“It’s a black and white issue.”
“We’re working in the grey area.”
These phrases get thrown around a lot in business culture. And with good reason – some of us see the world in black and white, while others see the grey in between. One viewpoint isn’t better than the other, but it can be important to understand where you stand and how you see things. Especially since a new study shows how easy it is to switch from one point of view to the other, without even realizing it.
But how? Why?
Believe it or not, the answer is by becoming a boss.
A study at the USC Marshall School of Business attempted to find out what happens to someone’s viewpoint when he or she becomes a boss. In other words, anytime a person is given more power or authority. This could mean becoming the CEO, or it could mean becoming a Team Leader, Union representative, Supervisor, or Middle Manager.
The study revealed two fascinating – and startling – findings:
1) “People given power suddenly feel much more certain about the difference between right and wrong. And they come down on wrong harder.”
2) “Newly-minted bosses are quicker to decide what’s moral and immoral…and they’re more likely to deliver punishment for the immoral than to reward do-gooders.”
Yikes! So those who might previously have found themselves in the grey area, suddenly become more black and white when they’re given increased power, AND they become quicker to punish than to reward!
Lord Acton’s famous 19th Century remark declared, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
But it doesn’t have to!
All you bosses out there — has your viewpoint shifted since becoming a boss? Have you become less grey, more black and white? Likewise, if you’re someone who’s apt to be given more boss-like responsibility soon, note your current viewpoint and be aware of any changes.