Leadership Portfolio Week 3
Queens University of Charlotte
This week the Leadership Portfolio Exercises greatly helped me understand more about myself as a leader. The component that resonated with me the most this week was learning more about my personal power profile and how my viewpoint on office politics affects my argumentativeness. I found that all of these exercise blended well together to paint a picture of myself as a leader. I also experienced an “a-ha” moment when correlating my responses to the argumentative profile with the office politics viewpoint.
The specific principles I learned about my own leadership through the exercises were reveled through the “Personal Power Profile” (Hackman & Johnson, 2013, p. 138). I came out extremely strong with “Referent Power”, which Hackman and Johnson (2013) define as “role model power”, (p. 141). Hackman and Johnson say that one should use referent power carefully. It takes time to build loyalty and respect and one shouldn’t take it lightly when it is earned. One example of how referent power plays a role is when a manager asks an employee to work overtime as a “favor”. While the employee may do it once, or even twice, it will grow old quickly. This hit home with me because I think that my own manager uses “referent power” and he has overused this power. Last week there were five different instances in which he emailed me, “Important: Time Sensitive” and asked me to drop everything. The first time, I dropped everything willingly. The second time, I felt like I was experiencing deja-vu, but I still gave it 100 percent. The third through fifth time, I was weary. I respect him, and he holds legitimate power, reward power and expert power. However, I think that one should use the “urgent” card carefully, as it can be a discouraging if overused.
I learned a great deal about my strengths and weaknesses through the assessments. When I completed the exercise, “Argumentative Scale” I discovered that I greatly avoid arguing about controversial issues (Fairhurst, 2010, p. 77). It literally makes me sick to my stomach if I feel that I have to enter a situation in which I know I’ll have conflict. In fact, as I sit here writing this, I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach because tomorrow I have a four-hour meeting with a co-worker to hash out issues we’ve experienced in our communications and processes. We have completely different styles of communicating. If I were to guess how she would complete the argumentative scale, I would place her in the high range for argumentativeness. She likes to argue over issues and she derives energy from debates. I, on the other hand, fall low on the scale and I abhor conflict. Instead of feeling energetic and enthusiastic when I argue, I feel drained. Hackman and Johnson (2013) say, “Argumentation is important to leaders at every level,” (p. 176). This is definitely a weakness I have as a leader. I have recognized recently in my role that my lack of assertiveness is causing challenges for me at work. I don’t like to speak up and state an opinion that is against the grain. I also don’t like to get involved in conflict, I’d rather acquiesce to the other party’s demands. On the plus side, my lack of argumentativeness often places me as a mediator in conflicts and I’m able to see both sides of an issue.
I believe my lack of argumentativeness has something to do with my viewpoint of the political structure at my organization as well. When I completed the Perceptions of Organizational Politics Scale (POPS) I discovered that I believe that negative politics operate in my workplace (Hackman & Johnson, 2013, p. 146). I have worked for my current organization for eleven years and I have seen negative politics play a role in promotions, career advancement and career satisfaction. I have been in both political favor and on the outskirts in different points in my career and it’s tough. I have always said that if I could just keep my head down and do my job, I’d be extremely happy, but “playing politics” is difficult. Hackman and Johnson (2013) say, “playing politics” has a negative connotation associated with betrayal and ulterior motives (p. 144). Being on both the positive and negative side of office politics is stressful. If you are benefitting positively, there is the stress that you will fall out of favor, because you know all too well of the short memory of those in power. And, if you are on the “outs”, no amount of hard work will enable you to overcome an unfairly weighted situation. I have seen far too many situations in which when one expresses an opinion against the grain of those in favor, they are suddenly on the “outs”. This is why I tend to lean more towards going with the grain than arguing my point.
Finally, when evaluating how I can put these learning’s into practice in my role I will evaluate the cost and benefit to the power types before implementing them with my team. While I currently use referent and reward power, I need to ensure that I don’t overuse my referent power. While referent power has a high follower satisfaction and performance, it takes a long time to develop and it’s not as effective to gain obedience.
Hackman, M. Z. and Johnson, C. E. (2013). Leadership: A Communication Perspective. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.: Kindle Edition.