Prof. Northouse points out on page two that many definitions of “Leadership” have been identified. I think that count is overly modest. Ralph Stogdill observed in 1974 “There are almost as many definitions of leadership as there are persons who have attempted to define the concept.” So…

Question #1:

What do you think of Prof. Northouse’s definition of Leadership? Is it detailed enough? Complete? Anything missing?

In other of his publications, Prof. Northouse states that people crave leadership. An interesting observation. Do you recall Attribution Theory from your Organizational Behavior class? (If not, go ahead and look it up… Krietner and Kinicki say on page 198 of their Org Behavior book that “…behavior can be attributed either to internal factors within a person (such as ability and effort) or to external factors within the environment (such as task difficulty, help from others, and good/bad luck).” Recall, too, the Fundamental Attribution Bias—the tendency to attribute another person’s behavior to his or her personal characteristics (internal factors). Krietner and Kinicki cite on page 199 of their text: “A recent study of shareholders similarly showed that shareholders attributed the price of stocks more to CEO behavior and less to market fluctuations.”

Question #2:

Is leadership nothing more than a trap of the Fundamental Attribution Bias? Do we see a coach with a winning season and proclaim him or her a great leader? Do we observe a CEO who boosts stock price and we bestow the mantle of Leadership on him or her?

Kudos to Professor Northouse for coming as close as I’ve seen to getting French and Raven correct on page 10. If you reflect back to your Principles of Management text, or your Organizational Behavior text, I’ll wager that those authors addressed five Social Bases of Power. Professor Northouse adds Information Power back into the mix. As Bertram Raven stated in the Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 1992, Vol.7, No.2, 217-244 article “A Power/Interaction Model of interpersonal Influence: French and Raven Thirty Years Later”: “Originally, our theory proposed six bases of power, resources which an influencing agent can utilize in changing the beliefs, attitudes, or behaviors of a target: Reward, Coercion, Legitimacy, Expertise, Reference, and Information… Actually, as some readers will note, Information was listed only as a form of influence in the 1959 paper (French and Raven, 1959), but was included subsequently (since Raven, 1965) among the six bases of power.” (Page 218.)

Perhaps because we live in the “Information Age” it is tempting to modify Raven’s work to read “…possessing knowledge that others want or need.” (Northouse, page 10.) Nevertheless, it does a disservice to French and Raven. Raven states, in the previous citation, “Informational power, or persuasion, is based on the information, or logical argument, that the influencing agent can present to the target in order to implement change.” (Page 221.)

Not to worry. Raven continues on page 222: “The six bases of power are, or (sic) course, not the only means which people use in influencing one another. There are several other approaches which are less direct.”

Question #3:

What other approach have you witnessed in which people influenced another? I’d be particularly pleased if you kept it to the boss/subordinate scenario, but will accept other situations.

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