitzer told the Times. “If women ruled the world it would look a lot like it does today.”Reuse content