Use of Force is not Leadership

 Use of Force is not Leadership

In my Army career I came across a large number of commanders, who had a false notion that they are good and firm leaders. They exercised what we can call as ‘Coercive Command’. Actually they were no leaders at all. In an unorganized group not one member would have listened to them, forget about following them! Remember, leaders have willing followers, not coerced followers! Some of them had pretty successful careers too. They would be wondering, post retirement, as to why even their children do not listen to them, forget about others! All of us would have come across such teachers, principals and bosses in our lives, who people would not like to even see, once they were out of their appointment of power.

Why Use of Force is not Leadership

Leadership qualities are internal to a person. It has nothing to do with the appointment, or social position of authority. Power acquired by appointment is not internal to a person but external.

Example:  Use of Force is not Leadership

‘X’ teacher is appointed as ‘Principal’ because of ‘skill’ as teacher, ‘administrative competence’ because of experience, and reputation of ‘integrity’ and ‘impartiality’ Now  ‘X’ has the above qualities which are internal to his person. He can use them to enhance his ability to lead. In case there is a function to be organized, he distributes responsibilities equally, works with total commitment himself. He enhances his leadership by doing so. Conversely in a similar situation, he assigns tougher duties to people whom he dislikes, gives easier work to his coterie  and makes money on the sly, and himself does nothing. To get (unfair) work done from the teachers, who resent his partial behaviour, he coerces them to perform by using threats like: cut in salary, non grant of CL, or whatever he can do in the capacity of ‘Principal’. When he does this he degrades his personal leadership power and ‘borrows’ power from his appointment as ‘Principal’, which is external to him. The more he ‘borrows’ this power, the more his personal power degrades.

What should Effective Leaders do?

Whenever you are in a leadership role, use your personal qualities to get things done and keep enhancing the power of your leadership. Remember that whenever you ‘borrow’ power from your position of authority you are degrading your personal leadership. Parents, who coerce their children to do things, degrade their leadership. Commanding officers of military establishments who use the threats of ‘punishment’, ‘non-grant of leave’, ‘poor confidential report’ degrade their personal leadership by ‘borrowing’ powers of these threats. They just need to set personal examples of conduct and be fair and impartial. They will not need to ‘borrow’ any power of coercive threats to get things done and will enhance their personal leadership!

Conclusion: Use of Force is not Leadership

Coercion can be used to get things done but it is not leadership. Leadership is by example and can never be attained by force!

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