Power and force versus motivation and persuasion

Much of the interest in, or the obsession with, leadership has to do with its outcomes, and particularly its negative ones.28 Events of the last century confirm it: The world has witnessed the direct and indirect impact on millions of rulers such as Idi Amin, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse Tung. Totalitarian rulers are adept in the use of power and force. Although leadership involves power, it is more than power. Power as leadership is not the same as power in leadership. There are deeper and more complex relationships between leaders and followers that transcend power.

There are physical and evolutionary roots to the use of power, as discussed in the preceding section. Powerful people are known to use their bodies to convey authority in at least two ways. There's the famous leaning-forward pose, as in the iconic 1957 photograph of Lyndon Johnson bullying a shorter colleague, Senator Theodore Green. There's also a more subtle way to convey power, which is to occupy as much space as the body can—feet on the desk, fingers interlaced behind the head, elbows expansive.


U.S. Senators Lyndon Johnson and Theodore Green, 1957.

Even though power makes many people apprehensive, it is a reality in organizational and social life, in settings ranging from government to financial institutions to high-technology companies. Henry Kissinger, U.S. President ...

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