Leadership and Power: Main Principles

Subject: Leadership Styles
Pages: 6
Words: 1960
Reading time:
8 min
Study level: PhD


Strong and powerful leadership is one of the most important key to success. Any organization can climb the ladder of success with strong leadership. The paper sheds light on leadership and power, its importance for an organization. Few sections of the paper highlight power of position and exercise of a leader. Later section discusses Negative Power Dynamics, influence strategies. In the end, paper concludes all the working and evidences in the vein.

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Leadership and Power

Power is indeed an Ultimate fact in all the organizations in the world, today. Leaders often possess and use the power, in order to meet their specified goals and objectives, and to even make stronger their own position inside a particular organization. We can easily observe the involvement of power not only in the organizations, but also in carrying out the social relationships (Kipnis, 1984).

We can define leadership as “the ability of utilizing the power in order to get interpersonal influence” As Harry Truman succinctly stated, “Leadership is the ability to get men to do what they don’t want to do and like it”. At a broader level power directly effects in progression of a career, on the performance of job and the overall efficiency and effectiveness of an organization. So we can say that it’s a core thing for any leader that is required in all organizations in order to reach the desired destination and to meet the goals and objectives.

The challenge of leadership

Many large organizations are complex, they have extremely diverse organizational culture and are mutually dependent that contain so many opportunities for the dynamics of power. If we consider diversity, it is relevant to the differences that exist between the members of an organization with respect to their customs, norms, values, traditions, and thoughts. Right on the other hand, mutual dependency makes such a state where many people have same level of power because of same level jobs mutuality.

To play a role of an effective leader in any organization or application, a leader should focus on the following things:

  1. Must have an ability to understand the environment in which he has to play his role.
  2. Initiate winning based strategies.
  3. Have ability to execute the strategies brilliantly after their initialization.
  4. Make a record of impact of the strategies which are applied, adjust them if feels necessary.
  5. Have ability to develop a team at personal, departmental, and at the level of organizational.

Principles of Leadership Assessments

Following are the important principles that help in Leadership Assessments:

  • Explore yourself and search self-improvement: First of all there is a need to know about yourself and your self-improvement.
  • Be technically expert: Being a leader, one should have strong familiarity with the assignments, management as well as the employees.
  • Make yourself responsible for each action: Try to adopt such ways that will lead the organization up to a different level. If anything does not go in a right direction, try to conduct an analysis of the entire situation, take direction based actions and then move further.
  • Take on time decisions: taking on time and strong decisions is the most important pillar in successful leadership.
  • Set the example: A good leader must show himself as a role model so that others automatically follow his footsteps. Create a responsibility sense in your employees: Able to develop such character in the employees that they can carry out their professional responsibilities in a better way.
  • Use all skills and assets of the organization: Create a team spirit to get their full strength.

Managing mutual dependency, Diversity and Power Dynamics

As it is stated above that mutual dependency and same level of power at same designations often produces conflicts, and perhaps it’s the biggest challenge for leadership (Allan, Cohen et al., 1984). Being a leader it’s not possible to simply avoid the conflicts that arise inside the organization, a leader must take corrective steps and decisions in order to eliminate such things. In order to manage these things a strong and timely decision making and power is required so that the leader can influence successfully.

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Once it is developed, a leader can easily influence the organization in an effective way. But to architect such a power base is not easy. It requires lots of patience, time, self involvement and best management.

Acquisition of power

Question arises that how do effective leaders produce a strong powerbase? What are the steps required by a leader in order to successfully transform his power? How is it possible to sustain and retain his power with the changing times? The following picture shows clearly that how foundation of strong power base starts and how leaders drive their power by using their personal as well as their position’s resources.

Power exercise of a leader
Figure showing power exercise of a leader

Power of position

There are five factors that are used as a key in the leadership power of position:

  • Centrality
  • Criticality
  • Flexibility
  • Visibility
  • Relevance

These key factors play an important role in increasing the leadership power of position:

  • Centrality/Criticality: A leader makes proper structure of responsibilities of job in a specified way, and increases his interaction both inside and outside the organization.
  • Flexibility: Lead the activities of job by reducing routine activities and by increasing variety of tasks and creating new ideas, make basics of creative projects and getting himself involved in the process of decision making.

Table showing increment factors involves in power of position:

Factor Description
Centrality Focus on communication network relationship
Criticality Describe tasks which are involved in the process of workflow
Flexibility Freedom to act on a fixed or absolute position
Visibility Level of task performance in the organization
Relevance Organizational and tasks relationship
  • Visibility: Increase the amount of presentations and meeting with other people and increased participation in problem solving procedures.
  • Relevance: Getting opportunity to make boundary-spanning roles both internal as well as external. These roles are defined on the basis of information and services provided for work and monitoring all the activities both inside and outside the organization (John & Schermerhorn et, al.1985).

Personal Power

Following are the attributes which play an important role in the development of personal power:

  • Knowledge and information
  • Personal attraction
  • Effort

Knowledge and Information: Experience and knowledge about the related field always provide the building blocks in increasing leader’s power. Access to all resources, data centers and desired people also extend leadership power.

