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Divide and conquer: When and why leaders undermine the cohesive fabric of their group. (2014)

“..leaders sometimes sabotage their own teams to protect their own power.

Charleen R Case, Northwestern University. Evanston, Ill,
Jon K. Maner, Kellogg Schoool of Management, Northwestern University. Evanston Ill,
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Vol 107(6), Dec 2014, 1033-1050.


It’s assumed that leaders work to enhance positive social bonds among group members to facilitate cooperation and group cohesion.

This series of experiments finds however that leaders sometimes sabotage their own teams to protect their own power.

Typical tactics included restricting communication between subordinates, physically sequestering them and preventing them from bonding with one another interpersonally.

Interestingly, these behaviors were observed only among dominance-motivated leaders (not prestige-motivated leaders), and were directed only toward highly skilled (and thus highly threatening) subordinates.

Consistent with the hypothesis that leaders were being driven by a desire to protect their power, the tendency to prevent in-group bonding was eliminated when leaders were assured that their power could not be lost.

Access the article here: Divide and conquer




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