Everyone admires generosity, it is considered a virtue and a worthy facet of anyone’s character. And in times of peace and non-competitive situations individuals want their leaders to demonstrate generosity, that is contributing to the public good.
However, in certain circumstances – in tough and competitive times – generous leaders can be seen as weak leaders. And so when the going gets rough, individuals prefer leaders who are less altruistic and less willing to demonstrate generosity.
Academics Nir Halevy, acting assistant professor of organisational behaviour at Stanford Graduate School of Business along with Robert Livingston, an assistant professor of management and organisations at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University looked at status and how a leader is viewed by a group. they identified two aspects of an individual’s status – prestige and dominance. Prestige status was conferred on “saintly” individuals such as Mother Theresa, whereas Al Capone was deemed to have a dominant status.
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