LEIGH PLUNKETT TOST University of Michigan


LEIGH PLUNKETT TOST University of Michigan

FRANCESCA GINO Harvard University

RICHARD P. LARRICK Duke University

We examine the impact of the subjective experience of power on leadership dynamics and team performance and find that the psychological effect of power on formal leaders spills over to affect team performance. We argue that a formal leader’s expe- rience of heightened power produces verbal dominance, which reduces team commu- nication and consequently diminishes performance. Importantly, because these dy- namics rely on the acquiescence of other team members to the leader’s dominant behavior, the effects only emerge when the leader holds a formal leadership position. Three studies offer consistent support for this argument. The implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Organizations make extensive use of teams when structuring and allocating work projects. Given the increasing prevalence of teams in modern organi- zations and the complexities involved in group dy- namics, questions about how to ensure high levels of collective learning and effective decision mak- ing, along with other key determinants of team performance, have captured extensive attention from researchers and practitioners alike (Martin & Bal, 2006). One important area of inquiry into team effectiveness is the issue of how the degree of hier- archy within a team can affect team performance. This question is relatively understudied, but some extant literature suggests that steeper hierarchy has a diminishing effect on team learning and team performance in general. For example, in a qualita- tive field study, Edmondson (2003) found power differences in teams to be negatively associated with team learning, and Eisenhardt and Bourgeois (1988), using a case-based methodological ap- proach, found that power inequality in teams in- creases political conflict and diminishes team per- formance. Similarly, other field-based research has

shown that when teams are characterized by steeper hierarchies, team members are less likely to learn from member differences (Bunderson, 2003a, 2003b). The negative effect of hierarchy on team performance suggested by these field-based studies may be surprising in light of evidence of the many positive effects of hierarchy: in particular, working in a hierarchical setting can be motivating for some individuals, and hierarchy also has been shown to increase coordination and cooperation (see Ander- son and Brown [2010] and Halevy, Chou, and Ga- linsky [2011] for recent reviews). Given the multi- ple benefits of hierarchical contexts, why have previous field-based findings demonstrated a neg- ative effect of power differences on team learning and performance?

An answer to this question requires an investiga- tion of the micromechanisms by which hierarchy can affect leadership dynamics and team perfor- mance. In this article, we argue that to explain the negative effect that power inequalities can have on team performance, it is necessary to look within teams to understand how power differences affect team interactions and decision-making processes. We therefore set out to investigate, through a series of laboratory studies, how a team leader’s experi- ence of power and level of formal authority affect communication dynamics within the team, team learning, and, ultimately, team performance.

The authors greatly appreciate the support and facili- ties of the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking at the University of Washington and the Center for Deci- sion Research at the University of North Carolina at Cha- pel Hill.


� Academy of Management Journal 2013, Vol. 56, No. 5, 1465–1486. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amj.2011.0180

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Power, leadership, and formal authority—the fo- cal constructs of this article—are closely related. Power refers to an individual’s relative ability to control others’ outcomes, experiences, or behaviors (Keltner, Gruenfeld, & Anderson, 2003; Thibaut & Kelley, 1959). Leadership refers to the process of influencing others to pursue group goals (Bass, 2008; Hogg, 2001; Stogdill, 1950). Formal authority refers to the holding of a specific role or office associated with a social hierarchy (Peabody, 1962). Because power is generally viewed as an important basis of influence (French & Raven, 1959; Lord, 1977), these definitions seem to imply that the con- centration of power in a particular leader (whether in a formal position of authority or not)1 would enhance the ability of that leader to foster high levels of team performance. Specifically, the greater the leader’s power, the more likely he or she is to be able to use that power to elicit desired behaviors from followers. This expectation aligns with functionalist accounts of the role of power on team and organizational performance, which pre- dict a positive effect of hierarchy on performance (Anderson & Brown, 2010). From this perspective, greater leader power increases leader effectiveness and, consequently, team performance.

