Social network research reveals the structure beneath the content of social relations but has neglected the importance of perceptions. My research shows it is the perceived friend that enhances your reputation in an organization rather than the actual friend (Kilduff & Krackhardt, 1994). We over-perceive friendship reciprocation and the extent to which our friends are friends with each other (Krackhardt & Kilduff, 1999). We erroneously perceive people clustered into groups (Kilduff, Crossland, Tsai, & Krackhardt, 2008). These biases affect our leadership (Balkundi & Kilduff, 2005) and the performance of ourselves and others in teams (Brands & Kilduff, in press).
This research has reoriented social network scholarship in organizations toward the micro foundations of social network patterns. Perceptions of networks are important in their own right, but they also have effects on outcomes such as the performance of ourselves and others. If leaders want to harness the energies of their employees, acuity of perception with respect to the social patterns in the workplace is important.
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