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Power Doesn’t Corrupt. It Just Exposes Who Leaders Really Are

Adam Grant: In one experiment, psychologists set up an annoying fan so that it would blow in people’s faces. The participants’ odds of moving it away, turning it off, or unplugging it spiked from 42 percent to 69 percent if they had just written about a time when they had power. In other experiments, when people were reminded of feeling powerful, they were more likely to express their own opinions and ideas instead of conforming to others. And when they were assigned the role of manager rather than subordinate before a negotiation, they were more likely to bargain their own way instead of adapting to an opponent’s style. Power disinhibits us. It releases us from the shackles of social pressure. Gaining influence and authority frees us up to act on our real wishes and show our true colors.

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