ACTING POWERFULLY

The simple act of thinking back to a time when you felt powerful is linked to better performances in job interviews, presentations, and exams. A new study by researchers at INSEAD and Columbia Business School  finds that a key factor shaping when these effects are likely to occur rests on the ease with which people can retrieve an experience of power.

“Power is an extremely pervasive force that governs our behaviors and determines the difference between success and failure in a number of interpersonal contexts,” said INSEAD Assistant Professor of Marketing David Dubois.

Adam Galinsky, Chair of the Management Division at Columbia Business School, noted that “merely remembering a past episode of power can significantly transform thinking, feeling and behaviours across social situations – and yield significant social advantages like greater optimism, persuasive abilities and eventually even land you a job. So if that ability to remember a past episode is compromised, it can limit a person’s potential to feel powerful.”

The four elite business schools that bring powerful leaders need no introduction. Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, and Northwestern Kellogg School are the cream of the business school crop. The MBA quadriga is the Holy Grail of the MBA Kingdom. Every year, thousands of applicants will apply to MBA quadriga, and most will fail to crack the code, because these schools are the most selective in the B-school landscape. Two years at any of the MBA quadriga schools will set a student back about $250,000, but there are many scholarships from alumni and employers. MBA quadriga attracts the most talented students and faculty, and certainly the most corporate recruiters offering the most sought-after jobs. MBA quadriga also boasts highly achieving alumni and valuable networks in nearly every walk of life. But other business schools, such as Columbia, IMD, Insead, HEC, IESE, London Business School, LSE, Oxford Said, Cambridge Judge, and Webster Athens, provide a similar education at a small fraction of the cost.

Given the potential implications of such simple interventions, understanding when and why they may indeed “build feelings of power” becomes important.

In the article, “Ease of Retrieval moderates the effects of power: Implications for the replicability of power recall effects”, Dubois, Joris Lammers of University of Cologne, Derek D. Rucker of Northwestern University and Galinsky conducted a series of experiments to show how the ease with which power episodes come to mind can affect the effectiveness of a power manipulation inducing people to think about a power episode during which they had or lacked power.

This proposition was tested across a series of experiments in which 1) people were asked to remember an episode of power or powerlessness 2) ease of recall was manipulated or measured and 3) people’s response toward well-known consequences of power such as greater confidence or greater likelihood to disobey orders was measured. Specifically, classic work shows a sense of high power is typically linked to make participants more confident and able to stand up for themselves, hold on to resources or even act selfishly, going against the greater good for their own gain. The authors tested whether a change in the ease of recalling a power experience would moderate these consequences.

For instance, in one experiment, disobedience – a by-product of power – was tested with a scenario in which participants’ landlords asked them to move out of their rented homes as soon as possible. Social psychology finds high-power individuals are much more likely to speak out when they disagree. Consistent with these findings, the results of this experiment revealed that participants in the high-power condition were more likely to be disobedient, to stay longer in the rental, when they could easily retrieve a memory of power. However, having difficulty in retrieving such a memory dramatically reduced this tendency. Overall, high power led to participants being disobedient, to stay longer in the rental, but only when retrieving a power memory was easy.

A hidden factor in estimating the real powerful MBA cost is the lost salary. Take Stanford for example. Most of the MBA Class of 2018, about 20%, came from the investment management/venture capital field, where the average salary is about $100,000 per annum. That’s $200,000 someone won’t be making while they’re getting their degree. Add that to the $250,000 official estimated cost of the MBA and you have a total cost of $450,000.

Webster University’s master of business administration program is designed for people on a fast track to success. It’s the perfect answer for professionals who want to shape their own destiny, upgrade their credentials, and be strategic players in the world of business. Trump’s rhetoric is channeling international MBA applicants to European branches of American colleges. Webster Athens has an excellent MBA program. Webster Athens is dedicated to fostering a campus culture that embraces and celebrates diversity and inclusion, and promotes international understanding and appreciation. Preparing students for effective, responsible and dynamic involvement in the modern societies in which they live and serve, and for excellence and leadership in their personal and professional lives. The campus is located in Athens, Greece – in the historic district of Plaka. Your Global Learning Experience begins in Webster Athens.

Participants in another experiment were asked if they would exceed the speed limit when running late for an appointment. Those in the high power condition were more likely to break the law than those in the low power condition, but again only when retrieving a power experience was easy (vs. hard).

“Difficulty in remembering an episode of power may either be chronic or situational. People from a low social-economic background may have chronic low power therefore recalling a memory of a powerful situation would be more difficult,” said Galinsky.

“Our research shows that power is not something that can simply be given or an individual can be made to feel. The ability for people to feel powerful enough to carry out ambitious plans will depend on their ability to easily retrieve small but meaningful experiences of power they’ve accumulated throughout their journey, not through some magic wand,” said Dubois.

