The dynamics and complexity of human interaction are increasingly being studied in order to achieve results and effectiveness in actions. However, leaders from all sectors of society face difficulties in overcoming these challenges in a world in constant transformation, where people are increasingly more distant and at the same time so close to each other. Information and the situation changes every day, and it is critical to be able to respond to today’s dynamic transitions. In this context, having militaries that can excel in today’s complex operating environments, in the face of hard-to-define threats and uncertain objectives, is critical to the success of the Land Force. However, there are many physical and psychological challenges faced when the military is exposed to stressful situations. How can one lead in contemporary times? With volatile and complex scenarios, what tools does the leader have to keep leading? In this way, the importance of knowing how to apply power and influence within the Military Organizations (OM) of the Brazilian Army (EB) grows.
In order to lead in an OM, much is said about the leader’s attributes and competencies. One also thinks about the OM management, because it is crucial to follow all laws and regulations in order to avoid wear and tear during the execution of missions. However, there are tacit factors such as power and influence that turn the gears of this process. It is not possible to command without being vested with power. It is observed, however, that using the power of the position that has been conferred to the individual requires much more than just giving orders. It is necessary to recognize the importance of self-knowledge and self-control, as well as the other attributes of emotional intelligence. For the efficient and effective application of power and influence, it is crucial for the individual to develop emotional intelligence skills.
For much of society, military leadership is about giving orders and promptly obeying them without question. In reality, this mental model includes the understanding that hesitation in obedience by the subordinate means inevitable punishment or other administrative or criminal proceedings. However, when one seeks to achieve results with maximum effectiveness and commitment, a good dose of power and influence is required, because otherwise the scenario described above would certainly be the most likely outcome, in addition to low professional performance and, consequently, the non-fulfillment of missions.
In the complex contemporary operational environments where the military is currently inserted, leadership grows in importance. The result obtained can be acquired through the subordinate’s commitment to the situation presented or through the leader’s influence focused on obtaining obedience from his subordinates. The focus on obedience is aimed at modifying the subordinate’s behavior. In this way, effective and short-term results can be achieved. It is the type of approach that is also used in situations that require a quick response due to time constraints. Orders are followed because they are specific and usually direct missions that only require a specific action or behavior.
On the other hand, long-term and permanent transformations require a different approach. To reach the hearts and minds of their subordinates and really influence the organizational environment, leaders must act in a way that goes beyond behavioral transformations motivated by mere obedience to orders received. In this vein, there is no doubt that the followers analyze the authority invested by means of laws and regulations that support it as the one to be followed and obeyed. However, the ability of that authority, using emotional intelligence, to influence through its power requires nuances that few military personnel know or have researched in order to benefit from this knowledge. Therefore, understanding how power and influence are developed and shown to be relevant to the OM is critical to the success of the EB.
In an OM, the best established organizational environment is one where the leader obtains commitment from the team. However, this is only possible if the leader knows how to use the power he has at his disposal. In this case, power is defined as the ability to influence others and bring about change. Conversely, influence is the application of power. When there is no power, influence practically does not exist. Without influence, it is not possible to establish the relationship between obtaining obedience or the individual’s commitment to the leader’s action.
Some questions may be asked: Where does the leader’s power come from? According to the analysis of Dr. Gary Yukl and Cecelia M. Falbe, there are two sources of power that the leader uses to obtain results: his position (power of position) and his skills as an individual (personal power). The position source means that the origin of your power comes from your position, role, or other designations for your disposition within an organizational structure. The power of the position generates the subordinate’s obedience. Therefore, the personal source comes from the trust and respect that the members of an organization have for their leader. It is strongly connected with experience, personality, and the leader’s abilities to interact with his team. Thus, personal power is that which develops the commitment of those being led.
2.1 POWER OF POSITION
As in all sectors of society, EB OMs have their position power stemming from the individual’s occupation of a formal job or position within the organizational structure. According to the taxonomy of social psychologists John RP French and Bertram Raven, position power is divided into the subcategories: legitimate, reward, coercive, and information. Importantly, when this power is applied, using it in combination with the right influence techniques, it can be very effective in changing the behavior of team members. It can be said that it is appropriate for obtaining obedience from those being led.
2.1.1 Legitimate Power
When it comes to legitimate power, it is correct to say that it comes from the leader’s formal or official authority. It is characterized by individuals who influence others through orders and requests that are consistent and appropriate to their position. In this subcategory of position power, the followers respond because they believe that the leader has the right to make requests or give orders, and the subordinates; in turn, have the obligation to comply with such orders. Command of an OM, for example, is a form of legitimate power. According to ADRP 6-22, the United States Army (US) leadership manual, command is the authority that a commander in the military service legally exercises over subordinates by virtue of his rank or assignments. In the EB, Campaign Manual C20-10 – Military Leadership brings its understanding of the power of rank when it brings that the commander is vested with power:
Every commander is vested with a legal authority to perform his duties, that is, he holds a power that has been delegated to him through laws and regulations, or by force of a situation (MD, 2011, p. 3-1).
Still in this understanding, that the commander of an organization receives delegated powers through laws and regulations, it is understood that the individual commands using the powers conferred to him. In this context, another interesting passage that reflects the importance of the power of position in an organization is lapidated on the walls of the Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras (Black Needles Military Academy) with the phrase: “Cadets, go command, learn to obey. It can be observed, then, that using the power of the position that has been conferred to the individual requires much more than just giving orders, but a range of skills that should aim to influence the members of the organization to achieve results.
2.1.2 Rewarding Power
Rewarding power refers to the ability of leaders to use resources to influence and motivate employees. Some examples can be: promotions; selection for a certain mission; special privileges; receipt of decorations; letters of recommendation; among others. It is worth remembering that the power of reward can be exercised in simple situations such as a verbal compliment in public or in private, thank you notes, day off, etc. Consequently, when soldiers realize that their superiors in the chain of command know who they are, the result is highly motivating.
2.1.3 Coercive Power
While reward power offers something positive and desirable, the subcategory coercive power brings with it something negative. By definition, coercive power is the ability to influence teams through the administration of punishment, removal of privileges, threats, embarrassment, etc. It is important to remember that coercive power is usually associated with the military and toxic military leaders, those who generate a negative organizational climate due to their personality traits, words, and actions. From another perspective, coercive power has serious limitations and disadvantages. Usually, coercive power brings temporary obedience, but it undermines long-term commitment. Moreover, this practice can result in passive-aggressive behavior, retaliation, sabotage, and others.
2.1.4 Information Power
Brought to light by Dr. Gary Yukl, information power is presented as that which the leader, by his power of position, controls access to critical information, over its dissemination, and dominates the ability to act on that information. In this vein, organizational leaders have information superiority due to their position. Thus, the leader who holds the power of information controls the flow of information, in addition to interpreting the information in a way that influences the perception of subordinates. With this power, leaders can present the information in any way they want and even distort it in their favor. It is important to emphasize that information is also vital in crisis situations, because it is essential for the physical and emotional well-being of the subordinates. It is concluded, then, that the power of information, when properly used, is useful and pertinent to the leader’s ability to influence the organization.
2.2 PERSONAL POWER
Coming from the mutual trust, admiration, and respect between the leader and his or her subordinates, personal power is based on the personality, experience, and character of the leader. It can be subdivided into two categories: expert power and referent power. Using effective techniques, personal power generates the commitment of the organization’s members. This is because this power influences not only the individual’s behavior, but mainly the way people on the team think, creating a strong link with personal attitudes, values, and beliefs. As a result, the organizational culture tends to be influenced, bringing positive results to an organizational climate. In this scenario, it is relevant to consider that followers can remove the leader’s personal power in the same way or even faster than it was granted. As a mainstay, personal power finds its pillar in the leader’s character.
2.2.1 Expert Power
Directly resulting from the leader’s knowledge and experience in relation to his or her subordinates, expert power accompanies the organizational leader who demonstrates that he or she possesses knowledge, skills, talents, and proficiencies that set him or her apart from his or her superiors, peers, and subordinates. However, the challenge for the command of an OM is that there may be many individuals in the battalion with more expert power than the commander. It is up to the latter to know how to influence in order to optimize the work of the leader with expert power and, as a result, will positively project his command.
An example of the highest form of expert power was brought about by post-World War II research. The result of the studies indicated that younger soldiers had more confidence in their graduates than in their officers, i.e. platoon leaders. Such a finding is easily explained given the experience that sergeants possessed compared to young lieutenants, a factor that soldiers felt would keep them alive.
2.2.2 Reference Power
As the second category of personal power, reference power can be defined as the strength of the professional relationship and personal bond that leaders develop with their subordinates. When members of the organization admire and trust the leader, the leader is vested with referent power. In this environment, people tend to work hard for that leader because they believe in him and want him to succeed. In other words, the stronger and more solid the bond between the leader with reference power and his followers, the greater the probability of the effective and continuous engagement of the organization’s members.
In 1942, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed by President Roosevelt to be the overall commander of the European Theater of Operations. Although he had never commanded a CO higher than battalion level, he possessed exceptional interpersonal skills, a crucial attribute in that context. In the end it was realized that his appointment was due as much to his relational skills as to his professional and administrative competencies. Through his interpersonal and social skills, he was able to gain the trust of allied U.S. military and political leaders. This is a powerful example of the power of reference within the military structure in a setting of armed conflict.
As mentioned earlier, influence is the application of power. The leader uses his power to change behavior, values, attitudes, morale, and level of commitment of those he leads. In other words, he influences. In his research, Dr. Gary Yukl concluded that the leader’s application of power is exercised through a range of influence techniques. It is common ground that the technique to be used will depend on the type of power that the leader exerts over his or her followers, the expected degree of resistance, and the moment of that insertion. Influence techniques can be classified into three categories: hard, soft, and rational.
3.1 RIGID TECHNIQUES
Generally associated with the power of position, the rigid influence technique demands pressure, prompt compliance and consequent change in the individual’s behavior. Rigid techniques are effective in promoting employee obedience. Another factor that leads to the use of rigid techniques is the leader’s expectation of obtaining significant resistance to his demand or the need for prompt action to a certain situation. Rigid techniques are classified into: alliances, legitimate requests, and pressure.
Alliances can be defined as the influencing technique where the leader asks for help or support from others to influence his target. Alliances include creating a network of supporters to extend the leader’s power base, consensus building, defining a group position, or creating an “us versus them” situation. Leaders who quote the names of their supporters when making a request are also using this tactic.
It is common that in order to get what he wants, the leader will seek the agreement of someone the target admires or respects. This technique is usually used in combination with other techniques, such as rational persuasion, encouragement or approval. Since it requires more than one person to pressure the individual (target), it can also be described as grouping. Usually this tactic can make the target extremely uncomfortable.
3.1.2 Legitimate Solicitation
The rigid technique called Legitimate Requests occurs when the leader imposes himself in accordance with his position or authority in the organizational structure. Commonly, the leader initially establishes his authority as part of the request process. In the case where the request is something unusual in the organization, resistance is already expected from the subordinate. The technique should be used with caution, as it tends to lose its effectiveness when overused.
It can be said that legitimizing is more complex than requesting, because a leader adds a legitimization or rationalization within his command and control context. With legitimation, the leader affirms the legitimacy of the request and makes it explicit that he has the authority to do so. In this way, the rigid technique of legitimate requests means that the leader has the authority to influence. Within an organization, leaders regularly present what they want and demonstrate that what is requested is in accordance with company policy, procedure or culture.
