Last updated: June 16, 2019
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Leadership and Power.

Introduction.

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Capability to manage a team effectively is one of the main qualities which any employee seeking success needs to possess. However, the position of a leader requires many outstanding skills, and it may be very challenging at times. According to Sun Tzu, Chinese General who lived in the 5th century B.C., “when one has all 5 virtues together: intelligence, trustworthiness, humanness, courage, sternness, each appropriate to its function, then one can be a leader”. The combination of these qualities can very rarely be seen in people’s characters, therefore not everybody can be a good leader. Leadership means the ability to influence other people and guide them to the success. During many centuries it has been believed that the key to success in a team lies in the skills of the manager. No company can remain on top unless it has an outstanding manager who guides it into the right direction.

Oftentimes, problems in the company arise because the manager is unable to coordinate the work of the team effectively, and performance decreases. The leader might turn out punitive, mistrustful, wily and power hungry. Some researchers argue that this type of leader is very common nowadays, and answers the expectations of reality. For example, Peters argued that “in the political, business world, effective leaders are: symbol conscious, dictatorial about the dream and narrow-minded.” They put their personal power ahead of their major functions of serving the interests of the company. They are power-hungry, and climb on top of the organizational ladder using any possible means. Is that really true that such leaders are the only effective type for the present society, or there are other types of leaders who could be more efficient? In the research, we are going to answer those questions and determine the leadership style which is the most appropriate for the present society.

The issue of leadership is very connected with the issue of power. There is a strong belief that in the modern world, people become weaker and weaker when they see the light of power, and eventually resign to it. As Abraham Lincoln stated, “nearly all men can stand the test of adversity, but if you really want to test a man’s character, give him power”. If in previous epochs the test of power was passed by many leaders, nowadays there are more and more cases when leaders fail. They forget about their functional roles as managers because greed turns out a much stronger feeling.

Leadership styles and power in management theories.

Nowadays, most scientists define leadership as a function of management:  “The managerial function of leading is defined as the process of influencing people so that they will contribute to organization and group goals” (Koontz and Weihrich, 1988 p. 392). However, there are points of view that “leadership as a higher order or capability than management: leader is an individual within an organization who is able to influence the attitudes and opinions of others within the organization; a manager is merely able to influence their actions and decisions” (Byars, 1987, p. 159). According to Peter Drucker, “managers are people who do things right (efficiency); leaders are people who do the right things (effectiveness).” (Bjerke, 1999, p.57). Therefore, leaders do not take power as the primary goal; they put the outcome of their teams as their major objective.

Different theories were created in order to analyze the issue of leadership and come up with different types of leaders. Barnes and Kriger have developed the theory according to which “three different approaches to understanding leadership exist: the leader as a hero-person; leadership as a set of personal attributes; contingency theories of leadership (Barnes and Kriger, 1986, p. 15).

The leader as a hero person is one of the most popular types of leaders. All of the qualities which represents are approved by the majority of people. All of his actions are perceived with awe, and he has many followers. Employees try to do things similar to their leaders, they take most of the things which he says for granted, and performance is usually very high in such teams. A leader as a hero-person is common for many spheres of life: for example, in business he is represented by Donald Trump, and there is no wonder that people watch the show “Apprentice” and would like to participate in it. Another example of a hero-person as a leader is a monarch in previous centuries, for example Richard the Lionheart. People were going to follow the monarch anywhere he guided them; feasts and celebrations were held when monarch’s child was born; people would give their lives for their leader.

Hero-people are usually the most powerful type of leaders, they can raise their followers to do anything in their name. However, hero-leaders are not the type of leaders who put their own power as the primary goal. Hero-leaders are so much loved by their followers because they have the same goals with people who follow them.

As Deal and Kennedy state, “the impact of heroes in business is represented in six dimensions:

omaking success attainable and human;

oproviding role models;

osymbolizing the company to the outside world;

opreserving what makes the company special;

osetting a standard of performance;

omotivating employees” (Deal and Kennedy, 1988, pp. 39-41).

