Power and Influence: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Power and influence in the realm of leadership does not always result in positive circumstance. Some of the most powerful and influential leaders have caused devastating consequences to society such as Adolf Hitler and Jim Jones. A leader with power has the ability to evoke change in someone, or influence them (PSU, 2013). The influence is the level of change that has occurred within the follower (PSU, 2013). A simplistic example of power and influence would be, a mother with the power to punish her child, by taking away the IPod, has the ability to influence her child's decision to do or not do their chores. The influence on the child would be determined by the degree in which his/her behavior has changed to accommodate angry mom. This particular mom has chosen coercive power to influence the child with using fear as a control tactic (PSU, 2013). Another mom might find the use of reward power more effective (PSU, 2013). This mom could offer an allowance in return for the child finishing the chores. Both moms are influencing a change in behaviors through different influence tactics. Leaders of all natures have employed influence tactics with the hopes of power and change.
Jim Jones was an infamous cult leader from the 50's through the 70's
On a much lighter note, we can look at the leadership of Mother Teresa, who began as an entrepreneur in the town of Calcutta with 20 following nuns. Her passion and influential power built a worldwide enterprise in over one hundred countries
Power and influence can be a great mechanism in the changing of behaviors. The fact that power can bring about a change in one's behavior means that sometimes the power is appropriate and sometimes it is not. We generally do not describe the great leaders of our times as abusive power hungry, self serving individuals. Unfortunately, some effective leaders, although not great, have abused power to ravaging effects, such like Adolf Hitler. The ability to hold power and influence over individuals is a task that many can embrace the good, the bad and the ugly.
Bose, R., & Faust, L. (2011). Mother Teresa, CEO: Unexpected principles for practical leadership. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Robinson, B. (2007, April 9). Destructive cults: the people's temple led by James Warren (Jim) Jones. Retrieved from Ontario Cosultants on Religious Tolerance: http://www.religioustolerance.org/dc_jones.htm
Pennsylvania State University. (2013). Power and influence. Leadership in the Work Settings.