Leadership the Productive and Moral Application of Influence

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Leadership the Productive and Moral Application of Influence

Ethics and profit in all organisations and societies are at some point often in conflict with one another, doing the right thing morally and doing the right thing for your profits will always create a dilemma.

So what do I mean by Leadership, the Productive and Moral Application of Influence?

Well, this implies that Leadership can be applied morally or immorally even coercively in organisations to attain an intended goal or state.

If you know our thoughts here at Jasper on this matter you will be aware that we are totally perplexed by the sheer number of leadership models being peddled across the World, and of course, you have those that are in and out of vogue, reinvented from the past and models wearing a different disguise.

We are still after many years in teaching leaders and managers about the use of “Power” of the opinion that it’s the power element of influence in leadership that is either moral or immoral in how it is applied to people or in situations.

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The Financial Crash of 2008 is a prime example and should have taught us much about how not to apply power. The Leader CEO Dick Fuld at Lehman Brothers known well for his style of leadership and who we now use as a major case study on how not to lead an organisation.  More importantly, the case evidenced how not to operate and manage an internal audit system and how not to operate an internal corporate governance model.

Although we are not into reinvention or as I describe above new disguises, Nicole Lipkin discusses the different types of power in her new book “What Keeps Leaders Up At Night”.  For me she does not disguise leadership thinking of the late 1950s but presents it as a current approach to many problems that have still not gone away after thousands of bools and academic papers have been written and rewritten. Her analysis uses the five types of power introduced by Psychologists, John French and Bertram Raven in 1959 along with two types that were introduced later. In her book, she presents them well.

Legitimate Power is where a person in a higher position has control over people in a lower position in an organisation (moral immoral opportunity).

“If you have this power, it’s essential that you understand that this power was given to you (and can be taken away), so don’t abuse it,” Lipkin says. “If Liz rises to the position of CEO and her employees believe she deserves this position, they will respond favourably when she exercises her legitimate power.  On the other hand, if Liz rises to the position of CEO, but people don’t believe that she deserves this power, it will be a bad move for the company as a whole.”

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Coercive Power is where a person leads threats and force. It is unlikely to win respect and loyalty from employees for long (immoral).

“There is not a time of day when you should use it,” Lipkin tells us. “Ultimately, you can’t build credibility with coercive influence – you should think of it like bullying in the workplace”. (immoral opportunity and use)

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Expert Power is the perception that one possesses superior skills or knowledge.

“If Liz holds an MBA and a PhD in statistical analysis, her colleagues and reports are more inclined to accede to her expertise,” Lipkin says.

In order to keep their status and influence, however, experts need to continue learning and improving. (moral immoral opportunity can be used to manipulate)

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Informational Power is where a person possesses needed or wanted information. This is a short-term power base that doesn’t necessarily influence or build credibility.

For example, a project manager may have all the information for a specific project, and that will give her “informational power.” But it’s hard for a person to keep this power for long, and eventually, this information will be released. This should not be a long-term strategy. (moral immoral opportunity can be used to manipulate)

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Reward Power is where a person motivates others by offering raises, promotions and awards.

“When you start talking financial livelihood, power takes on a whole new meaning,” Lipkin says. For example, “both Liz and Bob hold a certain amount of reward power if they administer performance reviews that determine raises and bonuses for their people.” (moral immoral opportunity)

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Connection Power is where a person attains influence by gaining favour or simply acquaintance with a powerful person. This power is all about networking.

“If I have a connection with someone that you want to get to, that’s going to give me power. That’s politics in a way,” Lipkin says. “People employing this power build important coalitions with others … Liz’s natural ability to forge such connections with individuals and assemble them into coalitions gives her strong connection power”. (moral immoral opportunity)

Referent Power is the ability to convey a sense of personal acceptance or approval. It is held by people with charisma, integrity and other positive qualities. It is the most valuable type of power. (moral opportunity)

“People with high referent power can highly influence anyone who admires and respects them,” Lipkin says.

Our next post on Leadership will be a close look at Narcissistic Personality Disorders at the Top in Fortune 500 Companies.

Dr Marshall Potts Chairman Jasper Global Corporation
Page by: Dr Marshall Potts, Specialist Development Consultant. Marshall has written a number of articles on Transformational Change, Corporate Values, Leadership Climate Risk Measurement and Organisational Improvement.

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