Leadership and Power: what’s the Difference ?

After reading this article you will learn about the relationship between leadership and power.

The concepts of power and leadership have much in common. In the last analysis certain people are leaders because they exercise power. Indeed it is inconceivable that a leader should not have power. Consequently the exercise of influence is a central part of most of definitions of leadership.

But that does not mean that leadership and power are the same thing. Power indicates coercion, authority, command and in any organization, these have to be activated for the accomplishment of certain tasks but “leadership act represents a choice of these instru­ments.”

The leader cannot and will not, if he is a good leader, always rely on these instruments and even if he has to make use of them, he will use them as a last resort. His basic function is to persuade, to influence, to motivate and to inspire.

In the words of Allen “Leadership is the activity of persuading people to cooperate in the achievement of a common objective.” Terry defines it as “the activity of influencing people to strive willingly for mutual objectives.” “Lead­ership always involves attempts on the part of a leader (influencer) to affect (influence) the behaviour of a follower (influence) or followers in situation.”

In the words of Seckler-Hudson:

“Leadership in large organizations may be defined as influencing and energizing of people to work together in a common effort to achieve the purposes of the enterprise.” In his opinion.

Leadership depends on the following three things:

(a) The individual.

(b) The followers.

(c) The condi­tions.

Much depends on the leader and his qualities of guiding and advising others but an equal weight should be given to the followers.

Mary Parker Follett has described the relationship between the leader and his followers:

“We have now to lay somewhat less stress than formerly on this matter of the leader influencing his group because we now think of the leader as being influenced by his group. One of our Chief Justices said to me once that he considered his reciprocal relation the main characteristic of leadership. I think it is one of the best examples of what I have called circular response. The currents go both ways. The channels should be kept open for this continuous flow to go on all the time. When it gets dammed up, effective leader­ship stops. That is, we should think not only of what the leader does to the group, but also of what the group does to the leader.”

Power, on the other hand, is one-way traffic or a one-way current. It is one-way journey which goes from the leader downward. It is not A.C. but D.C. current. The conditions or situations also affect leadership; to which power is somewhat blind.

Millett rightly said -“Leadership is often made or broken by circumstances…. “Success” in administrative leadership, as in political leadership, depends in part upon conditions which the individual does not make. The leader in any enterprise can but make the most of the events and forces which surround his effort.

He is scarcely ever a “free agent” in charting his own course of action or in leading the group of which he is a part.”

Briefly put:

(i) Leadership is basically personal quality.

(ii) Leader tries to influence the behaviour of individuals around him to fulfill certain pre­determined objectives.

(iii) Leader tries to influence the individual to behave in a particular way.

(iv) Leadership is a continuous process of influencing behaviour.

(v) Leadership is exercised in a particular situation. The situation variables also affect the effectiveness of leadership.

SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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