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If you’re a new supervisor, is “bossy” better?

Last month’s issue of Harvard Business Review had an interesting article by Stephen Sauer, a business school professor at Clarkson University in New York. You can read the whole article here, but in a nutshell, Sauer puts forward that if you are a manager that’s new to a position, you will be more successful if you are bossy and tell others what to do, rather than being collaborative.

On the basis of two experiments, Sauer suggests that rookie managers are often perceived as having low status – because of age, education or experience – and so when they ask for input, they can be seen to lack in confidence. However, when they tell others what to do, they are viewed as more confident. Interestingly enough, the opposite occurs with experienced managers. When veteran managers give orders, they are viewed as less confident and less effective, suggesting that collaborative leadership is for those who have a past positive track record in leadership.

What do you think? Do you think Sauer has it right? Should those new to a leadership position be more “bossy”?

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