Quite common when the leader exercises the power of the position, the rigid pressure technique can range from warnings, constant checking, reminders, and even threats. This technique receives only the obedience of the subordinate in return. The main problem with pressure is that the interpersonal relationship between the leader and the subordinate practically ceases to exist. The pressure and control is such that it undermines the essential basis of any relationship, trust. Even though people are willing to obey the authority that instructs them to perform activities that conflict with their personal conscience, with time, the wear and tear becomes evident and the organizational climate is shaken. In the short term it is a very effective technique, but it always leaves grooves in the long term. In the end, experience shows that, in general, pressure techniques have very low effectiveness.
3.2 SOFT TECHNIQUES
Associated with the personal power of the leader, soft techniques include encouragement to act, personal appeal, motivational appeal, participation of the subordinate through consultation, and solution building. In general, all are effective in gaining the commitment of the subordinate. In connection with other influence techniques, the leader may realize that there will be resistance to his proposal to use the soft techniques to influence the members of the organization and to undo a certain disadvantage that he would have, if he used only other techniques. The soft techniques are: socialization, personal appeals, inspiration or inspirational appeals, consultation, participation, and relationship building.
In an attempt to get subordinates to act in accordance with his intention, the leader can use the soft influence technique known as socialization. The definition of this technique can be expressed as seeking to establish a basis for requesting something by behaving in a warm and cordial manner to influence others to act. The goal is to build harmony by identifying common ground and matching behavior or conversational pace. Compliments can be made, acting in a friendly way, promoting unexpected favors, in a way that makes the individual feel special and willing to collaborate. It is a technique that influences many people every day in organizations, and it can be of great value in preparing the team for something greater that the leader may need in future actions.
3.2.2 Personal Appeals
The personal appeal is the technique where the leader, based on the lead, trust or even friendship with the individual, seeks to overcome a problem and appeals for help to overcome it. To achieve his goal, the leader may highlight the individual’s abilities, in order to show that he is essential in that process for the success of the mission. In the OM of the EB it is a technique not often used. It is noteworthy that this technique is directly related to the leader’s personal reference power. This makes sense, because being someone respected and invested with personal power, he influences the individual’s decision to act. Often, this technique is used when the task requested through personal appeal is not part of the person’s normal duties or responsibilities.
3.2.3 Inspiration or Inspiring Appeals
Inspiration or inspirational appeals are intended to arouse feelings and motivation in the members of the organization, in order to gain commitment from everyone as a response to this effort. An example in the military sphere are the words of commanders before a combat or major activity that the troops will be involved in. To achieve his goal of influencing people, the leader exercises inspirational leadership, because he must focus on reaching deep into the individual’s mind, values, principles, and emotions. As tools of this technique, the leader can use images, metaphors, gestures, and other ways to stimulate the appeal process. Care must be taken with the use of these tools, because if the leader’s profile is not that one, he or she will pass the perception of falseness at the time of using the technique. In other words, it is vital that the leader is authentic in his appeal. A cinematographic example of this technique can be seen in the movie “Patton”, where in World War II, General Patton made appealing speeches to the American troops, in order to keep the soldiers encouraged to persist in that arduous combat.
Consultation is considered a soft influence technique that occurs when the leader seeks the opinion of other members of the organization for problem solving, planning, and other decisions. The technique consists of, in addition to making the environment more “democratic” because the leader is accepting the opinion of others, he takes advantage of the individual’s experience and knowledge. The leader can use this technique in a planned way or in moments when he, due to the dynamics of actions and the need for quick decisions, needs to use it, acting to equate a given situation. In this way, it can be said that consultation is focused on others, as the leader attracts them and seeks to involve them in a given demand. On the other hand, it is important to consider that when the leader uses this technique, the people consulted feel more recognized, more important, because the feeling is that they are contributing at such a level that the leader comes to seek their advice. From this point of view, it is proven that consultation is a powerful tool to gain the commitment of the followers.
