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Post Leadership
Posted at 09:36 AM ET, 07/19/2012

White men, the ‘cheater’s high’ and other interesting leadership research from the week


(istock)
A look at some of the most interesting leadership research from the last week:

Wanted: More white men: What your organization’s leadership training program really needs isn’t necessarily more money or more support from the CEO. It’s the cooperation of more white men, reports Catalyst, the nonprofit focused on women’s advancement in the workplace. In a study released July 18, Catalyst surveyed employees of the engineering company Rockwell Automation about the impact of diversity and leadership training programs geared specifically toward white men. After the programs were completed, Catalyst found a range of positive results, including a 39-percent decline in workplace gossip and a 17-percent increase in managers willing to admit inequities exist.

All too often, we rely on women and minorities to be the diversity cheerleaders in an organization. But as Catalyst President & CEO Ilene Lang said in the release about the study: “The results are much more powerful when white men, who are most often in leadership positions, are also role models.”

The secret of their success: Maybe there’s a reason we keep hearing about so many scandals in the financial industry. A survey released July 10 by whistleblower law firm Labaton Sucharow found that 24 percent of 500 senior executives in the U.S. and the U.K. said they believed financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct in order to be successful. Meanwhile, 16 percent of the executives said they would commit insider trading if they could get away with it, while nearly 30 percent said their compensation plans pressured them to violate ethical standards or the law.

While some understandably questioned all the coverage and credibility of such a survey being done by a “whistleblower” law firm, the numbers are still alarming: More than one in four respondents (and keep in mind these are senior execs) indicated they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace. 

Still, it’s not all about the Benjamins: Money may be the big reason people commit fraud or violate ethics. That said, a new study finds that a “cheater’s high” might have something to do with it, too. While we may think that cheating prompts us to feel guilt or shame, the immediate response is more like exhilaration, report researchers from the University of Washington, London Business School, Harvard Business School and the Wharton School in a paper to be presented at the Academy of Management conference in early August.

In a series of six laboratory studies, the researchers found that people experience the so-called cheater’s high even when someone cheats on their behalf or simply when they are suspected of cheating. True, we may not have needed a research study to tell us this. But it could help remind us that no matter how much leaders change monetary incentives, it’s unfortunately still human nature that doing bad sometimes feels good.

More from On Leadership:

Why ‘work-life balance’ doesn’t work

Study: Companies with conservative leaders pay more taxes

How to completely destroy an employee’s work life

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By  |  09:36 AM ET, 07/19/2012

Tags:  research, leadership, workplace

 
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