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The two faces of leadership

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A number of years ago, the psychologist David McClelland, in his studies of managerial motivation, identified two types of power: egoistic (using others for personal gain) and social (facilitating group cooperation and effort for the achievement of the general good). Clearly, the power motive is intimately related to the concept of leadership. However, over the last two or three decades, a school of thought has arisen which equates leadership with "doing the right thing". Defining leadership in such an ethical light is both misleading and dangerous. Leadership, as influence skill, possesses the ability to induce both positive and negative results. A failure to acknowledge and examine the "dark side" of leadership can distort efforts to learn about leadership, may encourage development of a blind-eye approach to examining the results of influence attempts, and might turn well-intentioned groups into lemmings heading for the sea. Authenticity requires a balanced discussion.

Keywords: Ethics; Influence; Leadership

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-03-01

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