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A Diagram for Orientation. The leader (trait, style, behavior, vision, charisma) . The task (from holistic to reductionism, needing discretion or direction). The led (follower) (motivations, readiness, attitudes). The organization (structural, political, moral purpose ).

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a diagram for orientation
A Diagram for Orientation

The leader

(trait, style, behavior, vision, charisma)

The task

(from holistic to reductionism, needing discretion or direction)

The led (follower)

(motivations, readiness, attitudes)

The organization

(structural, political, moral purpose)

four perspectives compared
Four perspectives compared
  • Personality – focus on individual characteristics
  • Formal – view the organization as a whole; a rigid hierarchical structure; one’s position in the structure
  • Democratic – view the organization as a whole; have a common purpose; facilitate a participative process
  • Political – view the subunits of an organization; no common purpose; power is essential; to be an advocate and power broker
what do you mean by political
What do you mean by “political”?
  • Pejorative understanding –political as a negative term that connotes parochial, sinister activity
  • Legalistic understanding—political activity as the formal actions of government officials and government agencies
  • Allocative understanding
political perspectives
Political Perspectives
  • Political perspectives view leadership as a process of advocating by actively engaging in bargaining, negotiation, and compromising. Power is central to the process.
the political perspective on organization
The Political Perspective on Organization
  • Organizations are coalitions composed of interest groups.
  • There are enduring differences among the groups in their values, preferences, beliefs, information, and perceptions of reality.
  • Most of the important decisions in organizations involve the allocation of scare resources: they are decisions about who gets what.
  • Because of scare resources and enduring differences, conflict is central to organizational dynamics, and power is the most important resource.
  • Organizational goals and decisions emerge from bargaining, negotiation, and jockeying for position among members of different coalitions.
weber s definition of power
Weber’s Definition of Power
  • “Power is the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his [sic] own will despite resistance, regardless of the basis on which this probability rests.” (cited in Burns, 1978, p. 12)
an overview of research
An overview of research
  • This perspective is primarily descriptive and explanatory. It is basically not normative and prescriptive.
  • There is a large body of literature which employs the political perspective to explain educational policies or events in general and leadership in particular.
  • A case-study approach is usually used for the research that employs the political perspective.
strength of the political perspective
Strength of the Political Perspective
  • This perspective represents an important antidote to the antiseptic rationality sometimes present in the structural perspective, as well as to the excessive optimism that appears in the democratic perspective on leadership.
limitation of the political perspective
Limitation of the Political Perspective
  • The political perspective is so thoroughly focused on politics that it underestimates the significance of both rational and collaborative processes.
  • The frame is normatively cynical and pessimistic. It overstates the inevitability of conflict and understates the potential for effective collaboration.
  • As a political leader in an organization, having a clear sense of self and comfort with the politics of the organization will open up opportunities of often precluded by rationality alone.
  • Political behavior is not a substitute for competence; on the other hand, effective leadership rests heavily on the acquisition of political skills.
reflection on political leadership
Reflection on Political Leadership

1. How do you perceive the political perspective on leadership?

To what extent do you feel this perspective describes your organization?

2. Where is morality in the political leadership? How do you understand political leadership in relation to transactional and transformational leadership?

3. Is it possible to have good political leadership? Why or why not?