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Personal Attraction: Decent behavior, being in harmony with others, and most importantly charming and an attractive personality automatically referred people towards the leader.

Effort: Effort is indeed the most common factor in the personal power of a leader. A leader should have ability to show dominance. Working really hard on a project finally results in increased production and also linked with the power of position.

Power Transformation

A leader should have potential to use power properly. It depends on his ability that how he transforms power in order to influence and to get the required output. Influence deals with the activities, the affects and the attitude of other individuals, group or organizations (James. Gibson, et.al, 1985). An influence strategy is required for the successful transformation that also reduces potential abuse and resistance.

A leader must retain the perspective in terms of power targeting in order to influence successfully.

Developing Strategies of Influence

There are numerous ways of exercising influence. Several studies suggest that influence strategies can be classified into three broad categories:

  • Retribution
  • Reciprocity
  • Reason

Different studies show that all the approaches regarding influence strategies have certain advantages as well as certain limitations. A leader has to face challenges like of complex organization structure and the dependencies in jobs. So he has to adopt such a strategy, which is proper and can help in the production of some positive power dynamics (Bratton, Grint, & Nelson. 2005). Leaders should avoid unexpected and surprising influence strategies. But remember that too much use of an influence strategy can move towards abuses of influence and may result in diminution of leader influence after some time. So it is very much important to keep a balance between the power of the leader and the person who has been targeted to be influenced. You cannot target a person in such a way that he feels mistreated, or it is against his desires or emotions. Power dynamics should be created by the leader to procure commitments which must be followed in order to achieve the desired organizational goals and targets (Hemphill, McGreal, et.al, 2006).

Influence Strategies

Following table distinguished the Influence Strategies with respect to direct and indirect approach.

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Category Indirect Approach Direct Approach
Rely on fear of retribution Intimidation Coercion
Involve norms of reciprocity Ingratiation Bargaining
Use persuasive argument ents based on reason Appeal to personal values Present facts

Positive Power Dynamics

The better strategy and proper implementation of influence leads the influence of the leader towards behavioral dynamics that provide the base of creative thinking and problem solving techniques (Bratton, Grint & Nelson, 2005). The team working of organization allows an organization to make a better level of performance that is linked with the achievement of objectives. So power of a leader and his influence make the dynamics, which results in more number of people for the organization.

Negative Power Dynamics

In large and complex organizations the misuse of power is also a fact. It often happens that the influence of the leader is totally of no value or it is used to increase just their own power or they just want to draw attention towards them to show their own importance. This type of leadership power failure moves the organization towards a decline and a war inside the organization initiates. A political warfare inside the organization simply damages the organization internally and this thing directly hits the outcomes of the organization that results in great loss and uncertainty (Reicher, Haslam & Hopkins, 2005). It just destroys the capabilities of staff and employees as they are headed in wrong direction. Conflicts begin to arise both at horizontal as well as vertical level inside the organization and finally the entire organization move towards failure.

Organization Effectiveness

The life of an organization represents model of power of leader and his influence propose a complex social environment which is full of bold challenges, efforts, and unfriendly behavior. It also represents the fact of complex organizational characteristics. The setting of work type, processes involves in that particular work, setting of objectives and decision making process.

Leadership exercise of power
The figure showing the leadership exercise of power

Without the excellence of a leadership it is not possible to get the objectives and achievement of organization effectiveness. Leadership excellence depends on this thing that how effectively a leader can implement the power in order to produce long term positive power dynamics in any organization (Moss, Kanter, 1979).


If the leader is thriving under the circumstances of high diversity and job-related mutuality, it is necessary for the leader to create such power bases which are effective and influence strategies in such a way that social complexity works. While perfectly executing power success converted into stronger power bases and with much more opportunities that lead towards the final destination or objectives. The mistreat or misapplication of power systematically moves towards stepped-up and non-productive diversity, thus causing deformation interdependence in related jobs that finally results as hindrance in the achievement of goals. Negative power dynamics have an end result as impaired by diminution power-base and it points on the ineffectiveness of a leader.


Allan R, Cohen et al. (1984). Effective Behavior in Organizations (Homewood, Ill.: Irwin), 310.

Bratton, Grint & Nelson. (2005). Organizational leadership. Web.

Bratton, Grint & Nelson. (2005). the fallacy of misplaced leadership. Web.

David Kipnis & et al., (1984). “Patterns of Managerial Influence: Shotgun Managers, Tacticians, and Bystanders,” Organizational Dynamics.

Hemphill & McGreal, Berry, Watson. (2006). Leadership, power and multisector urban regeneration partnerships. Web.

James ,L. & Gibson, John.M. Ivancevich, and James.H. (1985), Donnelly Jr., Organizations: Behavior, Structure, Processes (Plano, Tex.: Business Publications, Inc.333.

John ,R.& Schermerhorn ,Jr. James G. Hunt, and Richard N. Osborn, (1985), Managing Organizational Behavior (New York: John Wiley and Sons), 445.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, (1979). “Power Failure in Management Circuits,” Harvard Business Review, J, 65.

Reicher, Haslam & Hopkins. (2005). Social identity and the dynamics of leadership. Web.