Leadership and Power, Essay Example
Leadership is one of the most researched topics in the contemporary world. The changing dynamics of the business, especially in the twenty-first, is one of the reasons why leadership is of great concern to academicians and other scholars. Notable is the fact that the issue of leadership has been looked into for years with different theories on leadership having been published in the course of time. Leadership comes in different forms, and the different types of leadership determine the success or failure of an organization (Edwards et al, 2015). By analyzing different leaders from across the various fronts, this paper opposes the assertion that “as long as you get things done, it does not matter what sources of one uses.”
Sources of power
Leadership in itself refers to the exercise of power which comes from agreed-upon principles between the leader and his followers. As such, the two are inherently bound together, and none can work in the absence of the other. Leaders, therefore, need to understand that their position comes with the great responsibility of exercising power. Power originates from multiple sources including, rewarding, coercion, information and legitimacy How one takes the aspect of power in their position of leadership, therefore, determines their ability to steer the organization. The proper use of power creates a conducive environment and a strong bond between the leader and his followers, while the vice versa is true.
Leaders should appreciate and acknowledge the fact that there are people who look up to them. Their decisions and behaviour go a long way in influencing their followers either positively or negatively. As such, their approach to handling issues should be guided by the moral principles that guide the organization for which they are in charge (Yahaya and Ebrahim 2016). They should, therefore, be rational and considerate before making any decisions. This is as a slight mistake could lead to either short-term or long-term negative effects that could take long before the organization jumps back to its original position.
Benefits of applying power to relevant situations
Ethical leadership falls under transparency and being loyal to the organization. Persons in leadership positions should not take advantage of situations to enrich themselves or to swindle investors and employees into buying ideas that are in real life unrealistic. Leaders should, therefore, consider the sensitivity of the matter at hand before making decisions that could affect their organization (Yahaya and Ebrahim 2016). As a leader, one needs to consider the positive aspect of analyzing a situation and working consultatively with other partners in coming up with rational decisions.
Winston Churchill is one of the greatest leaders that modern England has had in recent times. In times of chaos, he was cautious about approaching the battlefield and never underestimated the power of his opponents. He understood that chaos was inevitable and sooner than later, the possibility of the United Kingdom being subdued by Germany and her allies was coming. His ability to accept this fact allowed him to seek allies during World War II, and this came as a great success. By consulting the Russian and United States presidents, he was able to forge an alliance that would go a long way in helping salvage his country (Raico 2017). This is despite England being the greatest nation at the time with territories in different parts of the world. He accepted to swallow the pride of being the leader of a great nation and gave both his allies the power to plan the war and overcome the impending danger. This was an example of an ethical leader who put the interests of his people before his personal interests. His consultative approach showed a rational leader who understood the position of his people and accepted the fact that he could do little without the help of others.
The very aspect of leaders seeking to accomplish things without worrying about the process that was followed indicators a form of dictatorship. These are individuals who do not consider the opinions of others and view themselves as always being right in all they do. As such, they misuse the power given to them without minding about the consequences. Democratic leaders have always been able to resolve issues as they delegate some of the functions to people they believe can handle the same based on the qualifications they have. This is unlike in dictatorship, where all decisions are left to the leaders to make, and the followers do as they are told without asking any questions or having their thoughts considered on the way forward.
Elon Musk is one of the greatest innovators in the modern world with a vision to land the first human being to planet Mars through space X (Dobbs 2016). This is despite him being the head of other organizations such as tesla motors. As a leader, it is important to learn the art of trusting other people and delegating some of the duties for organizational success. On the one hand, this helps avert the challenge of conflicting interests and having too much to handle. As a leader, one should strive to mentor others into becoming the people they already are. Elon Musk has continually allowed other individuals to run errands around both of his companies for he understands the power of teamwork which can only work in a democratic organization (Dobbs 2016). Once a challenge is experienced, it becomes easier to resolve as the opinion of others, including the subordinate staff, comes in handy.
