Tension Between Leadership and Power

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In this article the authors examine individual and social factors that help to determine whether leaders will use their personal power to advance organizational goals or whether they will act to advance their own self-interest. Results demonstrated that although leaders often prioritize group goals, in situations where the individual thinks that their individual power is threatened leaders who were high on a trait called dominance motivation chose to work within the scope of their own self-interest at the expense of group goals. These findings underscore important traits that help to predict how and when a leader might choose personal power over the success and direction of the organization. I chose this article because it is well grounded in research and it is practical and useful for organizations. The authors’ arguments and hypotheses are grounded in evolutionary theories of power and leadership. The authors hypothesized that there are a number of factors that may influence when leaders prioritize themselves or the organization. However, the factor that I found the most interesting was “dominance motivation”. Dominance is a leadership style characterized by manipulation and taking power via force. In other words it is a strategy that is used by an individual to maintain a divide between those in power and those who are not. When faced with a choice between protecting their own power and enhancing the power of the group to be successful, those high on dominance motivation sought to maintain their personal power. This resulted in dominant leaders excluding influential or powerful group members who were viewed as a threat to the individual. The authors found no effect for gender on this trait, meaning it was equally present in the men and women in the sample. I was thinking about how to use this information in selecting personnel into influential positions

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