“We have good corporals and good sergeants and some good lieutenants and captains, and those are far more important than good generals.” (Gen William T. Sherman)
It does not matter whether you are a leader or follower, what is important is to achieve goals and objectives. In an article by Lt Col Latour and Lt Col Rast; in the military circle, the role of leader and follower is fulfills simultaneously in the service and throughout military career. Naturally, leadership evolve, it is in some ways aprentiship or pupilage going by Biblical events. I strongly believe if you want to be a great leader, you must first subject yourself to become great follower. Let look at some remarkable events in the bible:
Joshua was a humble follower and he learn the rudiment of leadership from Moses; his leader for more than forty years before he led the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua separated himself from the “average” 40 years earlier when spying out the land. Elisha was a diligent servant and follower to Prophet Elijah for ten years before he took up the mantle of leadership and went on to perform even more miracles. Let us not forget about Apostle Peter who was among the disciple that followed Jesus for three years. Though he made a lot of mistakes as human, he spread the good news like wide fire with his fellow-disciples. Unfortunately, history worst leaders never learned to follow, in fact they either came through military coup or through a manipulated election process; as a result, they became tyrants, making the lives of their own followers miserable. It is at this juncture present day follower must wake up and play a significant role to ensure that dubious, mentally lazy and unprepared individuals are not allow by the followers to perpetrate themselves in any leadership position, because in most cases, docile and easily compromised followers determine the quality of leaders that rule over the people.
In the word of Barbara Kellerman, author of Followership: How Followers are Creating Change and Changing Leaders, says that significant shifts in technology and culture have changed that dynamic, giving followers more power. And there’s a lot you can learn about being a good leader by learning to be a good follower.
According to Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D.; “good followers support and aid the leader when he or she is doing the right thing, and stand up to the leader: having the courage to let the leader know when he or she is doing something wrong or headed in the wrong direction.” It simply means followers can “make or break” the leader influence on how goals are accomplished. In this sense, as I mention before, both leader and follower must possess those characteristics that make great leader and followership.
For our purpose, I would like to have a working and distinguishing definition and meaning of power and authority for better understanding of the reader. Many known scholars have devoted their time to give an acceptable definition on the word “power”, especially in world politics. For instance America is always refers to as super power. People understanding of power connotes different meaning, for instance people look at power as control over resources, influence, strength, political and economic control, energy/electricity and so on. Power is the ability and capacity to cause or prevent an action and make things happen. It is a discretion or initiative to act or not to act.
In the word of Robert Linthicum; let expatiate further by looking at power as the ability to act. “Ability” consists of having the skill, aptitude and/or competence to carry out the action one wishes to undertake. Thus, to use our military illustration once again, if one has adequate rifles and ammunition in abundance, but no one in the unit knows how to fire the rifles or can’t hit “the side of a barn”, they don’t have the ability to act. Capacity without ability still creates a powerless situation.
Secondly, we look at capacity to act. “Capacity” means, “the facility to produce, perform or deploy”. For a group to have the capacity to act means that they have developed or gathered the resources together in order to exercise power. A military illustration makes the concept of capacity clear. If a military unit has been issued rifles, but hasn’t been given any ammunition, then they don’t have the capacity to act. Even though they might want to attack the enemy and are expert marksmen, the absence of ammunition means that they don’t have the resources at their disposal that enables them to act.
Authority can be used to mean the right to exercise power given by the State; in the form of government, judges, and police officers and so on, or by academic knowledge of an area (someone can be an authority on a subject). For our purpose, we will adopt the former meaning of the word authority, which is the right to exercise power. Business dictionary defines authority as institutionalized and legal power inherent in a particular job, function, or position that is meant to enable its holder to successfully carry out his or her responsibilities.
In administration, authority and power are often use interchangeably, but the fact remains there meaning still differ: while power is defined as “the ability to influence somebody to do something that he/she would not have done”, authority refers to a claim of legitimacy, the justification and right to exercise that power. For example, while a mob has the power to punish a criminal, for example by lynching, people who believe in the rule of law consider that only a court of law has the authority to punish a criminal legally as the law says. (Wikipedia)
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN POWER AND AUTHORITY
For emphasis purpose, I would like to digress a little in doing justices to the misconception and erroneous impression people made between power and authority especially as a basis of leadership. First power can be personal derive from your personality or by your expert knowledge, for instance; medical doctor has power over their patients, same with lawyers over their client. Power is the ability of a person or a group to influence the beliefs and actions of other people. It is the ability to influence events. Power can also be legitimate or official power. This power comes from a higher authority.
Authority is derived from constituted and legal organisation. It is duties and a responsibility that is delegated to holder of position in a bureaucratic structure. It is the right given to a manager to achieve the objectives of the organisation. It is a right to get the things done through others. It is a right to take decisions. It is a right to give orders to the subordinates and to get obedience from them. A manager cannot do his work without authority.
By now I can say we have a basis of leadership concept.In our next series, we shall be looking into what leadership is not. Your opinion and feedback is expected on the comment column. Do you like the piece? Kindly share.