Power and Lleadership: the Intangible Illusion of Control

However, inherited power, such as that which is passed from one generational leader to the next, is largely non-contingent on a leader’s personal attributes; instead, focusing clearly on the retention of power itself. A prime, modern-day example would be Kim Gong-UN assuming his father’s position in North Koreans alleged democracy (generally providing a single candidate on voter ballots) in which citizens may vote against a candidate, but yet have but a single choice?which must be done publicly, and would result in the voter being identified and labeled as a traitor. Therefore, in some cases, power supersedes dervish.

In other words, while all good leaders may have power, all who have power may not be good leaders. Morehouse (2010) takes a closer look at this concept, comparing assigned versus emergent leadership. Tipping the scales toward the more widely researched topic of power, Morehouse refers to French and Raven’s 1959 work which explored the basis of social power. Emergent from their efforts was the concept of five unique bases of power: referent, expert, legitimate, reward, and coercive (Leadership, Theory and Practice). However, some have challenged popular concepts, stating that power itself is but an illusion.

At any rate, there can be no leadership without a follower counterpart. According to Morehouse (2010), “The concept of power is related to leadership because it is part of the influence process… People have power when they have the ability to affect others” (Leadership, Theory and Practice, IPPP). So what is power, exactly, and how is it obtained, maintained, or lost? Let us explore. Power and Leadership… While all good leaders may have power, all who have power may not be good leaders. Again, leadership is contingent on having followers?without followers, there can be no viable leadership.

In addition, power, as it relates to leadership is quite subjective to which definition of the term leadership is being considered. Morehouse (2010) presents two distinctive versions of leadership? or at least two specific definitions: the trait definition and the process definition. The trait definition attributes certain personal characteristics as being synonymous to all leaders regardless of venue or genre, and having ageless application without much wiggle-room to consider vertically- challenged exceptions such as Napoleon Bonaparte, James Madison, and Doll Hitler.

Other assumptions, such s those proposed by Mann (1959), and Lord, Advert, and Alleged (1 986), allege that leaders must (or should) be masculine?which, in my opinion, is an equally ridiculous notion (i. E. Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton). Perhaps such physical traits such as height and masculinity were considered regarding a follower’s conception of what a leader should be?physically, and otherwise?and while there may be no leader without followers, be mindful that followers do not always have an inherent luxury of choice. Hence, we must disassociate, at least to some degree, leadership from power.

As Morehouse suggests, leadership may be either assigned or emergent, as certain leaders are assigned their roles rather than emerging from the ranks of followers; therefore potentially minimizing the importance of personal characteristics. Ultimately, how leadership itself is defined, whether by trait or process theory, affects the parameters of leadership selection?if selection is even an option. Below is a modified version of the Trait versus Process Model found on page 05 in the Morehouse leadership theory and practice publication.

Power and Leadership.. 2 TRAIT LEADERSHIP I Leader [*extroversion Lithographers [*weightlifters *fluency Followers Followers I PROCESS LEADERSHIP I [*intelligence [*other traits (Interaction) As it can be determined through implicit interpretation of the model above, personal characteristics are not the focal point of process leadership? which can be rather circumstantial in nature, and contingent on relationships established between leaders and followers (Morehouse, 2010).

However, both the trait and process models assume that followers have some degree of influence in choosing a leader?either through their direct approval or through varied interactions. Again, many followers are without choice or influence in regards to deader selection. Therefore, there exists no cut-and-dry, straight-shot formula to obtaining power. According to Morehouse (201 0), “The concept of power is related to leadership because it is part of the influence process. Power is the capacity or potential to influence.

People have power when they have the ability to affect others’ beliefs, attitudes, and courses of action” (Leadership, Theory and Practice, IPPP). As this definition suggests, power is not limited to politics and governance, it can be held by all who have the ability to influence others. 3 Many good examples may be found in mainstream media, where film and elevation stars support personal agendas; i. E. Tom Cruise and the Church of Cosmetology, or Charlie Sheen and the 9/11 truth movement, to name but a few modern examples. At any rate, leader power is not always granted by followers.

However, leadership is a form of power that often has a profound effect on followers. Morehouse presents the Five Bases of Power, in which he cites the works of French and Raven’s 1959 studies on social power. The Five Bases of Power are as follows: * Referent Power * Expert Power * Legitimate Power * Reward Power * Coercive Power Of these five powers, only referent and expert power is achieved through lower identification and perception. The remaining three are contingent on a pre-obtained status, or otherwise possessing a “capacity’ in which facilitates the delivery, and for that matter, the sustainability of power. Morehouse, 2010, IPPP). So how does power come about? How is it achieved? Is it tangible? Measurable? Or is it, as some say, an illusion in itself? According to Pierce and Dougherty (2002), previous studies regarding organizational power have suggested that power is equivalent to domination, and that within these empirical studies, arises three distinct types of philosophical traditions that, “… Underpin the constructions of power”. Pierce and Dougherty further define what organizational power actually is?as seen by three unique perspectives: Functionalist, Materialist, and Postmodern.

Pierce and Dougherty (2010) claim, “In the Functionalist paradigm, power is viewed as control over resources”. On a world stage, the fight for control of oil in the Middle East may be viewed as attempts at obtaining functionalist control. 4 Pierce and Dougherty (2002) continue, “Materialist constructions of power spring from a Marxist tradition, taking a Structuralism view by arguing that power s created through class systems that separate the producer from the product”. And lastly, they define the postmodern tradition as, ” [contending]… Hat power, knowledge, and discourse are inextricably intertwined, and that resistance must emerge from outside of the dominant discourse” (Pierce & Dougherty, 2002). Clearly, the compilation of the above work leaps at the opportunity to further separate the meanings of power and leadership; suggesting, basically, that whoever holds the gold is king, and has little to do with how tall you are… Or if you’re a man or woman?or for that matter, what your subordinates’ opinions bout you may happen to be.

Therefore, maintaining power is synonymous with maintaining control? be it either the control of resources, or the control of subordinates themselves. Pierce and Dougherty (2002) reiterated stating, “In other words, resistance to oppression is hygienically appropriated to support the dominant ideology’. Certainly, an opposing viewpoint may take liberty in arguing that the Pierce and Dougherty principles would most directly apply to old-world dictatorships of centuries passed?yet, they do not?at least directly, that is. All empirical research was conducted through the study of modern-day organizations… To politics, or world conquest. However, in regards to how power is lost, WI Germany and the Nazi Regime provide an excellent example of the Postmodern Tradition, as the German citizenry was twice-oppressed? first by the oppressive nature of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations, and secondly by Hitler himself. The difference was that Hitter’s version was disguised as the pursuit of prosperity. Therefore, while the means of obtaining power may indeed be tangible?predictable even? power, itself, is contingent on many factors; and its pursuit has been the quest of all mankind throughout 5 history.