The choice of the leadership style is very important for managing a team. Such styles include “considerate, structuring, autocratic, democratic, laissez-faire and the like” (Bjerke, 1999, p.57). Some authors determine supporting, directive, coercive, transformational leadership styles. The most efficient styles in the majority of companies are democratic and supportive styles, but for some types of situations autocratic and directive styles might be appropriate. For example, when the manager wants to set direct goals for the employees and make them increase their performance, it can be appropriate to use directive style. The choice of the style mainly depends on the environment in the organization and the goals which it needs to achieve. Autocratic and directive styles can sometimes represent some danger of managers becoming power-oriented. When managers care only about their own power, they tend to choose those 2 styles of leadership.

It is well-known that leadership styles can be oriented on the performance of the team or on the concern about employees. Blake and Mouton (1964) have introduced a grid in which they identified the main styles of leadership according to those 2 characteristics. Orientation on the performance of the team means that the manager is very concerned about the results which they are going to have in the end of the period, the extent to which goals will be met. Orientation on people means that the leader will pay lots of attention to maintaining trust in the company, establishing warm relations with all the employees, giving them only appropriate tasks and motivating them. Blake and Mouton have come up with several types of managers based in their grid.

“Under the style referred to as ‘impoverished management’, managers concern themselves very little with either people or results and have minimum involvement in their jobs.” (Bjerke, 1999, p.59). Such managers usually do not achieve good results because they show minimum concern about the activity of the company. “Team leaders”, on the contrary, manage to combine both concern about people and achieve great performance of the company.

“Another style is management called country club management, in which managers have little or no concern for results but are concerned only for people.” (Bjerke, 1999, p.59). Such companies might not have great results because employees will not be working to the fullest. “Autocratic task managers are concerned only with developing an efficient operation, who have little or no concern for people and who are quite autocratic in their style of leadership.” (Bjerke, 1999, p.59).

None of the represented styles can be identified as a pure power-oriented style. However, “autocratic” manager and “impoverished” manager are the most possible candidates for that. “Autocratic” manager cares only about performance, and he might use the performance of his employees in order to climb the business ladder. “Impoverished” manager is very narrow-minded. He does not care about the performance or people in his team, so his only goal might be occupying the high position which he has.

Leadership in the New Era.

The types of leaders described above were very common for the previous century in which the speed of life was not as high as it is nowadays. Major transformations which have happened in the world during the last years have created new requirements of efficient management. “Every social system requires and produces leaders, who have a function in that system” (Guarrero, 1998, p. 1).

The new society is merciless to the weak. Every day, companies go bankrupt because they were unable to pay their debts and their expectations for high returns did not come true. People get fired for small mistakes because there are thousands of other candidates on their position. Kind and considerate people rarely become managers because they refuse to go against their morals and values. Those who want to succeed have to fight for that. This is the philosophy of the 21st century, and nothing can be changed about it. Therefore, this epoch requires a leadership style which is adequate for the reality.

“Every epoch in history is asking for its own type of leadership as an expression of existing values in society. In medieval society, leadership was built into social institutions and by religion. In industrial society, leadership had a major role in planning and supervising work- technological rationalism was combined with patriarchal values. In information society, discussion is very much about people looking for charismatic leaders who can provide meaning in life and reduce modern uncertainties at the same time as social structures become more horizontal, and time as well as distance is disappearing.” (Steiner and Miner, 1986, pp. 61-62).

The information society in which we live does not let some types of leaders to exist. As we mentioned about, some managers are concerned about people and about their performance. This approach does not work nowadays. One does not stay a manager for a long time if he does not represent adequate performance of his group. There will be many other people willing to occupy his place, and eventually top managers will substitute this person. Nowadays, few managers care about employees as much as they did before. For them to stick to their position, they need to meet some expectations of the top management. As long as they do that, they keep their place. If they make a mistake, they will lose their job. Of course, this is not the case in some companies because there are some exceptions. Some leaders manage to combine both concern about their employees with high performance. They motivate their employees in such a way that performance increases. This is the perfect leader description; in reality we do not see them very often.

