Leaders Letter Newsletter

Leaders Letter 118 – The Pratfall Effect

Dear leaders, over the last twelve to thirteen years of my career I have been proactively researching social and cognitive sciences. 

One of the most underrated aspects of leadership is understanding:
(1) what motivates
(2) what discourages
(3) what disconnects and
(4) how to connect with your teams. 

Secret Revealed: Most high-profile CEOs are given a crash course in social psychology and understanding how these effects are vital in creating an environment where their leadership can thrive. 

It’s not a dark art, it is how the majority of us are wired and many leaders and politicians manufacture events to leverage our biases or weaknesses. 

One area that keeps cropping back up is the Pratfall Effect and what makes some leaders likeable even after they have a blunder or make a small mistake and then when others make slightly bigger mistakes they are hated. 

The Pratfall Effect states that people who are considered highly competent are found to be more likeable when they perform an everyday blunder than those who don’t. 

Were you aware of this effect? 

Want a more tangible example, here is one from the US football/soccer Captain:

The Pratfall Effect is actually leveraged a lot in Marketing campaigns, KFC and Oatly (pic above) have been super smart with their campaigns when they’ve made a mistake or have been seen as strategically slipping up. 

I am not suggesting creating or engineering an event to make you more likeable, (although many do), I am suggesting this can be the difference between one leader or manager being really well-liked and respected and others struggling to have the same influence or impact. 

I believe The Pratfall Effect is a key component of company culture and leadership, especially when it takes micro-moments to stand out in people’s minds and connect with people’s hearts. 

Q: Do you think you make a small mistake and people will resonate and like you more? Or do you think this will negatively impact how you are perceived? 

In the coming days, keep an eye out for the Pratfall Effect and how people react, you might well be surprised by how much of the effect you see. 

Thanks and have a great week,  

Danny Denhard