Opinions of Powerful People

 FreeImages.com/Ike Gomez

FreeImages.com/Ike Gomez

Several years ago, Adam Galinsky, a researcher at Columbia Business School concluded that the more power a person obtains, the more their ability to see varying perspectives diminishes. Through a series of social experiments Galinsky discovered that feeling more powerful causes us to anchor on our own opinions rather than others.

One of the causes for this is the fact that powerful people tend to have more resources available to them. They have certain comforts that afford them the luxury to be careless with their thoughts and actions because they are less incentivized to take the perspectives of others. Another cause for not taking other perspectives is the fact that powerful people are often too busy to stop and truly consider the perspectives of others. This is especially true when rushing through life and trying to consider the lifestyle differences of those unlike their own.

Whether it's for social justice, political movements, or commenting on a favorite subject people with power and celebrity status are more often careless with their thoughts and actions. Meanwhile the entire public gets in a tizzy over a social media post or a sound bite on the news from well know people because those without power want to ride the coat tails of the powerful. In turn, the weak begin to feel more powerful living vicariously through the powerful until we are all entrenched in our own views and opinions.

It's not that powerful people don't have good opinions and valuable insight on different perspectives, they can and do. However, responsible people should be careful to consider everyone's perspectives equally whether they're are in a position of power or not. A celebrity can too easily use his or her platform to persuade others from seeing multiple perspectives and therefore sharing their views is more often irresponsible than not.

We've all experienced those relationships where people rise in power and influence and as they rise, they become less humble and more dogmatic with their approaches. Good leaders maintain perspective and are willing to change their minds. It takes courage for a leader to do this and it should be commended when it happens rather than berate them for "flip-flopping."


Pittampalli, Al. Persuadable: How Great Leaders Change Their Minds to Change the World. New York: Harper Business, 2016. 145-47. Print.