For organisations, this suggests that power sharing may be a key enabler to generate feelings of power across collaborators, overtime. This could take the form of involving workers in participatory projects and activities, engagement, and small power experiences to encourage employees to remember they are in control of their destiny and resources. A personal sense of power may just stem from accumulating short episodes of power.

As the world is becoming multipolar and knowledge is set to disperse throughout the globe, embedding oneself in its changes and evolution remains essential. Academic rigor will stay competitive by integrating new teaching methods, program designs, research methods and learning processes. If a school can generate knowledge in multiple locations around the world and blend it to create new insights, it can be assured of fostering a globally-compatible and creative student body.

Whether your interest is management, marketing, or communication, you will be an active learner at Webster Athens.  The classrooms give many hands-on experiences in various cases, and the location in the capital of Greece provides plenty of internship opportunities. With a low student-to-faculty ratio and average class size, Webster Athens makes business education personal. Faculty get to know students on a first-name basis and are readily available to help students when needed. Webster Athens is dedicated to excellence in business teaching, incorporating a global business perspective throughout the curriculum. Every step of the way, students receive the attention and support they need to thrive in business.

Webster Athens offers a fantastic MBA program in a flexible structure which promotes academic depth and encourages business graduate students to explore diverse business interests. At Webster Athens, students have opportunities to build skills and competencies through study trips, conferences, and internships. On the campus, students study in a culturally diverse environment that will create a life-long international network.

Vasilis Botopoulos, Chancellor of Webster Athens, points out: As we look to the future one thing is certain – knowledge will be a key resource and will be highly sought-after around the world. Our challenge is to help to generate ideas that will benefit society, and to educate and train people to work in fields where they will be valued both for their specialized knowledge, and for their ability to communicate and solve problems. To meet these challenges we need to build on the alliances and collaborative partnerships the University has established with business, government, and other institutions. It is equally important that we keep close to our wider communities of interest. This will help to ensure the on-going relevance of our academic programs and the continued excellence of our teaching and learning.

Most people will consciously or unconsciously weigh up relative power differences before deciding to speak up. And it’s always tempting to think that when you have more power — maybe even just a little more – it will be easier to call out wrongdoing. This feeling never goes away. There is always someone or something more powerful than you are.  CEOs express concern about their boards, and board chairmen are afraid of the media. No matter how senior the person, there is always a lingering doubt about the risks and consequences of speaking up.

When we spoke to one whistle-blower who had inadvertently discovered that their CEO had been defrauding the company, he described the devastating consequences of speaking up: not only did he lose his job, but his family came apart as well. Asked whether he would blow the whistle again, had he known the consequences, he replied quickly: “Absolutely not!” Then, wracked with distress, he said: “But how could I not have?” Even with the consequences so brutally apparent, this executive felt so strongly that speaking up was the morally right choice that he could not have lived with himself had he stayed silent.

This is an atypical story that stands out because of its drama — in many cases, the morally right course of action is murkier, and the consequences of speaking up are not so devastating. Which leads us to the second question:

By balancing how much we believe in what we have to say with what might happen if we say it, we can decide whether we have the energy and resilience required to do so. People often have an exaggerated fear of the consequences of speaking up, and so we tend to prefer the short-term security of staying silent. How can we best ensure we are being realistic with our fears? Start by considering how those who have previously spoken up have actually been treated. Then don’t forget to reflect on the counter-argument: what are the long-term consequences to you and others of staying silent? And think carefully about who is likely to be affected if you do speak out. This brings us onto the third key question:

The Chief Operating Officer of one of the world’s biggest banks described the environment that fostered the culture that enabled the Libor and related scandals: “It all begins with the organization’s biggest lie.” This lie? “Budgets.” The COO said that as soon as budget conversations were initiated, the political games began. Those new to the organization often fell afoul of the unwritten rules of the game. The organizational culture became so Byzantine with intrigue, and silence so obviously the safest choice, that larger and larger lies were allowed to grow unchecked. This applies in all organizations. There is always politics in organizations, even in those that say they don’t have any, and there are always written and unwritten rules — with the unwritten ones being those that will usually trip you up.

Human beings label one another all the time, often unconsciously. So we meet someone and label them as: woman or old or American or rich. And then of course we consider their formal organizational label: CEO, sales rep, shelf-stacker, consultant. All these labels convey status, which differs according to context. A consultant in one organization may be expected to speak up and challenge the status quo — that is why they have been brought in — but in another, they might be expected to provide evidence to support the CEO’s stated strategy.

