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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Charismatic leadership and narcissism

Why does charismatic leadership sometimes lead to disastrous negative consequences? Explain, with reference to the four charismatic theories, how the influence processes combine with leader behavior to produce disastrous results.
Charismatic leadership will likely lead to disaster if there are no other qualifications of leadership such as competence or integrity. For charismatic leadership to be used without the benefits of the other traits appeals to the worst of human tendencies. The followers of such leadership do not make rational decisions and instead base decisions on personal identification, “which involves a follower's desire to please and imitate the leader” (Yukl, 2012, p.312). Yukl offers one psychoanalytic explanation, “followers suffering from fear, guilt, or alienation may experience a feeling of euphoric empowerment and transcendence by submerging their identity in that of a seemingly superhuman leader” (2012, p.315)
Identify a charismatic leader—religious, political, military, or social—who caused harm to his subordinates or followers through his influence. Why do you think this leader was initially able to attract and control his followers?
President Obama is such a “leader”. His actions have damaged both the country as a political entity and his party at the polling place. His election was brought on by the failure of the Bush presidency; Yukl states that “charisma occurs during a social crisis when a leader emerges with a radical vision that offers a solution to the crisis and attracts followers who believe in the vision” (2012, p.310).
Which characteristics of this leader led to the harm-causing behavior? How could the facilitating conditions have been used for positive charisma?
Obama's reactions to events have shown his lack of both integrity or competence, prime requirements of leadership success. There is a exacerbating issue of charismatic leadership: “Narcissism—a personality trait encompassing grandiosity, arrogance, self-absorption, entitlement, fragile self-esteem, and hostility—is an attribute of many powerful leaders. Narcissistic leaders have grandiose belief systems and leadership styles, and are generally motivated by their needs for power and admiration rather than empathetic concern for the constituents and institutions they lead “(Rosenthal & Pittinsky, 2006, abstract). Yukl gives one of many problems caused by charismatic leadership; “Denial of problems and failures reduces organizational learning (2012, p. 319). We will use just this one issue as an example of the many in the Obama administration. In this example we will look at Fast and Furious, in which three American lawmen, and hundreds of Mexican citizens were murdered as a consequence. ATF both knowingly allowed weapons flow into Mexico and denied any participation (Fisher, 2013, p.170). Obama's justification for invoking executive privilege to cover up this issue was contradicted by an OIG (Office of the Inspector General) investigation (Fisher, 2013, p.181).
Can this leader's charisma be explained by attribution theory or the self-concept theory? Provide reasons for your choice.
Attribution theory relies in part on the leaders “expertise” (Yukl, 2012, p. 311). However, we may apply “expertise” here as qualities that appeal to the sort of people that follow charismatic leaders. Yukl provides some of these; novel and appealing vision, emotional appeals to values, confidence and optimism, and finally, unconventional behavior (2012, pp. 311,312) Yukl contends that some theorists believe that attributions of charisma are limited to followers who lack self-esteem and a clear self-identity (2012, p. 318)
Can charismatic leadership evolve into transformational leadership? How are these theories different from transactional leadership theories?
Success is possible for a narcissistic charismatic with the expertise to make good decisions” (Yukl, 2012, p.320); however, for transformational leadership to happen requires other traits of successful leadership such as integrity of competence.
Why were followers influenced so powerfully by this leader? Was it a result of psychodynamic processes or social contagion?
Yukl explains: “The intense personal identification of followers with such leaders is explained in terms of psychodynamic processes such as regression, transference, and projection. Regression involves a return to feelings and behaviors that were typical of a younger age (2012, p. 315). In addition, Yukl states “Followers who lack a clear self-identity and are confused and anxious about their lives are more attracted to a strong leader with a personalized power orientation who can provide a clear social identity for them as disciples or loyal supporters” (2012, p. 318) Another concept that can explain such follower behavior is social identification, in which one regards “membership as one of their most important social identities” (2012, p. 313). However, emotional contagion, in which a “leader who is very positive and enthusiastic can influence the mood of followers” (Yukl, 2012, p. 314), can also be a factor.

