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Leadership Approach

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Leadership Approach

Organizational Leadership

March 11, 2012


This paper is an overview of one of the major approaches to studying leadership. We will examine the power-influence approach to leadership, identify strengths and weaknesses of the approach, and provide an example of the approach in use in an organization.

Leadership Approach

The idea of leadership brings forth many ideas, theories, and beliefs that vary by the many individuals who attempt to define it. In research, the operational definition of leadership depends on the purpose of the researcher (Campbell, 1977). Consequently, leadership has evolved into a subjective topic difficult to define. The Power-Influence approach research endeavors to show the effectiveness of leadership by examining the amount and type of power held by a leader and how he or she uses it (Yuki, 2010). The process examines the influence process beyond the relationship between subordinates. The review of influence may consider the relationship between peers, superiors, internal or, external customers (Yuki, 2010). For instance, some leaders have power because they can hire or fire individuals, whereas others have power because they are subject matter experts. The leader with the ability to hire or fire has an official or formal power but this type of power can rarely lead to an enthusiastic or empowered team ready to exceed expectations. The subject matter expert may easily influence others because of their superior skills or other personal qualities.

John French and Bertram Raven, social psychologists noted for studies on power conducted in 1959, identified five bases of power:

1. Legitimate - the belief that a person has the right to make demands, and expect compliance from others.

2. Reward - this results from one person's ability to compensate another for compliance.

3. Expert - expertise based on a person's superior skill and knowledge.

4. Referent - this is the result of a person's perceived attractiveness, worthiness, and right to respect from others.

5. Coercive - this comes from the belief that a person can punish others for noncompliance (Mind Tools, n.d.).

Reward power is used in many organizations on a daily basis; most likely because they are expected and marginally successful. People in power control raises, office locations, training opportunities, challenging assignments, and access to new technology. Individuals are highly likely to perform a task or achieve objectives if they expect receipt of a rewarded



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