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The psychological consequences of power on self-perception: implications for leadership

Voyer, Benjamin G. and McIntosh, Bryan (2013) The psychological consequences of power on self-perception: implications for leadership. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 34 (7). pp. 1-45. ISSN 0143-7739

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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to explore theoretical connections between the cognitive consequences of power on self-perception and the behaviours of leaders. Design/methodology/approach - A systematic literature review was carried out to investigate the psychological consequences of power in terms of self-perception, perspective taking abilities, emotions, and behaviours. The literature reviewed is further integrated in a theoretical model, and a series of propositions suggesting a relation between power, perspective taking, self-construal, and leadership are introduced. Findings - We argue that power creates both temporary and enduring cognitive changes that transform the way individuals assimilate and differentiate their self from others. This transforms the way individuals in power behave as leaders, as well as followers. Individuals’ self-construal and perspective taking seem to play a mediating role in determining the behaviours of powerful and powerless individuals. This relation is moderated by organisational culture and structure, as well as personality traits. Research limitations/implications - Further research is needed to test these propositions, including the existence of cross-cultural differences in the power – self-construal relation, and the consequences of holding different types of power on an individual’s self-construal. For employees and consultants working in organisational development and organisational change, understanding the potential consequences of power in terms of self-perception will improve the understanding of promoting individuals to higher positions. The present research also bears implications for scholars interested in understanding cross-cultural and gender differences in leadership. Originality/value - This conceptualisation of self-construal as an interface between power and leadership reconcile the individual dynamics of trait theories of leadership and the environmental positions of situational theories of leadership. The paper discusses elements considered critical for design of leadership programs in the workplace, professional development and programs to shape the design of leadership.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Divisions: Psychological and Behavioural Science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2012 09:54
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2021 00:28

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