However, as evidenced by the field-based find- ings described above, there are at least two reasons to suspect that this positive relationship between leader power and team performance may not mate- rialize as often as a functionalist account would predict. First, team processes and outcomes are emergent (Marks, Mathieu, & Zaccaro, 2001). That is, they are not pre-existing entities inherent to a team that are simply waiting to be brought forth by the demands of a powerful leader. Instead, much of the performance that organizations expect of their members is developed through dynamic processes of team interaction (Marks et al., 2001). Team pro- cesses can produce ideas that did not exist prior to the team’s interactions (De Dreu & West, 2001; Ma- thieu, Heffner, Goodwin, Salas, & Cannon-Bowers, 2000). In tasks that require creative problem solv- ing, information sharing, and the integration of viewpoints among team members, leaders cannot simply appeal to their power to elicit performance;

instead, performance must be cultivated by creat- ing a team context that facilitates high levels of performance (Agrell & Gustafson, 1996; Anderson & West, 1998; Drach-Zahavy & Somech, 2001; West, 1990). As a consequence, team performance is de- pendent upon a variety of factors that cannot be directly affected by a leader’s exercise of power.

Second, a leader is not unaffected by his or her own power. Indeed, a broad stream of social- psychological research differentiates between the exercise of power and the psychological experi- ence of power, which refers to a power holder’s subjective feelings of control over the resources, outcomes, and experiences of others. Subjective feelings of power may diverge from the structural power that an individual can objectively be dem- onstrated to hold (Proell & Sauer, 2011). The experience of power can have wide-ranging ef- fects on the cognitions and behavior of a power holder, many of which may challenge a leader’s ability to effectively facilitate team performance. For example, research has demonstrated that the psychological experience of power leads power holders to objectify others (Gruenfeld, Inesi, Ma- gee, & Galinsky, 2008), to be less adept at under- standing the perspectives of others (Galinsky, Magee, Inesi, & Gruenfeld, 2006), to be more likely to stereotype others than to see them as individuals (Fiske, 1993; Goodwin, Gubin, Fiske, & Yzerbyt, 2000; Goodwin, Operario, & Fiske, 1998), and to be less likely to listen to others (See, Morrison, Rothman, & Soll, 2011).

The integration of these two points implies that the concentration of power in a team leader may not have the straightforward and positive ef- fects on team coordination and collaboration that would be expected in a strictly functionalist ac- count of the effects of hierarchy. In particular, we argue that the psychological experience of power by leaders may influence their behavior toward other team members in ways that could threaten a critical determinant of team success: the open ex- change of information within the team. Team com- munication plays a crucial role in facilitating high levels of team performance (Dionne, Yammarino, Atwater, & Spangler, 2004; Gardner, Gino, & Staats, 2012; Smith, Smith, Olian, Sims, O’Bannon, & Scully, 1994). However, we argue that when a for- mal leader experiences a heightened subjective sense of power, he or she tends to dominate group discussions and interactions, which leads other team members to perceive that their views and

1 Throughout this article, we use the term “leader” to refer to any individual attempting to influence a group. We use the terms “formal leader” and “leader in a posi- tion of authority” to refer to an individual who has re- ceived an official title that involves expectations of lead- ership, such as “manager,” “leader,” or “director.”

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perspectives are not valued. Consequently, com- munication and information sharing in the team is limited, and performance is diminished.

However, we contend that this dynamic is de- pendent upon other team members’ tendencies to acquiesce to their leader’s dominant behavior. We argue that team members are only inclined to do so when the leader in question holds a formal position of authority. When the leader does not hold a for- mal position of authority, his or her psychological experience of power is less likely to negatively affect team performance, because the other team members will not defer to the leader’s dominance. Thus, we argue that the nature of the team-level impact of a leader’s subjective experience of power depends on whether the leader holds a formal po- sition of authority that is recognized by team members.

We aim to make three central contributions to organizational research. First, by highlighting the critical role of a formal leader’s subjective expe- rience of power in diminishing perceptions of leader openness and open communication within a team, we answer calls to identify and explain the microprocesses by which power hierarchies can negatively affect team learning and perfor- mance (e.g., Van der Vegt, de Jong, Bunderson, & Molleman, 2010). Second, we highlight the sub- jective sense of power as an important variable in organizational studies. The subjective experience of power is distinct from the structural forms of power often examined in organizational research, but our theorizing and empirical findings indi- cate that the effects of feelings of power, when experienced by an individual in an authority po- sition, go beyond the individual level to affect the perceptions and behaviors of his or her entire team. Third, we contribute to the burgeoning lit- erature on the important role of followers in the leadership process (e.g., DeRue, 2011; Dvir & Shamir, 2003; Grant et al., 2011; Howell & Shamir, 2005) by highlighting the critical role of other team members’ reactions to a leader’s be- havior and demonstrating that the leader’s formal authority moderates these reactions. Specifically, our research demonstrates that, because of the crucial role of team members’ reactions, leaders’ power-prompted dominance behaviors are more likely to negatively affect team performance if the leaders have the legitimacy afforded by holding formal positions of authority.


