Myths About Leadership
Leadership is one of the least understood concepts (despite the fact that it is part of all cultures and civilizations), and there are many damaging myths associated with it. Let’s explore one more of these myths before we really get into the concept of Leader Power.
Myth: Leadership = having power over others
Fact: Leaders can have power, and leadership itself is a form of power BUT it is not power over people. Instead, it is a power that exists as a function of a relationship between leaders and followers. 1Forsyth. (2009). Group dynamics (5th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.
This is one of the most damaging myths and causes some people to have immediate negative reactions to the idea and concept of leadership. Leadership does not have to involve domination, manipulation or coercion (though it can).
In 1959, French and Raven, two social psychologists, identified 5 sources of leader power which still apply today. These bases can help us answer questions we have about different leaders and how the leadership triangle forms when they are involved. 2French, J. R., & Raven, B. (2001). The bases of social power. Modern classics of leadership, 2, 309-326.
For another way to look at this, try this graphic put together by a blogger with a passion for risk management. 3Jaspal, S. (2013, August 30). Impact of Power Styles on Organization Risks. Retrieved from Sonia Jaspal’s RiskBoard: http://soniajaspal.wordpress.com/2013/08/
According to Patrick J. Montana and Bruce H. Charnov, the ability to attain powers is what enables leaders to influence followers (by controlling resources they have sourced from the environment). Ok, that sounds confusing. Let’s see if a diagram helps. 4Montana, P. J., & Charnov, B. H. (2008). Leadership: Theory and Practice. In P. J. Montana, & B. H. Charnov, Management (p. 253). Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=yJIQ2XGhneUC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA253#v=onepage&q&f=false
So, as the Follower bubbles are attracted to the Leader bubbles, the successful leader effectively uses powers and resources to influence employees. In this way, the authors endorse the powers we previously discussed but also distinguish the following types of organizational power: