The need for power
McClelland (1961), identified Power as one of three needs
related to management behaviour, the other two being Achievement and Affiliation. Ironically,
McClelland claims to have identified a strong power orientation amongst Psychologists! The need
for Power is an urge to control others: to be able to influence them and make them do things
which perhaps they would not have done if left to themselves. Along with this they accumulate
the symbols and status of power and the prestige they consider to go along with it.
McClelland identified four stages within the power orientation:
- Drawing inner strength from others - being a loyal follower and serving the power of other
- Strengthening oneself - beginning to play the power game, collecting symbols of status,
one-upmanship, trying to dominate situations;
- Self-assertiveness - becoming more aggressive and trying to manipulate situations so as
to use other people to achieve one's own targets;
- Acting as an instrument of higher authority - identifying with some organisation or
authority system and employing the methods learnt in stages 2 and 3 but now being able to
claim formal legitimacy.
Blake and Mouton (1964) would feature the kind of person who maximises this kind of approach
as having the 'Authority - Obedience' style of management: concentrating on maximising
production through the exercise of personal authority and power.
This style of management is described by Chell (1987):
" such a leader combines a high concern for production with a low concern for people.
He or she concentrates on maximising production by exercising power and authority, and
achieving control over people by dictating what they should do and how they should do it.
Typically he or she will 'drive him - or herself and others', investigate situations to ensure
control and that others are not making mistakes; defend own ideas and opinions even though it
may mean rejecting those of others; deal with conflict by either trying to cut it off or
winning own position; make own decisions; is rarely influenced by others; and is not afraid to
pinpoint other people's weaknesses and failures."