Scouting the Power of Leadership
Two observations led me to the idea of this buzz. The first one is reading several posts on the power of leadership. The word power brought the idea of if this power follows the power law. The five bases of power were identified by John French and Bertram Raven in the early 1960's through a study they had conducted on power in leadership roles. These powers:
1. Coercive Power- in which the leader threatens followers if they don’t abide by his/her instructions
2. Reward Power- the leaders promises rewards for accomplishments
3. Expert Power-the power of the leader is based on his skill, knowledge and expertise
4. Legitimate Power- the legitimacy derives for the formal position of the leader in the organization
5. Referent Power- the source of power is based on the respect the leader earned from followers
The coercive power based on threatening followers that diverted my attention. The word coercive is used in hysteresis loops in which going from A to B and then from B to A doesn’t take a system back to A initially. Rather it follows a path as is shown below:
In electrical engineering and materials science, the coercivity, also called the magnetic coercivity, coercive field or coercive force, is a measure of the ability of a ferromagnetic material to withstand an external magnetic field without becoming demagnetized. It is a measure of the reverse field needed to drive the magnetization to zero after being saturated. On the curve above it is the value of H for which B is zero. If we follow the arrows we find that we don’t go back to the starting point (where the B and H lines intersect); instead the material goes in a loop. The H line represents the strength of the magnetic field. The line B is the magnetic flux density. This is because of the magnetic field causing the mini magnets of the magnetized material to align in one direction. The aligning process does not occur simultaneously or in step with the magnetizing field but lags behind it.
The video below illustrates the above elegantly
Here comes the analogy with leaders. Leaders who have magnetic power realize that aligning people towards a goal may lag behind. The leaders job is to create a magnetized field so as to cause the magnet-like employees to align towards a common goal (and I prefer a common purpose) and this alignment shall depend on the type of workers the leader has.
The leader should be aware of the fact that if he generates a magnetic field (environment) that not all employees are shall be readily magnetized. His first job should be centered on identifying those employees.
Second, the leader should realize that alignment of employees depends on the type of employees ha has. The alignment process takes energy. The alignment of employees towards a purpose shall lose its value unless the leader aligns the resources as well for employees to make their alignment of value.
Third, a leader should realize that not all employees shall have the same capacity to retain their acquired magnetism. Some employees are like permanent magnets and others are temporary magnets. It is the leaders’ responsibility to that he keeps the environment magnetized. A leader who can turn employees into permanently magnetized ones is doing exceptionally well.
The coercive force is the result of putting employees in a magnetic environment. It is there. Using threatening as a coercive force will only demagnetize employees and the whole loop shall fall down.
I can’t finish this buzz without referring to the exchange of comments I had with Harvey Lloyd on my previous buzz. In his comment #56 Harvey wrote “Traveling from B to A can be a very enlightening process, but within professional circles the process can become/develop into a witch hunt. Whenever we insert a stimulus towards a goal itself generates responses from those involved, complexity. When we start to see results from our personal/responsible stimulus we are experiencing the varying responses to stimulus by others. What part of my original stimulus caused person X to go north and person y to go south? B to A. This would be a very self aware review”. I hope this comment gets the attention it deserves.
The role of leaders is creating a magnetizing environment for well-selected staff that is ready to be magnetized and therefore to align with the purpose of the organization. Well-communicating, trusted, influencing and passionate leaders shall help in the self-aligning process. No need for the coercive force; it is part of the loop anyway.
Simple Laws with Counter Effects
1 year ago · 5 min. reading time
Emerging Human Values
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