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Not Everything is Leadership - Part 1: Power Wielding Vs. Referent Power

Not Everything is Leadership - Component 1: Power Wielding Vs. Referent Power

Post by John Dentico

Picture for a moment you are standing by the side of your house and performing some work on it. Your Neighbor Bob comes more than to see how you are performing. As Bob approaches you say: "Hi Bob, can you do me a favor?" "Confident" Bob Replies. "Can you hand me that hammer in the toolbox?" You ask. Bob reaches down and pulls out a little jeweler's screwdriver, the type jewelers use to repair a watch and hands it to you. "Bob", you say, I asked you for a hammer. Bob replies, "This is a hammer!"

Welcome to the globe of leadership studies where, by some counts, there are over 300 different definitions of leadership. Sound confusing? It is. Imagine a toolbox filled with 300 distinct tools all labeled "hammer". How can this be? Simply because leadership may possibly be 1 of the most powerful and consuming words in our dictionary and is utilised categorize every single human interaction, deed, assertive thought or organization function when in reality it could quite well be something else. Why is that? Leadership scholar John Gardner said it ideal "Leadership is such a gripping subject that once it is given center stage it draws attention away from every little thing else."

The straightforward reality remains that if we have no clarity about the nature or purpose of leadership, then how can we decide on to use the capability leadership provides? How many times do we hear in the news that what this country requirements, what this industry demands, what this company wants is powerful leadership? But what does robust leadership genuinely mean? Are we speaking about Power Authority Command and Control Detailed Management Strength of Character Take Charge Persona or a collaborative movement for change? Moreover, which of these concepts are we willing to accept as the kind of solution to our most difficult concerns?

If you were to decide on power or authority, my advice is, be cautious. There are distinct kinds of power and as the patriarch of leadership thought in America James MacGregor Burns writes in his 1978 intellectual blockbuster Leadership "power wielding is never ever leadership." Power wielding is when someone acts primarily with self-interest in mind whether or not or not the purposes of the followers are realized writes Burns. We have witnessed this notion of power as a select few on Wall Street suffered the disdain of the populace having crossed the line in between sensible risk taking to narcissistic self-interest, power wielders short and basic.

But power is an essential portion of leadership. Power is a relationship, writes Burns, and possibly its a lot more relevant state is greater described in the notion of an enhanced or shared referent power. Dorwin Cartwright and Alvin Zander describe referent power as when one individual wishes to establish or maintain a satisfying self defining relationship where the reward to the individual in these instances is not so a lot a matter of gaining social recognition or monetary rewards as of establishing his self-identity and confirming the notion of the sort of person he or she sees himself or herself to be.

From this author's perspective an enhanced or shared referent power is when every single individual in a transformational leadership relationship establish and preserve not only a self defining relationship but a relationship with each member where they themselves become transformed by their united actions.

1 of the most notable shifts in the notion and idea of leadership in the 21st Century is a important movement towards leadership as an influence relationship where diverse groups of men and women exert a collaborative force to make substantial change. Consider the words of Harvard Professor and former Medtronic CEO Bill George, "their method to leadership is entirely diverse... They do not care about position, power or status or organizational hierarchy, or even having followers. Instead, they are superb networkers who discover collaborators to produce opportunities and organizations. They are on line 24/7 constantly networking, constantly in touch."

For these emerging super-networkers leadership becomes an interlocking network of relationships where people work together to make substantial alter. For them--leadership is what men and women do together!