Open communication within teams is a crucial determinant of team performance (Dionne et al., 2004; Gardner et al., 2012; Guzzo & Dickson, 1996), affecting team productivity (Pearson, 1991), coop- eration (Orbell, van de Kragt, & Dawes, 1988), and innovation (Catmull, 2008; Edmondson, 2003). Drawing on social-psychological research on the effects of power on power holders, as well as on research from political science and sociology on the importance of consent in power dynamics, we propose that a formal leader’s subjective sense of power has detrimental effects on team performance by decreasing the openness of communication within his/her team.

Building on social-psychological research, we suggest two main ways in which the subjective experience of power influences how an individual engages in leadership in team settings. First, the psychological experience of power leads individu- als to be more inclined to express their attitudes and opinions in group contexts (Anderson & Ber- dahl, 2002; Berdahl & Martorana, 2006). Second, individuals who experience increased feelings of power come to devalue the perspectives, opinions, and contributions of others (Georgesen & Harris, 1998; Kipnis, 1972). Individuals who are prone to express their attitudes and opinions, and who feel that their perspectives are more valuable than the perspectives of others, are likely to feel entitled to dominate interpersonal interactions. We therefore expect that leaders with a high subjective sense of power are likely to feel entitled to verbally domi- nate team interactions. Thus, we predict the following:

Hypothesis 1. Formal leaders with a high sub- jective sense of power spend more time talking in team meetings than formal leaders with a neutral subjective sense of power.

This notion aligns with the classic work of Bales and colleagues, who found that early talking in group interactions establishes an individual as a dominant group member and that this early domi- nance tends to perpetuate an individual’s verbal dominance throughout the life of his/her group (Bales, Strodtbeck, Mills, & Roseborough, 1951). As a consequence, Bales and colleagues (1951) found that individuals who engage in early dominant be- havior continue to talk more frequently than indi- viduals who are not dominant in early interactions. Bales’s work focused primarily on how personality

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characteristics predict who will engage in verbal dominance. In contrast, our research focuses on how an individual’s subjective experience of power, which can be altered at any time by social context, prompts these behaviors. In addition, most other previous research on talking in teams has focused on how formal authority is associated with increased talking (see Stein and Heller [1979] for a review), rather than on how an individual’s sense of power affects these behaviors.

Thus, we expect that when an individual expe- riences a high subjective sense of power, he or she is likely to attempt to verbally dominate social in- teractions. We further expect that when this indi- vidual is a formal team leader, the leader’s verbal dominance will be detrimental to team communi- cation. Just as open communication is critical for team effectiveness (Catmull, 2008; Dionne et al., 2004; Edmondson, 2003; Gardner et al., 2012; Guzzo & Dickson, 1996), the openness exhibited by a team’s formal leader is critical for producing open communication within the team. Perceptions of the openness of team communications has been de- fined both at the level of team members’ percep- tions of their team’s formal leader (previously re- ferred to as “leader openness,” here termed “authority openness”) and at the level of team members’ perceptions of their team as a whole (team open communication). Authority openness refers to the extent to which a team’s members feel that the team’s formal leader listens to them, is interested in their perspectives, and considers their ideas (Ashford, Rothbard, Piderit, & Dutton, 1998; Detert & Burris, 2007). Team open communication refers to the extent to which team members feel that the team as a whole tends to listen to each mem- ber’s ideas and encourages and facilitates input from all team members (Barry & Stewart, 1997).

