The Interpersonal Power Relationships

Date: Nov 3, 2017

Leader and His Subordinates

The interpersonal power relationships and the power discourse have been at the foundation of human organization since its incipient stages. The relation has two main parts: the leader and his subordinates. Obviously, the leader is the decisive factor in establishing this type of relationships because if he does not make the task extremely clear, the organization is less productive. For example, “Heider has defined social power as the ability to produce intentionally events that have a particular degree of positive or negative motivational consequences for a recipient” (Solomon, 1960). And so, the social power can be exerted from a position of power, more specifically, the leader-member relationship. This term is extremely important because the relationships between the leader and his/her subordinates are mutually exclusive; one cannot be successful without the other.  Another thing that influences the nature of the relationship is the type of leader as well as the level and style of intervention that is used regarding the members.  There are four main categories of leaders: telling leaders, who closely supervise and give very clearly formulated instructions, the selling leaders, who “sell” their knowledge and skills to their subordinates. The other two, namely the participating leaders, and the delegating one, have little to no control regarding the activity of their subordinates. But what happens when the leader takes advantage of his position and power?

Barton Goldmith and His the Daily Herald

Barton Goldmith published an article in 2013 in the Daily Herald regarding the harmful behavior and its impact on relationships. To summarize his point of view, there are multiple reasons or causes for having bad behavior towards someone.  For him, the power behavior comes from a desire to overpower the other, imposing a singular point of view, and so establishing the relationship in a single direction. As the resent builds, nothing can get done. I believe that Goldmith’s point clearly ties in with the power relationship discourse from the beginning of the essay and so, further research should be done regarding this subject. There were also cases of abusive leaders who used financial, sexual, or even violent behavior in order to gain leverage over employees. In order to have a productive organization, it is necessary to have a healthy relationship between the leader and his/her members.


In my opinion, I consider that the abusive behavior that Goldmith mentions in his article is not fair for the large majority of the employees. As it is written in the Bible, “(of) a truth, God will not do wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice” (Job 34:12, English standard version). The aspect of justice connected with the relation between leaders and employees is strongly connected with the socialist ideology. The ruling class exerts its power over the working class in return for a living wage. For Marx, this continuous exploitation cannot last forever. The worker class would rise in revolution and overthrow the corrupted capitalist class and establish a utopic community. This ideology has been put into practice, and it failed to bring about the ideal society, times and again, due to misinterpretations of the Marxist insight or the economic interests of the leaders. What is, then, the ideal power relationship? Could it be the one where there is no power at all? Or is it just trying to maintain the balance between structures? Goldmith’s article shows the harm in interpersonal relations, but provides no solution. I, for one, do not think that seeking institutional help or being punished by some bigger authority would help establish the balance, because that would mean that the whole power relationship system is taken to another level. As the Latin quote says, “Who will guard the guardians”? The solution for this dilemma, as I see it, is that there is no solution. One cannot make the society free because otherwise it will not be a society anymore. On the other hand one cannot have a full control over the power relationship, because then it will be considered a dictatorial regime.  Only time could tell if the social organization we have so far is the best.

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