The soft influence technique called participation can be described as that in which the leader asks a follower to participate in a planning process, brainstorming, discussion to solve a certain problem, or even decision-making. As similar as it may seem to the consultation technique, participation seeks to influence team members who do not have expertise in the area discussed. In other words, it is not about influencing someone who has knowledge and experience in a certain subject, but about bringing together members of the organization in order to generate a greater moral sense, personal and professional value, and to stimulate the spirit of teamwork in the individual. When the leader gives voice to the one who does not possess unusual skills, it leads to recognition and generates commitment, participation, and acceptance, helping in the empowerment and training of the organization’s members.
3.2.6 Relationship Building
Relationship building is a technique where the leader seeks to influence with the goal of building a positive relationship and a relationship of mutual trust with the subordinate, making the individual more willing to comply with his or her requests. Although it has similarities with the socialization technique where the leader behaves in a way to influence the followers, here the leader really wants to establish a bond of friendship with the other. It is a technique that requires time, because only after this bond is consolidated will the leader be able to recover the results of his work. With time, this approach proves to be effective, consistent, and efficient in obtaining commitment in an organization.
3.3 RATIONAL TECHNIQUES
Rational tactics are connected to both personal power and the power of the position. Generally, rational techniques are put into practice when within an organization the leader intends to influence another person who is in an equal or similar position to his or her own. In the EB these are the so-called “peers”, because they are military personnel who are in the same rank or graduation or occupying similar functions. In this scenario, it is deduced that no resistance is expected, because both of them and the organization will benefit in some way. As for the generation of obedience or commitment, one can infer that they initially influence the individual’s behavior, but may, over time, influence the person’s beliefs and values, and may increase their commitment. The rational tactics are: rational persuasion, exchange, appreciation, and collaboration.
3.3.1 Rational Persuasion
With high effectiveness, rational persuasion is a very common influencing technique in organizations. By using facts, solid arguments and evidence, it has a high convincing power. The leader in developing this technique must focus on reason, critical but rational thinking, and common sense. An example of the use of the technique occurred at the Pacific Strategy Conference in Hawaii in July 1944, when General Douglas MacArthur, developing logical thinking and with facts that corroborated with his arguments, used rational persuasion to influence President Franklin Roosevelt regarding the strategic path ahead in the Pacific War. In the presence of Admiral Chester Nimitz, MacArthur skillfully described to the president why liberating the Philippines made more sense than the navy’s recommended strategy of bypassing those islands and advancing on the Formosa region. Roosevelt decided in favor of MacArthur’s strategic approach.
By realizing that the subordinate wants something that can be granted and still have an advantage, the leader will ask for something in return to consummate the concession. However, this technique will only be effective if the individual really believes that the leader has power and will fulfill his part of the agreement. Some of the most common forms of exchange are negotiation, bargaining, and offering something with implicit expectations. The latter is the approach where the leader offers something, but leaves “between the lines” that in the future he will need a favor in return. It is a very common influencing technique in the political environment, for example. In the OM, which is the focus of this work, it is much rarer to verify this type of approach, given the pillars that govern the Armed Forces.
The rational influence technique known as appreciation consists of a process where the leader tells the individual that the fulfillment of that task will benefit him personally or professionally. Even though it has similarities with the rational persuasion technique, it is possible to notice the difference, because while persuasion uses logic and facts to influence, in appreciation the person, even acting by logic, knows that he will receive some benefit by doing what the leader asks. Appreciation also cannot be confused with the exchange technique, since the benefits will not be promoted by the leader who used the technique. The leader will only be showing a path, an opportunity that, from the accomplishment of that task, advantages can arise for the individual. Some examples of the advantages of the appreciation technique may include greater opportunities for career advancement, greater visibility to influential people in the organization, and training in highly desired skills. It is a technique that can be used in the EB’s OM, as the benefits resulting from a certain action will not always be illegal.