When a formal leader verbally dominates a team’s interaction, the leader signals to others on the team that their perspectives are not valued. Consequently, the dominating behavior elicited by a high subjective sense of power is likely to reduce perceptions of authority openness and diminish

open communication within the team. We thus ex- pect the following:

Hypothesis 2. Teams whose formal leader ex- periences a high subjective sense of power re- port lower levels of communication openness (i.e., authority openness and open communi- cation) than teams whose formal leader expe- riences a neutral subjective sense of power.

Furthermore, since open communication is crit- ical to team effectiveness (Dionne et al., 2004; Gard- ner et al., 2012; Guzzo & Dickson, 1996), we expect that the negative effect of a formal leader’s subjec- tive experience of power on team communication in turn produces a negative effect on team perfor- mance. We therefore hypothesize the following:

Hypothesis 3. Teams whose formal leader ex- periences a high subjective sense of power ex- hibit worse performance than teams whose for- mal leader experiences a neutral subjective sense of power.

This series of predictions converges on the model depicted in Figure 1. Specifically, we expect that when a formal leader experiences a heightened sense of power, the following three-stage sequence ensues: the leader will attempt to verbally domi- nate team interactions, which will hinder commu- nication openness, which in turn will diminish team performance. We therefore hypothesize the following:

Hypothesis 4. The effect of a formal leader’s subjective experience of power on team perfor- mance is mediated in sequence by the formal leader’s amount of talking and by communica- tion openness.

We suggest that the hypotheses above apply only to formal leaders. In particular, we argue that these effects cannot emerge without the consent (implicit or otherwise) of other team members. If a high subjective sense of power encourages these behav- iors on the part of a leader, it is the leader’s formal

FIGURE 1 The Causal Path for the Main Effect of Formal Leader Power on Team Performance

+ Formal Leader Power

Formal Leader’s

Amount of Talking

Authority Openness and

Team Open Communication

Team Performance

– +

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position that permits the effects to spill over to affect his/her entire team.

Formal Authority and the Reactions of Team Members

Sociologists, philosophers, and political scien- tists have long recognized that a critical component of the successful exercise of power and influence is the consent of those individuals affected by it (e.g., Hamilton & Biggart, 1985; Locke, 1689/1988; see Overbeck [2010] for a recent, thorough review). A consent-based view of power holds that, because lower-ranking group members are greater in num- ber than high-ranking members and can form coali- tions, power holders must acquire their consent and support or else risk being overthrown and los- ing their power. We suggest that consent also plays an important role in leadership dynamics in teams. Specifically, we have argued that individuals with a high subjective sense of power are likely to at- tempt to dominate conversations, talking more than other team members. However, they will be able to do so only if other team members permit it—that is, only if other team members yield the floor and do not interrupt the dominating individual. The exercise of verbal dominance thus requires the complicity of other team members.

We suggest that team members are willing to grant this consent to verbal dominance only when their team leader holds a formal leadership posi- tion. When someone holds a high-status position, such as a formal leadership role, the position itself affects expectations about that individual’s behav- ior in group contexts (Ridgeway & Berger, 1986). Specifically, individuals in formal leadership posi- tions are expected to talk more as they coordinate group tasks and to exhibit competency and agency in guiding social interactions (Stein & Heller, 1979). Thus, if a formal leader begins to engage in dominating behavior, other team members are likely to defer to him or her, permitting the verbal dominance as an appropriate and legitimate aspect of this individual’s role. However, if someone who is attempting to lead (i.e., to influence the group) in the absence of a formal leadership position begins to engage in dominating behavior, other team mem- bers are less likely to acquiesce. This perspective suggests that the predicted positive relationship between leaders’ subjective sense of power and their proportion of talking time, as well as the re- sulting reduction in open communication and team performance, are only likely to emerge when lead-

ers hold a formal position of authority. Specifically, if the negative effects of leaders’ experience of power occur because of the increased amount of talking in which powerful leaders engage, and if verbal dominance of conversations requires the consent of others on a team, then these negative effects can only come about when other team mem- bers allow it. We therefore expect that the main effects of power predicted in Hypotheses 1–3 are moderated by leaders’ level of formal authority:

Hypothesis 5. The effect of a team’s leader’ subjective experience of power on the leader’s amount of talking, the level of open communi- cation among team members, and the team’s performance emerge only when the leader holds a formal position of authority.