Disadvantages of misplacing the source of power
A complete contrast of unethical leadership was depicted by the chief financial officer at Enron during its peak in the late 20th century. Despite knowing that the organization was slowly crumbling and could not meet its financial obligations, Andrew Fastow went ahead to forge the financial statements of the organization which later led to a huge shame after the cover had been blown (Aven 2015). Wall Street traders had been making huge investments in the company oblivious of what was going on from within the organization. Millions of dollars were lost within days despite the company having been viewed as one of the most successful companies at the time. Unethical decision making led to investors being duped yet the company was cashing in millions as a publicly-traded company. The insensitiveness and greed, in addition to unethical decision making by the company leadership, is, therefore, what led to the failure of the organization.
The British Petroleum (BP) incident at the Gulf of Mexico where oil spillage occurred is an example of a failed organization due to dictatorial leadership approach. At the time, BP was very positive about the benefits they would accrue from oil explorations in the United States waters (Schwartz 2020). Despite warnings from engineers over potential hazard from hastened installation of the exploration machines, the leadership of the company thought it wise to have the same fitted within the shortest time possible. Engineers who come in the distance in the decision-making protocol at the company would, therefore, work day and night. Tony Hayward, the then CEO would realize the mistake once the catastrophe arose, leading to the deaths of eleven individuals and an environmental disaster that lingers in the minds of many to date. The main aim was to excavate the oil within the shortest time possible and at all costs without considering the hazard that faced the company at the time. In the end, the company’s financial and market position came crumbling down as the company lost millions of dollars by the minute due to declining stock prices.
Proposers to the statement would argue that leaders have the sole responsibility of seeing their organizations become a success. As such, they need to do all that is in their power to make things happen. As a leader, it is important to focus on the main goal of the organization, which is to tackle issues head-on provided a solution is found in the end. This would be especially for organizations owning a greater market share which puts them in a near-monopoly situation. As such, they can do all they have to in making their organizations a success.
There is, however, the question of people discovering such tendencies and seeking to have answers provided to them over such actions. For example, Facebook had, for a long time, been collecting personal information about their subscribers without considering issues of privacy that are regulated differently in all countries. Facebook did this without considering the long term repercussion of their actions once the enlightenment came to the people. Once faced with the challenge. Mark Zuckerberg would have a difficult time explaining to the public the measures in place to protect personal data or how secure the same is in their system (Bartsch and Dienlin 2016). Today, the company has revisited its privacy and security policies though they never thought that it would ever be questioned by the public.
Leadership and power go hand in hand. However, it is up to the leader to decide how well they are going to use their power in getting things done around their organization. There are procedures and considerations that need to be made before any decision on a particular matter is made. This should include assessing the current situation and how the path taken in resolving the same would affect the organization in the long run. Leaders who make rational decision are consultative and sensitive over the impact that their actions would have both on the organization and on the stakeholders. As seen in the examples provided above, most leaders who sought shortcuts to accomplish tasks would later come to grapple with the negative effects that their irrational decisions would have on their organization.
Aven, B.L., 2015. The paradox of corrupt networks: An analysis of organizational crime at Enron. Organization Science, 26(4), pp.980-996.
Bartsch, M. and Dienlin, T., 2016. Control your Facebook: An analysis of online privacy literacy. Computers in Human Behavior, 56, pp.147-154.
Brookes, S., Dunn, M., Edwards, G., Barth-Farkas, F. and Vera, A., 2014. Power and transformational leadership in public organizations. International journal of leadership in public services.
Dobbs, M.E., 2016. Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship, 21(1), p.83.
Edwards, G., Schedlitzki, D., Turnbull, S. and Gill, R., 2015. Exploring power assumptions in the leadership and management debate. Leadership & Organization Development Journal.
Raico, R., 2017. Rethinking Churchill. In The Costs of War (pp. 321-360). Routledge.
Schwartz, M.S., 2020. Beyond petroleum or bottom line profits only? An ethical analysis of BP and the Gulf oil spill. Business and Society Review, 125(1), pp.71-88.
Yahaya, R. and Ebrahim, F., 2016. Leadership styles and organizational commitment: literature review. Journal of Management Development.
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