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Organizational Behavior – Leadership/Power

This memo will address leadership and management, including the differences between the roles and functions of the two. Also addressed will be the types of power in American organizations as well as the potential sources of conflict in organizations and ways to resolve them. Leadership and management are often used interchangeably just as groups and teams. The clear distinction that exists between groups and teams also exists between management and leadership. Leadership is defined as the “ability to influence a group toward the achievement of a vision or set of goals” (Robbins & Judge, 2011 p. 77). Leaders can be appointed or can evolve by being affiliated with a group. Activities involved with leadership include creating a vision, establishing strategies, motivating and inspiring others. Management is the act of monitoring and supervising a group. Planning, staffing and organizing are duties that are within management. Not all leaders are managers and all managers are not leaders and while the two have distinct differences there are times when they do align.

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Having both good leadership and management within an organization is vital to its success. Power is the “capacity that A has to influence the behavior of B so that B acts in accordance with A’s wishes” (Robbins & Judge, 2011 p. 421). The bases of power can be broken into two categories, formal and personal. The textbook, Organizational Behavior, explains that formal power is based on an individual’s position in an organization while personal power comes from an individuals unique characteristics (Robbins & Judge, 2011 p. 21). Research suggests that personal power is more effective than formal power. Personal power can be further broken down into two categories, expertise and the respect and admiration of others. Expert power occurs when an individual has the ability to influence others as a result of expertise, special skills or knowledge. Referent power is based on identification with a person with desirable resources or personal traits. Formal power can be in the form of coercive power, reward power and legitimate power.

Coercive power is based on fear of the negative results from failing to comply. Coercive power is effective through uses such as threat of infliction of pain or frustration through restriction of movement. Reward power is the opposite of coercive power; it is based on the idea that compliance produces positive and valuable benefits. Legitimate power is one of the most common powers, it involves the authority to control and use organizational resources because of structural position in the organization.

Conflict is the “process that begins when one party perceives that another party has negatively affected, or is about to negatively affect, something that the first party cares about” (Robbins & Judge, 2011 p. 454). Conflict can generate both positive and negative influences on an organization. Communication, structure and personal variables are three potential sources of conflict within an organization. Individuals have the tendency to communicate in very different ways. Variations in communication can be influenced by personality, past experiences, and culture.

Communication is vulnerable to misunderstandings and misinterpretations. What one person is communicating is not always what another is receiving. Organizational structure as a potential source of conflict is based on variables such as size, degree of specialization in tasks assigned, and jurisdictional clarity. Also included in organization structure conflicts are member-goal compatibility, leadership styles, reward systems and the degree of dependence between groups. The last category of potential sources of conflict is concerning personal variables including, personality, emotions, and values.

Conflicts within an organization can be handled by a myriad of techniques including problem solving, super ordinate goals, and expansion of resources, authoritative command, and altering human the variable. Problem solving technique of conflict resolution involves a face-to-face meeting of the conflicting parties. During the meeting, the problem is identified and resolved through an open discussion. Creating a shared goal that can’t be accomplished without the cooperation of the conflicting parties is the conflict resolution technique of super-ordinate goals.

Expansion of resources involves a conflict caused by the scarcity of a resource such as money, opportunities, or office space. This resolution technique attempts to create a win-win solution of both parties. Authoritative command technique occurs when management uses formal authority to resolve conflict and communicates the desires to the parties involved. Altering the human variable technique for conflict-resolution is the use of behavioral change techniques, such as human relations training, to alter attitudes and behavior that cause conflict.

Effective leadership and management are important for the success of meeting organizational goals. Managers and leaders within an organization have to understand and use power in a way that’s suitable for the organization. When conflicts arise, organizations, specifically their leaders need to have the skills to identify conflicts and address those conflicts using an appropriate conflict resolution technique. Robbins, S. P. , & Judge, T. A. (2011). Organizational Behavior (14th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.


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