One of the most common scenarios where I have influenced people concerns such simple situations as choosing a movie to watch together with my friends. From time to time, we watch a movie together. Often it is a direct-to-video action or science fiction movie. The lower grade of the movie helps create a more relaxed atmosphere. Also, poor acting and special effects add a certain charm to the movie, making it more entertaining to watch with a group of people.
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Whenever a movie needs to be chosen, I usually ask everyone if they have any particular ideas on the topic, and if they do not, I suggest something that I have confidence in being entertaining. More often than not, people agree to watch the movie based on my recommendation. Although this is a mundane decision made between friends, the roots for their agreement can be seen in the sources of power that are used to influence the group. During the decision-making process, the group is being influenced by two different types of power. The first is referent power, and it is focused on the influence that comes from the relationship between people. Although our group of friends does not have a dedicated leader, in this case, I become the leader of the group by taking the initiative, and its members follow my decisions because they like and respect me. I return the same feelings toward them because we have been friends for multiple years and have developed a strong bond together. I do not hold any legitimate power over my friends because we are equal in our relationship, but referent power is enough to convince them to follow my lead, just how I am likely to follow another person in a different activity (Hughes, 2009).
The second type of power that influences my friends in this situation is expert power. Although my friends enjoy the b-movies that we watch, they do not have a lot of knowledge about them. They have never made it their hobby, and therefore they do not look for additional information about them. However, I have an interest in this type of movie and have been researching this topic for a long time now. There is a very fine line between an entertaining b-movie and one that is just poorly made. A wrong choice can result in two hours of boredom and frustration. During such a screening, normal conversation can be hard to support because a bad movie can create an uneasy and uncomfortable atmosphere among friends. This risk is why people usually trust me to choose the movie for them. The group is aware of my hobby and has a certain level of competence in my expertise. Additionally, I have proven that my choices are often good and are founded on previous experience with the topic. This confidence influences people into letting me choose the movie for the group (Hughes, 2009).
The source of this power comes from the absence of a crisis within the group. Due to the nature of the group, no one holds legitimate or coercive power over anyone else. These types of power are generally used by leaders during a crisis. However, a movie-watching session with friends is by no means a crisis. This fact accentuates the use of referent and expert power by the leader. There isn’t a situation where anyone would benefit from the use of coercive or legitimate power in this scenario because it would only be used to force people to watch something that they have no interest in watching. This outcome goes directly against the desired goal of having, and providing an entertaining evening for a group of friends (Hughes, 2009).
My motivation as a leader, in this case, lies in the desire to create a relaxing atmosphere for the whole group. This desire leads to the use of consultation and inspirational appeals. Consultation is always used before making a concrete decision because everyone’s agreement is required for a comfortable atmosphere. Leaving out a person because they have a different idea about the activity would make everyone feel worse about the situation, and would therefore not be productive. By using consultation, I can gather and recognize all the ideas present in the group and discuss them with its members. If somebody has an idea that others are happy with, there is no reason for me to go against it, as my agreement would benefit the goal of the activity (Hughes, 2009).
The second tactic is the use of inspirational appeals. Inspirational appeals are focused on fostering enthusiasm and emotional responses from the group and are often essential in convincing a group of people to watch something they have not heard of before. In the presented case, I have to accentuate the best parts of the movie that I am aware of to create interest in watching this particular film. This could be done by pointing out that previous movies with this actor or director were entertaining, or that there are exciting scenes that I have heard about before (Hughes, 2009).
When people talk about the power of leadership, they often refer to business situations that concern managers and their employees. However, the same concepts of power can be seen in the private lives of people. The question that might need further investigation is what are the limitations of power outside of the work environment?
Hughes, R. (2009). Leadership: Enhancing the lessons of experience (6th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.