In early 1997, Robert L. Crandall infuriated a lot of flyboys and flygirls. The chairman and CEO of American Airlines accepted a substantial pay raise at the same time that he voted to cut pilots’ pay. In response, the pilots’ union called a strike, and President Bill Clinton had to intervene to quell the unrest.

Crandall’s actions are a classic example of a powerful person failing to take the perspectives of others, says Adam D. Galinsky, a professor at Northwestern University’s...

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