Roles. We all assume them: sometimes we even play them; and at times
we change them and we're not even aware of it. We all have a
preferred role as a leader and as a follower, and as long as
situations are stable, we tend to operate within those roles.
However, if the formality of the organization changes or if the
pressure changes, there is a strong tendency for our roles to
change. Role interaction among peers is important, but the vertical
interaction through the chain of command is crucial to our success,
and for that reason this presentation will deal only with the
Organizational life, both business and social, has long been
explained through the use of behavioral types. We've been exposed to
Theory X, Theory Y, and Theory Z. Behavioral scientists have
explained Type A - Type B to us. All this information has been
presented in the hope that by detailing a set of behavioral traits
we can understand human interaction. Unfortunately, human beings
cannot be so easily categorized, because their behavior is dynamic,
not static, and it is dependent on those with whom they are
interacting. The organizational roles that we will explore may have
names that are new to you but I am sure you will recognize the
We will discuss three leader roles and three follower (subordinate)
roles. These roles will represent the end points and the mid-point
of each respective behavioral spectrum. The characteristics of each
role will be discussed prior to examining the dynamics of each
possible role interaction. However, it is critical to first
understand the primary criteria for role selection. This criteria is
the individual's view of POWER and OBLIGATION. Our perspective of
these two concepts, more than anything else, causes us to select our
preferred roles. Before discussing the actual roles themselves,
let's improve our understanding of these two concepts.
Power—The Control of Resources
A. Initially, power would seem to be related to the possession of
money or resources, or to the capability of forcing one's will upon
others. Notice how this superficial concept can be enlarged by the
1. Power is influence upon the choice process of others. We exert
social power upon others if their behavior can be controlled.
Influencing decisions often involves inducing others to change their
order of priorities. This kind of influence is acquired and
maintained by controlling rewards and punishments.
2. Power is the control over decisions. The more decisions an
individual controls, the more opportunities he finds for completing
his tasks successfully. Every time a decision can be made without
asking permission, power is gained. Likewise, if permission is asked
by others, power is gained. While control of behavior is the
ultimate goal, controlling decisions is an important first step.
3. Power is the ability to effect change in situations where change
otherwise would not occur. Like the wind, it cannot be seen
directly, but its influence can be gauged by the bending of huge
"trees." Power makes things happen in visible and predictable ways.
B. Sources of power are those forces which tend to redistribute
1. Power is derived from physical strength and size. This is often
found to be a characteristic of leaders.
2. A more rational source of power is expertise and intelligence.
Competency and wisdom are ultimately respected, irrespective of the
degree to which they are utilized by the organization.
3. Knowledge is power. Knowledge of processes make it possible for a
manager to determine when to intervene. The active manager
anticipates decisions before they become problems.
4. The most important source of power is the general ability to met
the needs of others. In our "psychological economy," this ability
becomes a solid base for power.
To be Continued
For balance of this article, click on the below link:
Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 02
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