Two extremes of leadership

The two extremes of leadership listed in the table below are from Carl Rogers’ book On Personal Power: Inner Strength and Its Revolutionary Impact (pp. 91—92). The leadership aspects listed in the left column are not simply theoretical ideas, but grew out of Carl Rogers’ clinical experience and research. Carl Rogers was a diagnostic-prescriptive clinical psychologist who came to trust the potential for self-understanding and self-direction residing in his clients. Over the years the person-centered approach found new applications, not only in therapy, but also in education and administration. Most notably the person-centered approach alters the thinking about power and control between persons.

Person-centered leadership focuses on achieving influence and impact through shared power and authority, instead of through coercion. The encouragement of people’s self-responsibility and self-direction directly stimulates their engagement, learning, and creativity. However, this is not an approach for the fainthearted. Granting a group pseudo-control is a devastating experience for all involved. Person-centered leadership must, above all else, be genuine.

Influence and Impact Power and Control
Giving autonomy to persons and groups Making decisions
Freeing people to “do their thing” Giving orders
Expressing own ideas and feelings as one aspect of the group data Directing subordinates’ behavior
Facilitating learning Keeping own ideas and feelings “close to the vest”
Stimulating independence, in thought and action Exercising authority over people and organization
Accepting the “unacceptable” innovative creations that emerge Dominating when necessary
Delegating, giving full responsibility Coercing when necessary
Offering feedback, and receiving it Teaching, instructing, advising
Encouraging and relying on self-evaluation Evaluating others
Finding rewards in the development and achievements of others Giving rewards
Being rewarded by own achievements

Published by Jan Höglund

Jan Höglund has over 35 years experience in different roles as software developer, project manager, line manager, consultant, and researcher. This is his personal blog. A common theme is his search for better ways of working together.

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