What are the bases of social power? How do effective leaders use their power? It has been said that the social use of power by leaders is a topic that has much in common with the topic of romantic love. You may recognize it as a potent force in your social life, or you may talk about it in everyday language, or ponder its meaning. In this paradigm, researchers see power use as being affected by organizational contexts and point to hierarchical status systems as causal factors. Additionally, leaders’ personal qualities, such as core values like authority relations and dependency habits, are a part of this paradigm. Once social system factors such as organizational culture and social justice perceptions are included, you will begin to see why empowerment is often posed as a simplistic solution to problems when it is in fact the result of a fascinating complex of many different processes in an occupational setting.
As you interact with your colleagues this week, think about whether there can be harmful aftereffects to the overuse or abuse of power. What describes the true sharing of power in a high-stakes organizational environment?
Whether one looks in western cultures or in eastern cultural resources, the earliest writings can be said to be accounts of the heroic journeys or experiences of our moral leaders. Even ancient Greek philosophy, not normally associated with one religion or another, espouses the desirability of the “philosopher king,” who by superior intellect leads in a moral fashion. In contrast, there has never been a universal agreement on what the ideal leadership trait might be. How can you best understand the differences in leaders’ characteristics? If there is no one best way to lead, then is there one best characteristic for each particular situation for leadership? In the 20th century, a number of contingency theories attempted to match individual traits with specific leadership situations or contexts. This argument could be put simply by saying that no leadership trait was all-important but that didn’t mean that traits or individual qualities were unimportant either; they just had to be understood in their context. More recently, our ideas of traits have expanded beyond motivations or personality factors. Individual difference factors such as gender have been hotly debated.
What about diversity factors like gender and/or ethnicity: do they interact with traits or skills to help us understand leadership?
By the end of this week, you will be able to:
- Distinguish among social bases of power, social influence attempts, and authority models as paradigms
- Analyze the organization bases for expertise and delegation
- Measure outcomes of power assertion, and how it relates to social change
- Evaluate differences in leadership styles
- Assess emotional intelligence as a skill set for power and influence
- Apply contingency theories of leadership effectiveness