Obligation—The Load for Which Power Is the Energy
A. Obligation is a difficult concept to grasp. While power has been
thoroughly researched, little attention has been given to
obligation. The duty of accepting one's obligation is only vaguely
understood. The following definitions will help explain the concept.
1. Obligation is an activity directed toward the satisfaction of
needs presented by others. By addressing himself to the needs of
others, one is responding to obligation. The less choice one has in
this matter, the greater is his obligation.
2. Obligations are duties. Many of these duties are the result of
needs generated by the group of which we are a part. Experience
indicates that often times duties are enforced by fear of reprisal
or promise of reward.
3. Obligation is a task to be carried by the followers or the
leader. Because power is needed for change, obligations become those
elements which would not change without it. Work, as we know it, can
be classified as an obligation.
B. Obligations are accumulated in various ways. They are accepted by
an individual to meet his needs or the needs of others.
1. The dependent nature of man leads to one source of obligation.
Man's needs have become so complex that he must depend on others for
fulfillment. The acceptance of obligation is the usual price he must
pay for need satisfaction provided by another individual.
2. A major source of obligation is the result of social exchange. To
acquire power, an individual must be prepared to accept obligation.
In some cases, the acceptance of obligation is an investment
promising future pay-offs in power.
3. Customs and traditions play an important part in the assignment
of obligation. Precedents become the rule which only the brave feel
competent to violate. The longer a group is in existence, the
stronger the obligations associated with its mode of operations.
4. The most visible, and perhaps compelling, source of obligation is
rules, regulations, and laws with which we must continually contend.
While power and obligation are the basis for role selection, it is
necessary to understand the superordinate (leader) roles and the
subordinate (follower) roles individually prior to examining the
role interactions. The roles will be defined in terms that relate to
power and obligation.
A. Superordinate roles.
1. Authoritarian. The authoritarian confronts his people and often
creates conflicts. He tends to be autocratic in behavior and
subjective in thinking. This person seeks out problems, blames
others, and maintains control by being a "no-sayer."
a. The Authoritarian has a strong character, and prides himself on
his decisiveness. His idea of a well functioning organization is
based on strong leadership and submissive subordinates.
b. The Authoritarian keeps POWER and gives away OBLIGATION.
2. Permissive. The Permissive manager assumes that his subordinates
need help and shielding from a hostile world. The does not want to
appear bossy or snobbish, and has a strong need to be liked by his
subordinates. This person is a problem seeker, self-blamer, and a
a. The Permissive manager is subjective and directs his frustration
at himself and the system. However, he is soconcerned with pleasing
people that he fails to make important decisions. Because of this
position, the Permissive manager hopes his subordinates will take
the responsibility that he is unable to assign.
b. The Permissive manager gives away POWER and keeps OBLIGATION.
3. Equalitarian. The Equalitarian or Participator emerges as a "cool
operator." He is rational, objective, and seeks solutions. Because
his behavior is less extreme, he tends toward less dramatic
results. This role is not blame-oriented and directs frustration at
the situation, not people.
a. The Equalitarian is a secure person and avoids manipulative
behavior. His focus is the achievement off organizational goals
utilizing his employees as useful parts of the work environment.
b. The Equalitarian is able to create a sense of OBLIGATION in his
employees and gives away enough POWER to complete the duty.
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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