Why Do Some Leaders Abuse Their Power

Topics: Leadership, Morality, Ethics Pages: 12 (4374 words) Published: August 8, 2010
There are many definitions of power.In social science it can be thought as the capacity to control or influence others by providing rewarding or administering punishment. When leaders in organizations abuse power, power will become evil or unjust. In the last decades ,the pervasiveness of ethical lapses of corporate villains has been astounding such as Unethical CEO behaviour, white-collar crime, property deviance, employee grievances and lawsuits.In this essay I will mainly focus on analysing the causes of the toxic leaders' deviant behaviour, the consequences it will trigger and how should followers survive in the dilemma. It is often heard that there is a series of organizational formula or principle in the corporation,or some other institutions.For instance,managers manage subordinates and serve owners, shareholders elect their representatives to the board of directors. Winners and losers are decided by free market. All the processes are trying to show that the corporation has its reasonable principles and make us believe that the corporation is accountable and efficient.Ironically,the truth of the matter will make us disappointed with the surface of the scandals related to the "prestigious"corporations. Indeed, managers have run the show. Shareholder meetings have been well prepared ceremonies. People who have served as directors on boards have usually been friends of the boss.Proxy votes have become rituals as the result has already been foreordained.(Ralph Estes ,1995,P32)What roles are these leaders playing in the organization on earth? 1. Why do some leaders abuse their power?

There are many factors interactively cause some leaders to abuse their power at risk of being guilty.There is a paradigm proposed by Stephen K.Henn in his book"Business Ethics" which is called "The fraud triangle" that can briefly explain the reason why people behave badly. Opportunity

Pressure Rationalization Opportunity simply means the environment element, Pressure is the trigger that causes bad behaviour, Rationalization is the core of the decision-making process when it is time for a "go" or "no go". (Stephen K.Henn , 2009,P61) It is a good paradigm. However, I will analyse the causes in details from internal and external dimensions respectively. 1.1 External factors

1.1 Environmental factors
Things will not happen without external elements which are related to the environment and situation.There is an environment where there seems to be safe when you do something wrong or even illegal.It ' s exactly the one of the most important reasons why some leaders can abuse their power recklessly. Ethical lapses in corporate and society occur frequently.Numerous examples of ethical lapses in business and politics can be found these years. Martha Stewart, a US domestic style guru, was under suspicion in an inner trading scandal. Six former executives of Australian Wheat Board (AWB) were charged with a bribery of $300 million to Sandam Hussein’s Iraqi government and were likely to be fined $14.4 million by the Australian Securities and Investments Commissions in civil proceeding as well. It seems that nobody has taken an effective action to prevent these wrongdoings. What are the factors that impede people to reveal the truth and reality? How could it be possible that the nation’s regulatory and supervision departments fail to figure out these severe problems for such a long time? What are the loopholes and inadequacies of regulatory bodies that indirectly “help” these ethical lapses? There is no simple answer to these questions,but there are several factors that creat situations in which individuals really do not know enough to take action. The diffusion of responsibility for seeing and acting. Social psychologist Bibb Latane and John Darley launched a series of experiments in which participants heard the sounds of people in distress under different...

References: 1.Kellerman, B. (2004).Bad Leadership: What It Is, How It Happens, Why it Matters. Retrieved March31 2010 from Harvard Business School www.hbsp.harvard.edu/
2.Kimberly Alyn(2005).Top 10 signs of a bad supervisor.Retrieved April 2,2010,from www.Kimberly Alyn.com
3.Jean Lipman-Blumen(2005). The Allure of Toxic Leaders: Why Followers Rarely Escape Their Clutches. Retrieved April 2 2010, from www. iveybusinessjournal. com
Website references:
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_(philosophy)
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