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In organizations aspiring for growth and continual improvement, relationships are more intricate and alternatives more numerous than the either/or imposition implied by the notion of leaders and followers. Practically no one leads all of the time. Leaders also work as followers; all in all, “everyone uses a portion of their day following and another portion leading” (Galie and Bopst, 2006, p. 11).
I find this to be very accurate, both in relation to my Leadership Assessment Quiz and Power Orientation test results as well as my own personal stance on leadership and power. Power is defined as “a person, group, or nation having great influence or control over others,” (Moore, 1996, p. 837), whereas leadership is seen as the ability of one who leads or inspires. The notable difference between the two, being “control” and “inspire.”
In association with the 65 achieved in the Leadership Assessment Quiz, my readiness for the leadership role is comprehended as moderate. Meaning I have moderate readiness to take on a leadership role. A leaders traits and needs play a crucial role in determining peoples work attitudes, behaviours, and performance, in addition to organizational outcomes. Effective leaders are said to have certain personality traits, which can be divided into general personality traits, such as; self-confidence, assertiveness and warmth, and task-related traits, such as courage and control (DuBrin, Dalglish, and Miller, 2006).
The general personality traits, which are related to success both in and outside the workplace, are all inherent in my answers given in the Leadership Assessment Quiz. With statements such as, “it is easy for me to compliment others” and “team members listen to me when I speak,” it is apparent I possess these characteristics. Whereas my task- related personality traits associated with successful leadership, such as courage, still need to be developed. Not only do I know this in myself, but it is clearly pointed out throughout the test, with statements such as, “resolving conflict is an activity I enjoy” and “I would enjoy coaching other members of the team”.
The literature generally suggests that effective leaders express their needs and motives in ways that benefit the organization. These needs or motives, are considered to be; tenacity, power, drive and work ethic (DuBrin et al. 2006). The power motive is significant, as it plays a major role in the relations taking place within the organization. Power over others is an inevitable part of leadership, but it also carries with it the risks associated with the misuse or abuse of power (Wikipedia, 2008).
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The Power Orientation Test is designed to test a persons Machiavellianism (Mach) score. Inspired by what Machiavelli wrote almost five centuries ago, modern Machiavellianism is a term used to describe a person’s tendency to deceive and manipulate others for personal gain. People with high Mach scores tend to be more manipulative and detached in their interaction with other people (Galie and Bopst, 2006). With a Mach score of 25 out of 50, I hold a low Mach, as I tend to believe that, “one should only take action when it is morally right,” and “most people are basically good and kind.”
Low Mach’s are usually inclined to take a more personal and compassionate approach in their dealings with other people. This then goes back to my notion about followers and leaders, as I would rather be an active follower, who is part of a team, than an isolated leader. However at the extreme, people with very low Mach scores are considered to be dependent, submissive and socially inept (Galie et al. 2006). Therefore, although it isn’t regarded as a benefit to have a high Mach score, a very low score, isn’t considered a benefit either.
In contrast to the idea of Machiavellianism, in relation to the Power Orientation Test, is that of psychologist David McClelland, who developed the Need Theory. The Need theory is a simple, three-level model to classify people’s motivation. Essentially, McClelland proposed that there are three relevant needs in work situations that differentiate people according to what motivates them: need for affiliation, need for achievement, and need for power (Brennan, Ferris, Paquet and Kline, (n. d.)).
These needs are found to varying degrees in all employees and managers, and this mix of needs describes a person's mannerisms and behaviour, both in terms of being motivated and in motivating others. McClelland’s work suggests that effective and efficient leaders have a high need for power (pro-social), moderate need for achievement, and moderate need for affiliation (Brennan et al. (n. d.)).
The need for power should be pro-social as successful leaders use their high need for power to influence others to tackle goals that benefit their subordinates and the organization, as well as themselves. But those with a high need for personalized power are likely to be aggressive and to show a high need for dominance, which can be associated with negative outcomes, as seen for people with high Mach’s (DuBrin et al. 2006).
In relation to McClelland’s Need Theory, I would be a person who has a high need for socialised power. The reasons for this being that I highly disagree with the statements, “anyone who completely trusts someone else is asking for trouble,” and “most people easily forget the death of their father than the loss of their property.” But the main reason being based upon my personal experiences, as when I am placed in a position of power, I usually try to exercise that power in ways that benefit everyone in the organization.
Another way to gaining an understanding of leadership is to examine the leader’s ability and personality, in terms of their problem solving skills, all of which take part in an important role of leadership success. The five cognitive factors, that researchers have seen to be highly significant are; openness to experience, farsightedness and conceptual thinking, insight into people and situations, knowledge of the business or group task and creativity (DuBrin et al. 2006).
In association with the Leadership Assessment Quiz, these five cognitive factors are inherent in my readiness for leadership with statements such as, “it is enjoyable having people count on me for ideas and suggestions.” This brings up the cognitive factor of creativity and knowledge of the business or group tasks, which I am currently implementing in the work place. This therefore shows that I am ready to take on a leadership role, as I possess most of the traits, motives and cognitive factors.
In conclusion, the expression "too many chiefs and not enough Indians" needs no explanation, as in addition to its racial insensitivity, the statement also fails from a professional perspective. Leaders influence followers, but followers also have some influence over leaders (Kouzes, and Posner, 2002). This is especially true in large organizations where the effectiveness of managers depends on their influence over superiors and peers in addition to their influence over subordinates.
In relation to both the tests results and my personal feelings about leadership and power, I consider myself to be both an active follower and a “small” leader. The reasons for this are that I lack the courage and assertiveness inherent in the personality traits of a successful leader and that my need for power is more socialised than personalised. Both of these explanations can not only be confirmed by the results revealed in the Leadership Assessment Quiz and the Power Orientation Test, but in my own personal readiness for leadership.
1. Brennan, A., Ferris, P., Paquet, S., and Kline, T. (n. d.). The Use and Abuse of Power in Leadership, University of Calgary, Calgary.
2. DuBrin, A. J., Dalglish, C., and Miller, P. (2006). Leadership, 2nd Ed., John Wiley & Sons, Australia.
3. Galie, P., Bopst, C. (2006). Machiavelli & Modern Business: Realist Thought in Contemporary Corporate Leadership Manuals, Journal of Business Ethics, VOL 65, Issue 3, 1- 17.
4. Kouzes, J. M. and Posner, B. Z. (2002). The leadership challenge. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
5. Moore, B., (1996). The Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary, 4th Ed., Oxford University Press, Australia.
6. WIKIPEDIA: The Free Encyclopedia. (2008). Leadership. Retrieved April 5, 2008, from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadership