Have you ever known a leader who had to win at any cost? Describe the impact on you? What are some of the differences between having power and being a leader? What kinds of behaviour do I wish to change in myself to better understand others?
Power is a very important thing when we talk about leadership skills, but it depends how it is used. It may be used for personal achievements to compete with others and seek situations in which one can win over another. Power also might be used to transform people and organizations and this use of power is positive as well as it is beneficial for everyone.
2. Main body
From my experience, I have met leaders who use personalized power. (Sashkin, M. & Sashkin, G., 2003) During my studies I had an opportunity to work with that type of a leader. We had to work in big groups where work should be divided, everyone should have felt influential and participate in the meetings. The whole group did not benefit from the meetings because our leader did not consider anyone’s opinion other than his, and was ignoring different points of view within a group. As a member of our group he had seen power as something personal and liked to prove his special status by offending and abusing others in front of whole group.
What was more, he was so desperate that he did anything to obtain his power even though what he wanted was not right, but he was always unwilling to allow debate. In the group there was no positive relationship between those who had work within it, and it seems to me that there was poorer productivity and performance.
Overall, when I think about impact that this leader had on me, I think that he made me stronger and value myself higher than before. During our meetings I had realized that he frightened others in order to control the group. I started to tolerate his behaviour in order to stay in good relations with the others. I think that he gave me an enormous lesson without realizing it; he taught me how to control myself. Nowadays I know that only if everyone speaks and there is an open invitation to debate, people will feel comfortable to participate what in fact creates a powerful leader. An effective leader benefits the group, inspires, and creates opportunities for members to grow and develop.
The second area that I would like to question is closely related to the first one. The leadership researcher, McClelland, found that there are two types of power used by people: prosocial and personalized power. As I mentioned above, personalized power is used by leader which do anything to obtain and maintain power when prosocial power is usually implemented by transformational leaders. Transformational leaders use power to “attain organizational performance goals” but they do not use it for personal benefit.
( Sashkin, M. & Sashkin, G., 2003, pp. 58)
Thus, this type of leader is a person who does not use his or her power to frighten people, but gives them opportunities to develop their skills and abilities. Leading it is not only defining the job but also explaining reasons why the job is being done. Leaders want the group to work together and share responsibilities. His or her role is to coach and guide members of the group.
Furthermore, every one of us at some stage might have power but it depends on us how we will use it. For instance power might come from wealth, status, influence or personality. The difference between power and leadership is that good leaders never use their power obviously.
Finally, the last area to question is which behaviour I want to change in myself to better understand people. In my opinion, and according to Daniel Goleman, what makes a leader are these five emotional components: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. Emotional intelligence plays an important role; it is very effective on the highest levels of the business. (Goleman, D. 1998)
I think that I should improve my communication skills; sometimes the way I share my ideas and feelings is not as clear as I wanted it to be. I also believe that learning about body language is a very useful thing for a leader, by having this ability it is easier to know what employees think. Encouraging others, empathize with them, opening up discussions and tolerating their opinion might be difficult to achieve but it gives possibilities to better understand others, and it is always something that I can improve.
To sum up, I have to say that power which is used and applied by prosocial person give him or her possibility to be a, in my opinion, real leader who influences and inspires people. This type of leader has strong foundations of communications and his or her behaviour is always appropriate to the situation. These abilities I would like to achieve in the future and become a leader who influences others.
Sashkin, M. & Sashkin, G. 2003, Leadership that matters, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco.
O’Connor, C. 2002, Leadership in a week, Hodder Education, London.
Goleman, D. 1998, ‘What makes a leader’, Harvard Business Review, vol. 76, no. 682. pp. 73 - 82.