We also expect that the indirect effect predicted in Hypothesis 4 and modeled in Figure 1 is mod- erated by formal authority. Specifically, we expect that when a leader lacks formal authority, the causal link between power and talking will be bro- ken, eliminating the effect of the leader’s experi- ence of power on team performance. We therefore propose the following first-stage moderated-medi- ation hypothesis:

Hypothesis 6. The indirect effect of a team’s leader’s subjective experience of power on team performance (as mediated in sequence by the leader’s amount of talking and by communication openness) is moderated in the first stage by the leader’s level of formal authority; thus, the indirect path is signifi- cant only when the leader holds a formal position of authority.

In summarizing the rationale behind Hypothe- ses 5 and 6, it is important to emphasize that we do not view the negative effect on team perfor- mance as being constituted by additive effects of power and authority; that is, it is not that power and authority both produce dominance that, when combined, produces even more dominance. In- stead, a leader’s experience of power affects his or her dominance behavior, and the leader’s level of authority affects team members’ reactions to that behavior (i.e., deference). It is the combination of leader behavior (due to power) and team members’ reactions (due to level of authority) that affects team interactions and performance.

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The Moderating Role of Instrumentality Awareness

As mentioned earlier, a key reason we expect leaders’ subjective experience of power to produce verbal dominance is that feelings of power produce a tendency to devalue the perspectives, opinions, and contributions of others (Georgesen & Harris, 1998; Kipnis, 1972). However, this tendency is not absolute. Feelings of power are associated with flexibility in the allocation of social attention, de- pending on the extent to which social targets are instrumental to the achievement of valued goals (Overbeck & Park, 2006). For example, research has indicated that high-power individuals objectify those around them, paying little attention to those whom they consider irrelevant to their goal pursuit, and greater attention to those who can help them achieve their goals (Gruenfeld et al., 2008).

Assuming that a formal leader values his/her team’s performance, this line of reasoning suggests that the negative effect of this leader’s feelings of power on team performance may be eliminated by emphasizing to the leader that team members can make important contributions to the pursuit of team goals and that effective leaders facilitate team performance. When leaders are made aware of oth- ers’ potential contributions and the importance of leaders’ encouragement of those contributions (which may counteract the power-induced bias to devalue others’ input), they are likely to encourage open intrateam communication so that these con- tributions can be revealed. We refer to team mem- bers’ capacity to contribute productively to team performance as team members’ instrumentality. We propose that when leaders perceive team members as instrumental, the effect of power on leader talk- ing is likely to be minimized, because leaders will be more likely to encourage and listen to contribu- tions from others, rather than dominating conver- sation themselves. Consequently, the negative ef- fect of leader power on team open communication is likely to be minimized, thus eliminating the neg- ative effect of leader power on team performance. We therefore predict the following:

Hypothesis 7. The effect of a team’s formal leader’s subjective experience of power on the leader’s amount of talking, the team’s level of open communication, and the team’s perfor- mance are eliminated when the leader is re- minded of the instrumentality of other team members.

Given this, we also expect that the indirect effect predicted in Hypothesis 4 and modeled in Figure 1 is moderated by instrumentality awareness. Specif- ically, we expect that when a leader is reminded of the instrumentality of team members, the causal link between power and talking will be broken, eliminating the effect of the leader’s experience of power on team performance. We therefore propose the following first-stage moderated-mediation hypothesis:

Hypothesis 8. The indirect effect of a team’s formal leader’s subjective experience of power on the team’s performance (as mediated in sequence by the leader’s amount of talking and by the team’s communication openness) is moderated in the first stage by the leader’s awareness of the instrumentality of other team members; thus, the indirect path is significant only when a leader is not reminded that others are instrumental to goal achievement.

