Why do some leaders abuse power?

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According to the textbook definition, the power is defined as “influence and control exercised over others”. With positions of leadership, and management, comes immense power and it appears to sit more comfortably with some than others. It is recently recognised that firms need good leaders if they are to go forward properly. Their people will feel inspired, motivated and want to contribute. Leaders who are not using their power positively and abusing will act in a way which will be coercive and, in extremes, could be bullying.

Why do leaders do it? Why do leaders abuse power.

The answer lies in the need for control. In the current climate, organizations require more than simple supervision. Organizations need to have a “take a hike” approach to their leaders. Leaders must be perceived as uncontrollable. When leaders exhibit questionable competency of colleagues and tolerate misbehavior in their ranks, management must take corrective measures.

Some leaders believe that they must maintain a sense of power imbalance with those below them in the pyramid. Those below them in the leadership pecking order can often feel threatened by a rise in status or influence. As a result, they will attempt to regain lost status or gain influence by abusing their power. A clear example is that of an organization’s CEO. When he discovers that another Direction has been replaced, he’ll go out of his way to make it seem as if the replacement was done without his input. In simple words, insecurities drive leaders to abuse power.

Some leaders abuse power because they lack confidence in their ability to lead. The belief is that if their subordinates perform less than satisfactory work or are not given adequate directions, they’ll lose their status or leverage within the organization. In the “dog eat dog” culture of business, it’s all about who gets the benefit for a job done the fastest. Whether it’s done by one employee or a multitude of them, it’s all about who can produce the most output-for the shortest amount of time-at the lowest cost.

When a leaders starts to gain more and more power, there are less and less balances and checks for her or his actions. Once one attains a power level that no one questions , there is no longer a need to self reflect on the wrongs and rights and/or consequences of said actions. This is a general feeling above some leaders and so, without any accountability for words and actions, they don’t know boundary road not to cross, and they end up crossing everything.

You may need to examine yourself and determine if you’re susceptible to this type of behavior. Are you someone who needs approval constantly? Are you abusing your co-workers? Are you insulting them? Did you recently fire someone for no reason? Do you find that people will not give it to you unless you act in a way that they don’t like?

If you exhibit this characteristic, it’s probably time for you to step back and re-examine your own behavior. Are you overly self-absorbed and unwilling to let others help you get things done? Are you too willing to do whatever it takes even when it doesn’t come easy? Are you acting as if your way is the only right way, and that you can get away with any and all edicts?

Step back, trust your leadership and calmly handle situations. We are all answerable to someone. We are all accountable for our actions.

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