Managers who are concerned only about power are very common nowadays. One can find such examples in almost every organization. As Tom Peters stated, such managers are “punitive, mistrustful, wily and power hungry”. They do not motivate employees and have qualities which make them unable to manage the teams efficiently. Leaders of this type only care about their own promotion and their own power. At the same time, they might also care about the performance of the organization very much for them to get more and more power. Such managers do not care about the needs of employees. “[There is] a strong case for matching managers in charge of businesses, and their styles, as closely as possible with the strategic demands of the business” (Steiner and Miner, 1986, pp. 61-62).

Whenever a possibility of some great contract opens, such leaders can sacrifice their employees in the name of it. The manager will go home after the end of the working day but he will tell his employees to work on the project in the office until they finish it, even though it might take a couple sleepless nights- almost like in the fairy-tale about Cinderella! The power-oriented manager will not care that employees might fall sick after working so hard. All he will care about will be the contract. “It appears that where a company faces intense competition in its environment, the chief executive officer not only utilizes a more participative style in decision-making but also introduces more control to be sure the delegated decisions are carried out as intended”. (Steiner and Miner, 1986, pp. 61-62).

Power-oriented managers usually do not have very high moral values and prefer getting additional power to getting respect from people. One of the examples of such a leader is Joseph Stalin in Soviet Union. In order to ensure his power could not be destroyed, he ordered many brilliant scientists and generals killed. He thought that they represented some danger to him because they could turn out more brilliant than him. So, he sacrificed them in the name of their power. The same situation oftentimes happens nowadays in companies. Managers feel competition from some employees because they are brilliant and have very good skills. Therefore, they might not appoint those people on important positions. They do not care that this will decrease the performance of the team. All such leaders are concerned about is their power, and they want to keep it at any price.

The issue of trust is a very important aspect of teams with power-oriented managers. In the ideal team, the leader is supposed to trust all of his employees, and employees are supposed to trust him. This kind of connection is very important to establish for great performance of the team. “Trust is the foundation of a healthy work environment in which staff efforts are focused on productive endeavors rather than on protecting, doubting, checking, and inspecting. In a workplace that engenders trust, employees have the confidence to be creative and take necessary risks. The more people trust themselves and others and the more they trust the environment they operate in, the more creative and effective they will be and, consequently, the more successful they – and their organization – can become.” (Guarrero, 1998, p.1).

However, trust issue is completely neglected in the team with a power-oriented leader. Such a leader does not do anything to establish warm relations with the members of the team. Even if he pretends to do that, he only does that for his own needs. This type of leader is mainly mistrustful and checks all the employees’ activities very carefully. The roots of his mistrust are in his desire to keep the power in his hands. He is afraid that his trust might be completely ruined, and his employees will put him a stab in the back. He wants to prevent that and expects problems even when there are none,

In such teams, employees are usually motivated very poorly because they are constantly checked. They realize that their decisions do not matter because the manager is going to take his way in any situation. Employees usually get unmotivated, and their performance decreases rapidly. For employees to perform at their maximum, they need openness in the organization, possibility to express their ideas and make some of the decisions on their own. When all the power is concentrated only in the hands of the manager, employees do not have any need to show high results.

Steps of Building a Winning Team.

Even though the power-oriented mistrustful manager is very common for organizations nowadays due to the requirements of the reality, this is not the only efficient type. Some organizations have succeeded in introducing who combine all the necessary qualities which help him to survive in the changeable environment. One of the examples is Procter and Gamble in which most of the important positions are occupied by very skilled managers who care both about the performance of the company and about the employees. They are very goal-oriented but at the same time they are not guided by desire for pure power. We are going to suggest a few basic steps of building a winning team in the information epoch.

One of the main keys to the success of organization is the right choice of the leader in it who will be able to make the team work efficiently, and achieve maximum performance. It’s very important for the leader to take into consideration the relations which exist within the organization, and carry out decisions which are based on the characteristic features of team members. The most important task of the leader is to merge with the team he or she is managing, understand the needs of every member, his psychology, and with that knowledge develop different strategies of stimulating every member. The performance of the organization in many ways depends on the skills of the leader, and his skills are crucial in the efficient functioning of the company.

