To rise in your career, having right connections with high-performing bosses in any industry is a must in today’s scenario but this will not take you far if you are not competent enough, researchers report. The global team of researchers found that the career outcomes of junior coaches in the US National Football League (NFL) promoted in a given year show that those with high-reputation connections fare worse in the long term than those without connections.
Working with a highly reputable corporate leader helps managers get promoted to senior positions in the short term. But such a career boost is balanced in the longer term as competitive job markets, including professional sports, punish those managers who initially benefited, the authors noted. “We are reassured that the market corrects for any injustice in giving some people a ‘leg up’ initially,” said professor Martin Kilduff, chair of organisational behaviour at University College London (UCL).
So in this case, the rich do not get richer. In an uncertain world, people trust endorsements from legendary top managers concerning who to hire. “But this effect quickly dissipates. After the initial promotions, the pattern of subsequent promotions and demotions favours those who missed out on the initial advantageous placement but who nevertheless got ahead through merit,” Kilduff pointed out.
For the results, the team from UCL, University of Notre Dame, The Pennsylvania State University and University of Texas at Austin looked at the career outcomes for all coaches in the NFL across a 31-year period from 1980 to 2010. From studying the career paths of 1,298 coaches, the scientists found that junior coaches with connections to highly reputable head coaches are 525 more likely to receive a promotion to another team in any given year compared to those with no connections.
“This suggests promotions are solely linked to the connection and not to the potential for knowledge transfer between head coaches and their juniors,” the authors emphasised. But the career outcomes of junior coaches promoted in a given year showed they fared worse in the long term when merit and talent came into play. The study was published in the Academy of Management Journal.