Overview of the Present Research

We conducted three studies to test these hypoth- eses. Our studies involved teams of three, four, or six members participating in team decision-making simulations. All three studies employed tasks that required collaborative problem solving. Study 1 was designed to examine the fundamental premise of our arguments: that formal leaders’ experience of power leads to greater amounts of talking in team interactions (Hypothesis 1), which diminishes per- ceptions of authority openness (Hypothesis 2) and consequently negatively affects team performance (Hypotheses 3 and 4). Thus, Study 1 tests the basic model presented in Figure 1. To test these hypoth- eses, in Study 1 we manipulated the level of power subjectively experienced by formal team leaders. In Studies 2 and 3, we sought to replicate and build upon these effects by repeating the tests of the basic model depicted in Figure 1 and then examining our two first-stage moderators of that model (formal authority and instrumentality awareness). In Study 2, we not only examined the effect of a subjective sense of power on formal leadership dynamics but also investigated how a leader’s formal role affected team members’ reactions to him or her. Therefore, in Study 2 we used two manipulations: leader power and formal leadership role. We provided further support for Hypotheses 1–4, and we tested our expectations about the role of formal authority in moderating our focal effects (Hypotheses 5 and

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6). Finally, in Study 3 we again replicated our findings for Hypotheses 1–4 and tested the moder- ating role of formal leaders’ awareness of the instru- mentality of other team members (Hypotheses 7 and 8).


Participants and Design

One hundred six undergraduates and MBA stu- dents at a university in the southeastern United States participated in our study as part of a class exercise. The study employed one between-persons factor: high-power formal leadership vs. neutral- power formal leadership. Each student was ran- domly assigned to one of 20 teams of five members each (six teams had an additional sixth member in the role of observer). Students completed the study within their teams, and the manipulation occurred only to each team’s formal leader.


The day prior to the simulation, students were given instructions for the Everest Simulation devel- oped by Harvard Business School. This web-based simulation uses the context of a Mount Everest expedition to reinforce student learning in team dynamics and leadership. Each team member re- ceived general information about the simulation and detailed information regarding his/her specific role. Students were randomly assigned to one of five roles on a team attempting to reach the moun- tain’s summit: leader, photographer, physician, en- vironmentalist, or marathoner. The simulation oc- curred in six rounds, lasting about 80 minutes in total. During the simulation, students sat in break- out rooms with their teams and analyzed informa- tion on their own laptops while communicating with team members aloud and through the use of chat programs. In each round, team members ana- lyzed information on weather, health conditions, supplies, goals, or hiking speed, and they deter- mined how much of that information to communi- cate to their teammates. Team members then col- lectively discussed whether to attempt to reach the next camp en route to the summit. Throughout the simulation, the team had to decide how to effec- tively distribute supplies and oxygen bottles needed for the ascent. These decisions affected hik- ing speed, health, and ultimately the team’s success in reaching the summit. Failure to accurately com-

municate and analyze information as a team had negative consequences on team performance.

Our manipulation was administered only to stu- dents assigned the formal leader role. In addition to the materials received by other team members, leaders in the teams assigned to the high-power formal leader experimental condition received the power manipulation before receiving the rest of their information packet (formal leaders in the neu- tral power condition did not receive the power manipulation). The high-power manipulation was adapted from previous research (Galinsky, Gruen- feld, & Magee, 2003; Gruenfeld et al., 2008) and, in keeping with our theorizing, was designed to elicit a high level of subjective feelings of power (rather than to manipulate objective or structural power). The instructions in the high-power manipulation read as follows:

Please think about a time when you had power over someone. By power, we mean a situation in which you controlled the ability of another person or per- sons to get something they wanted, or were in a position to evaluate those individuals. Please write 4–5 sentences describing this situation in which you had power.

In addition, formal leaders in this condition were asked to write about how the experience they wrote about could help inform the strategies they would use in team interactions the next day. The timing of the manipulation was important: since formal lead- ers in the high-power condition completed the power writing task before reading the information regarding the details of the simulation, they would be expected to “encode” the information about the simulation in a way that was congruent with their high-power psychological state, so participating in the simulation the next day would in fact reactivate their psychological feelings of power. In keeping with this notion, research by Babcock and Loewen- stein (1997) demonstrated that people selectively encode and evaluate information, depending on their role. Accordingly, we expected that inducing the power experience immediately before the pro- cessing of role information would lead participants to encode their roles in ways that were consistent with the power manipulation, and that the effect of the power manipulation would consequently carry over into their experience the next day, when they acted out the role.

