Origins of Leadership and Power

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This paper will study the different facets of leadership and power in small group interactions. The variety and number of studies that have focused on leadership and power attest to the importance and ambiguousness that surround any attempts to define their origins or implications. First, the definitions of leadership and power from a social psychological viewpoint will be presented. Then a discussion will follow examining the effect of different variables on the leadership effectiveness and then a look at the convergence of power and leadership and their interrelationship.


Leadership is an important element in the functioning of group interactions toward an organized goal. Leadership has been defined in many different ways by sociologists and social psychologists alike, numbering too many to discuss here. The most common element found in these definitions is "that leadership involves a process of influence between a leader and followers to attain group, organizational, or societal goals" (Hollander, 1985). In small group interactions, leadership is usually an assigned status, with the "followers" designating, both consciously and subconsciously, someone as a leader. This is a person who, according to the group members, is believed to have those characteristics which are most suited to accomplish the task and objectives of the group (Bales and Slater, 1955). Much of the available early research that I was able to attain focused on leadership and the concept of leadership in terms of political situations. When viewed from a political standpoint, the study of leadership pertains to the analysis of relationships between those who possess power and those who don't possess power (power will be discussed in det...

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