The research indicates that empathy can decrease as power and control increase. This has particular relevance to leadership. The dynamic plays out when we see leaders sincerely unconscious of how their exertion of control over people directly influences the very behaviors they seek to punish. When adults feel others work overtime to control them, they are likely to become:
- Inconsistently (inauthentically) compliant
- Emotionally and psychologically disengaged
- Defensive and change-resistant
- Unlikely to learn from experience
- Inconsiderate to peers & cliquish
- Entitled and narcissistic
Of course every human being is capable of these behaviors, however they become more likely with controlling leaders. By definition, controlling leaders grow blind spots that make them literally unable to see this dynamic until they take time to personally discover its realities and costs. This is the first step to learning how to shift to a more skillful approach to leadership.