The technique known as collaboration occurs in situations where the leader offers the led the resources, equipment, or assistance that will be needed to successfully complete a given task. Obviously, in most cases, the support offered will be resources that the subordinate does not have access to or has little access to. In collaboration, the leader seeks to develop a joint effort with the subordinate, presenting himself ready to help and overcome the situation faced. An example of this in an operational environment can be the commander of a Grand Command supporting an Artillery Unit with other resources in an offensive action. It is a highly effective influence technique to achieve the commitment of the followers.
4 EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Some questions related to the application of power and influence in organizations may arise. What form of power and influence technique should be used in a given situation? What is the dosimetry of that form of power and influence for that situation? In other words, when is the time to reduce the use of power and influence or change to another form and technique? Given the power that the leader possesses, positional and/or personal, how does the leader know which influence techniques to use? What happens if a leader who has the positional power, but does not have the personal power, tries to use a soft influence technique? In this context, emotional intelligence presents itself as the skill that will help the leader to maintain balance in his actions, to act with the necessary prudence and at the right time. Emotional intelligence can be defined as the ability or skill to identify, evaluate, manage, and control one’s own emotions, and to identify the emotions of others, in order to better manage them.
According to the researcher, Dr. Daniel Goleman, the Emotional Quotient (EQ), an expression that translates the development of emotional intelligence, has four components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skills. Self-awareness and self-management are skills inherent to the leader, their self-knowledge as an individual, being able to read and understand their own emotions. The application of power and influence in organizations requires the leader with these skills, because he better understands, visualizes, coordinates, issues orders, evaluates, and leads the organization. The leader with this ability is able to adapt to a given situation or adversity, because he knows himself, avoiding professional or personal stress. In addition, he or she performs better in stressful situations, because he or she avoids his or her behavior being altered and unnecessary actions or words being unleashed. However, it takes more than mastering oneself to apply power and influence in its fullness.
In contrast, the other two components of emotional intelligence, social awareness and social skills have a strong connection to the application of power and influence. By social awareness we mean that it is the perception of the emotions, perspectives, and needs of others, both at the individual and organizational level. It is what we call empathy, the ability to identify and put oneself in the other’s shoes at the moment of a decision or situation. The leader with this ability is able to visualize the whole, aligning the needs of the members of the organization with the values, beliefs, and principles of the organization. Regarding social skills, it is the leader’s ability to relate to the members of the organization. Being skilled with words, gestures and attitudes, in order to be someone that people respect, always seeking unity and the development of a positive organizational climate. In this way, it will be possible to “feel” the organization. By understanding these signs and indicators, the leader will be able to better decide which influence technique is appropriate for a given situation, and according to the extent of his or her individual power.
5 FINAL CONSIDERATIONS
Leadership in organizations is quite complex. It is imperative to use various skills in order to create a positive environment and achieve results. For this, the leader has several tools that can help him on his way. How the leader applies power and influence in the organization will define if he will obtain obedience or commitment from his members. The desired result will be the result of how the leader applies his power through the various techniques of influence available.
It is important to remember that obtaining commitment from the members of the organization should be the leader’s goal. In other words, the power of position is important to achieve this, but personal power is essential. The military leaders of the EB’s OM must understand the organization, they don’t need to be “experts” in all sectors, but they must be able to master the power of reference, they must be the ones that everyone trusts and admires. He must, in this way, gather his subordinates around a shared vision of the organization, and also strengthen the bond between the leader and the led.
In theory, it sounds easy; but in practice, it is quite difficult. That is why the use of emotional intelligence by the leader is so important. Emotional intelligence, through its four skills, provides the possibility for the leader to develop critical and creative thinking and situational awareness, favoring the appropriate definition of which form of power and influence technique to use in a given situation.
Thus, the application of power and influence in organizations is extremely important for leadership to be exercised in its fullness. Although it is vital in the EB’s OM to follow the laws and regulations of the institution, it is possible to notice that there are nuances that can be better observed and put into practice for the effective exercise of leadership. In this way, by using emotional intelligence, the appropriate use of forms of power and influence can decisively contribute to the success of the EB’s OM.
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