The task of the leader is to manage the team in such a way that all the skills which the members of the team possess turn out applied at their maximum. This task is very complicated because “building the winning team requires more than just hiring a bunch of talented people. It means hiring people who will work well together. It means developing a shared vision and commitment. It means physically bringing people together in formal group meetings for open discussion of broad-based issues. It means encouraging positive, informal interactions between group members. It means instilling a “winning” attitude throughout the organization. It means watching for and quickly trying to reverse team-building problems such as jealousy, cynicism, and defensive behavior.” (Building a winning team. Retrieved on March 16th from source: www.businesstown.com).

The team needs to know that they are managed by a strong leader who is able to guide them to the success. They need to feel the leader through all the activities which are being provided in the company.

The most important issue in managing the team is choosing the right form of motivation for them. Since all people are different, all the employees in the team need different forms of motivation. For some employees, only money works, and they don’t get motivated by any other benefits. For others, there is nothing more important than social recognition of their efforts. Other employees will care about the possibilities of future promotion in case of their successful performance. Therefore, in order to manage the team effectively, the first task to do is to define where the needs of employees fall in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Ambitious employees have a very high need of esteem. They need to be praised for the work they do, get recognition from senior-level management, be aware about the possibilities of their future promotion, and fulfill tasks which require lots of responsibility, like consulting the largest and the most important clients of the company. These employees are usually very experienced in the field, they have already made large contributions into the company’s success, and therefore they can be motivated only through getting more and more complicated tasks to fulfill. Those members of the team who are not as success-oriented and not as experienced can be motivated by money awards and praise for his work because their needs fall into the category of belonginess and love.

The next step of successful management of the team is defining relationships between employees, and making a sociogram which identifies the types of interactions within the social network. Without the knowledge of interactions between the employees, there is no way to manage the team effectively. In order to manage the members of the team, it’s useful at times to apply the approach of influencing some members of the team through other members. It is necessary to identify the member of the team who has the strongest influence on other members because teams are usually aligned to such employees.

Conclusion.

Leadership and power have become very close concepts nowadays. In the information era we live in, many managers get tested by power and fail this test. Instead of trying to combine their care about employees and goals of organization, they are only guided by power. They climb the company’s ladder without looking back at those who were helping them to get to the new step. Such managers are very mistrustful and they can sacrifice anything in the name of power. Sometimes, they can even sacrifice organization’s goals if this will help them to remain in power. Such leaders are very poor managers and their employees might be performing only because of fear of getting fired. They are not motivated by the leader.

Even though our epoch has made leaders to strive for survival, it does not mean that an efficient leadership style cannot be introduced. Orientation mainly on power cannot be the goal of the leader because he will eventually fail in something. If such a leader keeps sacrificing people in the name of promotion, one day he will appear in the same situation. Much more efficient is to consider ways to motivate employees and make their performance higher, without such a concentration on the power issue.

The most important step of managing the team is choosing the leadership style. In order to manage the team effectively, the leader can apply the following styles when managing the team: supporting, directive, coercive, “transformational leadership” styles. Each of them has special recommendations for usage in different situations. For example, supporting and “transformation leadership” styles are very efficient in situations when a new leader comes into the organization, and seeks to establish warm relations with all the members of the team. Directive and coercive styles can work only in the teams which welcome this style and are ready to fulfill all the management’s assignments. However, nowadays such employees are quite rare, therefore, in my work, it’s necessary to combine the styles. The leader should be supportive in many situations but he should also be directive in certain issues when he knows that he is providing the most efficient policy.

It’s very difficult to make the team function effectively, but this task can be achieved through the right choices of employees’ motivation and leadership style. Information ear in which we live now requires a leader with good communication skills, able to provide success-oriented policy, capable of solving all the possible problems which may arise in the team.

 

 

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