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Updated: Tue, 11 Oct 2011 00:00:00 GMT | By Deborah Aarts, PROFIT magazine

Instant MBA: Integration and the power paradox

The "I" in team


Most CEOs believe there's value in assembling cross-functional teams of star players. Most also know the frustration of getting these talented individuals to work as an effective group. A new working paper from Heidi Gardner and Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and Bradley Staats of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests an answer. They found that when teams develop the capacity to draw out one another's strengths, they perform much better.

That capability comes from three interrelated factors: relational (that is, inter-team familiarity), experiential (the group's collective work experience and training) and structural (how relational and experiential resources are divided among team members). Looking to strike the perfect balance? Note that more experience does not necessarily yield a more integrated group. In fact, the researchers found that high tenure among team members often detracts from overall group performance, since such veterans tend to be slower to share knowledge with one another than their greener counterparts are.

The power paradox
If you worry that your impulsiveness is a blemish on your leadership profile, take heart in the recent findings of researchers at the University of Toronto's and Northwestern University's management schools.

Their studies show that people in positions of great influence tend to lack inhibition. Power, the researchers found, triggers the same carefree behaviour as both intoxication (picture a drunk's proclivity to flirt) and anonymity (think of a nameless web surfer's willingness to post inflammatory comments online).

Whether a powerful person exerts her lack of inhibition in a positive or negative way depends largely on her underlying disposition or motives; if she fundamentally supports a project, for instance, she's not going to make a rash choice that might sabotage it.

Not reassured? Keep in mind that external factors-especially those that further quash inhibitions, such as the aforementioned alcohol and anonymity-can compound impulsive behaviour. So, the next time you want to keep a level head, it's probably smart to stay sober and keep your name tag on.

Information is current as of the original date of publication.

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