The simulation recorded the level of goals teams were able to achieve, an objective measure of team effectiveness and performance. Students were also

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asked to complete an online survey individually after the simulation was over, at any time before the end of the day. The surveys administered to non- leaders included measures assessing their percep- tions of their leaders’ amount of talking and open- ness. The surveys administered to formal leaders included manipulation checks.


Amount of talking. Participants indicated the percentage of the total time each member talked during the simulation. We investigated the appro- priateness of aggregating this measure to the team level (defined as all team members without a for- mal leader). Interrater reliability among team mem- bers was high (ICC1 � .63, ICC2 � .89, p � .001; mean rwg � .96), justifying aggregation at the team level (LeBrenton & Senter, 2008). Thus, we created an aggregated score for the amount of talking of each team member.

Authority openness. We assessed the perceived openness of the formal leaders by following Grant, Gino, and Hofmann’s (2011) approach. In particu- lar, we adapted items from existing measures of leader openness (Ashford et al., 1998; Detert & Bur- ris, 2007). Team members evaluated their formal leader on five items, using a Likert-type scale (1 � “disagree strongly,” 7 � “agree strongly”): “open to new ideas,” “receptive to suggestions,” “interested in our ideas,” “rejected new ideas” (reverse- scored), and “dismissed suggestions” (reverse- scored) (� � .88, on average, for the ratings of each team member role). Since team members’ ratings demonstrated good interrater reliability (ICC1 � .53, ICC2 � .85, p � .01; mean rwg � .85), we averaged them to compute an overall team-level score for perceived authority openness.

Team performance. The simulation program re- corded the level of goals achieved by each team during the exercise (as a percentage). Higher per- centages indicate higher levels of goal achievement and thus higher levels of team performance.

Manipulation check. To test for the effect of the power manipulation, we asked the formal leaders to indicate the amount of power and influence they personally felt during the simulation (1 � “very little,” 7 � “a great deal”). The two items were highly correlated (r � .71, p � .001), and we thus averaged them into a single measure (� � .82).


Given that six teams had an observer, we con- trolled for team size in all our analyses. Team size was not a significant predictor of any of these re- sults, so we do not discuss this variable further.

Manipulation check. We first checked whether our manipulation was successful by examining the ratings the formal leaders provided regarding the amount of power and influence they felt through- out the simulation. Formal leaders in the high- power condition felt more powerful (mean � 5.50, s.d. � 0.75) than did those in the neutral-power condition (mean � 4.20, s.d. � 0.54, F[1, 17] � 18.91, p � .001).

Amount of talking. Team members reported that their formal leaders talked for a higher percentage of the time allotted for the simulation when the leaders were in the high-power condition (mean � 32.73%, s.d. � 6.63) than when the leaders were in the neu- tral-power condition (mean � 18.70%, s.d. � 2.68, F[1, 17] � 39.93, p � .001). In keeping with this finding, team members reported that nonleaders talked for a lower percentage of the allotted time in the high-power condition than in the neutral-power condition. Thus, Hypothesis 1 was supported.

Authority openness. Members of teams with leaders in the high-power condition reported lower perceptions of openness (mean � 4.84, s.d. � 0.56) than did those with leaders in the neutral-power condition (mean � 5.37, s.d. � 0.43, F[1, 17] � 5.78, p � .05). Thus, Hypothesis 2 was supported.

Team performance. Teams achieved a higher level of their team goals when leaders were in the neutral-power condition (mean � 76.20%, s.d. � 11.92) than in the high power condition (mean � 59.00%, s.d. � 13.12, F[1, 17] � 8.99, p � .01). Thus, Hypothesis 3 was supported.

Mediation analyses. Hypothesis 4 predicts that the negative effect of formal leaders’ subjective feel- ings of power on team performance will be medi- ated by talking and perceptions of authority open- ness (in that order). We therefore examined the three-stage mediated path model, as depicted in Figure 1. To do so, we conducted three regressions, each controlling for team size. We first regressed formal leaders’ amount of talking on power (b � 14.03 [s.e. � 2.22], � � .83, t � 6.32, p � .001); we then regressed authority openness on formal lead- ers’ amount of talking (b � �0.05 [s.e. � 0.01], � � �.76, t � �5.02, p � .001); finally, we re- gressed team performance on authority openness (� � .56, p � .012) and formal leader power

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