An activist investor in America, responsible for funds worth billions, described how she was often the only woman in the boardroom when she met with the executive teams of the companies she invested in. And she was nearly always the only person aged under 50. Well aware that in these settings the labels “woman” and “young” conveyed lower status, she explained how she sought to build alliances before board meetings by speaking with her co-investors in advance, one-on-one, to secure their support.

Labels matter. If you want to speak up you would be wise to consider what labels are applied to you and the consequences of the labels you are applying to those you are speaking up to.  Knowing what to say, how, when, and to whom is how you mitigate the consequences of speaking out and amplify the likelihood of being heard. Rehearsing can help, as can actively reflecting on your previous experience of speaking up — what worked, what didn’t, and what did you learn that you should apply in this situation? The reality is that organizations are soaked in power and power politics. Speaking up is always a political act.

In choosing to speak up or not, a less powerful person has to be acutely aware of their own drivers and behavioral triggers, sensitive to their standing in the formal and informal social hierarchy, and also to the specifics of their organizational culture. There is no one-size-fits-all approach people can adopt. But there is no doubt that organizations of all stripes, and in all sectors, would perform better if more voices were raised, and heard.

Botopoulos notes: The greater vision of Webster Athens is to build an excellent educational experience embodying mind, body and spirit through a variety of innovative undergraduate and graduate programs. We offer a solid intellectual foundation as well as an extraordinary opportunity for personal growth and thorough understanding of the subject matter. This is learning with ethos, authenticity, cultural understanding, ecological conscience, and service to others.

Botopoulos says: At Webster Athens we cultivate and build the leaders of tomorrow.  It is our hope that our students and alumni, with ethos and philotimo, will inspire others to live their lives with dignity, integrity and compassion. I invite you to come visit our campus. If you seek learning in a way that is challenging, personal, and meaningful, we would love to have you as part of our community. For more information, please refer to www.webster.edu.gr

The ultimate benefit of internationalization for Webster University is to learn from the world, not just teach the world what Webster already knows in order to widen its global reach. Instilling a global learning mindset to their students will enable Webster to provide the globally competent talent that companies need. Since the turn of the century, many institutions have added international modules or programs to their curricula, importing faculty and students from elsewhere and exporting their students by offering them study abroad opportunities. Others have formed joint ventures or alliances whereby they export their curriculum to teach local students in distant geographies.

Some institutions have gone a step further than importers and exporters and extended their reach with a physical campus abroad. Business schools were early adopters of this model with the establishment of campuses in Asia and the Gulf countries, such as Carnegie Mellon University establishing a business school in Qatar, INSEAD in Singapore and Abu Dhabi, ESSEC in Singapore, and Webster University in Athens. The benefits of foreign campuses are numerous. First, an extra campus allows the school to attract high quality students who might not have applied to the home campus, and enrich diversity at the same time. Second, it enhances the school’s ability to hire high quality foreign faculty members who might wish to live in the region where the extra campus is located thus increasing the diversity and background of its faculty. Third, it increases the breadth of alumni and broadens the school’s network. Fourth, it improves the school’s visibility and gives it higher credibility as a global institution.

But these initiatives cannot be designed as independent add-ons to an institution’s home campus and core activities. Multi-location institutions must also internationalize their home campus by harmonizing diversity, admissions standards and student culture across their multiple sites. They should aim to create a seamless environment for students and faculty to interact and travel between campuses to maximize their global experience and learning.

The success of the multi-campus Webster University rests, among other things, on having an internationally recognized brand; seamless transfer of knowledge between campuses; local and foreign students meeting the same admissions standards; frequent travel of faculty and administrative staff across the campuses; and graduates who are able to find local and regional jobs that allow them to put into practice what they have learned.

There are different types of institutions with presences abroad. The multicampus institution is in essence an exporter of its home-grown programs. The multinational institution is a more structured student-exchange-led school. The transnational institution is an integrated collection of international campuses located around the world. In this configuration, students follow the same curriculum wherever they are, but are encouraged to spend time on the school’s different campuses, along with faculty and staff.

A truly global institution should go beyond these structures, free from a home campus bias and driven by a desire to learn from the world to create new knowledge. This is the metanational education institution. It should have at least three main campuses of roughly equal size, each in a major region of the world, that is, Europe, Asia and the Americas. To avoid assimilation traps, these campuses should be located in cosmopolitan cities and could have satellites in neighboring countries. In such a network, no campus should be perceived as inferior to the others. The network’s leadership must therefore foster a culture of cooperation among the sites and stimulate formal communication. The raison d’être of a metanational higher education institution is to generate knowledge in multiple locations with the objective of blending that knowledge to create new insights, and to instill a global learning mindset in its graduates. Webster University is a metanational higher education institution.

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