Fisher, L. (2013). The law: Obama’s executive privilege and Holder’s contempt: “Operation Fast and Furious.” Presidential Studies Quarterly, 43(1), 167–185. Retrieved November 18, 2014 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/1368907285/22F8A1FB92E24FEDPQ/18?accountid=87314

Oakley, B. (2009, August 3). Why most journalists are democrats: A View from the Soviet socialist trenches. Psychology Today. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/scalliwag/200908/why-most-journalists-are-democrats-view-the-soviet-socialist-trenches

Rosenthal, S. A., & Pittinsky, T. L. (2006). Narcissistic leadership. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(6), 617–633. doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2006.10.005

Yukl, G. A. (2012). Leadership in Organizations, 8th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from http://digitalbookshelf.southuniversity.edu/books/9781256650225

What challenges do you foresee in overseeing the correctional officers? Why? How can you apply the principles of the path-goal theory to ensure the success of the task entrusted to you?
The immediate challenge I see in this environment is that I expect to lose more officers due to the leave policies; “subordinates will not accept a decision made in an autocratic manner” (Amtmann & Evans, 2001, para. 34). Officers are under a great deal of stress in the best of correctional settings; “For the correctional officer prison life is filled with confrontation, mendaciousness and force. To be challenged mentally and physically and to have your integrity tested is an event that reoccurs over and over for the correctional officer”(Micieli, 2008, p.5). To potentially counter this, I may be able to use path-goal principles; “leaders can motivate subordinates by influencing their perceptions about the likely consequences of different levels of effort. Subordinates will perform better when they have clear and accurate role expectations, they perceive that a high level of effort is necessary to attain task objectives, they are optimistic that it is possible to achieve the task objectives, and they perceive that high performance will result in beneficial outcomes” (Yukl, 2012, p.165). In order to use these principles, I have to be able to show my officers that the high performance in “gutting out” the overwork and stress will lead to a beneficial outcome like keeping their jobs. Unfortunately, the system is not giving me the resources to do anything past feeding CO's into a meat-grinder. But I can put my best face on it, and pitch in to give my subordinates as much rest as possible. “Ours is not to wonder why...”
On the other hand, “some situations have so many neutralizers that it is difficult or impossible for a leader to succeed” (Yukl, 2012, p.166).
How will you use supportive and directive leadership to motivate the correctional officers assigned to you?
In a dangerous work environment, “supportive leadership increases subordinate confidence, effort, and satisfaction”(Yukl, 2012, p.166). I would minimize directive leadership methods, as they add stress to already over stressed CO personnel. Finn identifies supervisor demands as a cause of CO stress. (2000, p. 13).
Can you apply the situational leadership theory to improve the relationship with your officers? If yes, how? If not, then why? Can situational leadership be applied to the inmates?
Using situational leadership theory will be the best practice for dealing with both guards and inmates. The mediating variables will vary from day to day. Although I had stated I would minimize directive leadership with the guards, there would be times it would be the best approach, and the guard would benefit from it as well, even if he did not appreciate it at the time.
How can participative and achievement-oriented leadership motivate these officers? Can it be used to motivate the inmates?
Participative leadership would improve officer morale. Roy, Novak, & Miksaj-Todorovic cite “dissatisfaction with their share in decision making processes” as one cause of burnout in older correctional officers (2010, p. 190). Achievement-oriented methods would work as well; Roy et al also cited “ loss of purpose and meaning” as a similar cause of burnout. We have already seen that achievement-oriented methods work with the inmates as their move to a minimum security unit as a reward.
What are the situational variables that might affect the application of the path-goal theory of leadership?
Some variables include the potential loss of additional officers, increasing workload; inmate assaults on officers, adding to stress levels, and domestic situations adding to officer stress. “Shift work and overtime can create stress by preventing officers from attending important family functions” (Finn, 2000, p. 16)

Amtmann, J., & Evans, R. (2001). Decision-making processes of correctional and educational leaders. Corrections Compendium. Retrieved August 18, 2014 from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Decision-making+processes+of+correctional+and+educational+leaders.-a082510862

Finn, P. (2000). Addressing correctional officer stress: Programs and strategies. Issues and practices. U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED449457

Micieli, J. (2008). Stress and the effects of working in a high security prison. Rockville, MD: National Institute of Justice. Retrieved August 18, 2014 from http://www.nyscorrections.org/224105.pdf

Roy, S., Novak, T., & Miksaj-Todorovic, L. (2010). Job burnout among prison staff in the United States and Croatia: A preliminary comparative study. International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences, 5(1). Retrieved August 21, 2014 from http://www.sascv.org/ijcjs/pdfs/royetaljcjs2010vol5iss1.pdf

Yukl, G. A. (2012). Leadership in Organizations, 8th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from http://digitalbookshelf.southuniversity.edu/books/9781256650225

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