Leadership, Conflict and Change

Invariably, changing circumstances or directions chosen by the leader will create resistance and create conflicting interests among some constituents, which reveals another defining characteristic of leadership. Because the resources of time, space, attention, and money are always strictly limited, everyone's values, interests, and appetites can never be fully reconciled, inequality and conflict are at the heart of social experience. Leaders work tirelessly to resolve conflicts of various forms and at every level of the organization.

A leader also has to address the types of threats to change that create fear and resistance. Leadership is therefore always a marginal affair that engages leaders in a perpetual process of responding to conflict and change. They expend considerable energy in motivating, persuading, influencing, and manipulating others to respond to stress and change, or they may use more assertive methods to enforce their intentions. Historical experience shows that leaders will use a wide range of strict sanctions to achieve their goals, the logical end point of which is coercion and violence. Where leadership ends and dominance begins becomes a fascinating and complex issue of historical and moral interpretation.

Difference between leadership and empowerment

Contemporary scholarship on leadership often emphasizes the ways in which leadership relationships lead to the implicit empowerment of followers. In the political context, of course, empowerment is a key feature of a democratic system. However, the meaning of the term has increasingly broadened. It now refers to the ways in which all organizations seek to place more decision-making power and responsibility in the hands of individuals and teams. The focus is on ways to improve processes that are best understood by those close to them. Empowerment in this sense often opens other doors to human development and personal fulfillment, as it creates ways to improve the motivation, decision-making skills and capabilities of the entire workforce or community. When there is a deep sense of purpose at work, people become more engaged in their responsibilities. As success comes, they develop more confidence, optimism and self-esteem. This level of leadership seems to tap into a person's sense of identity and self-esteem, thus providing a strong intrinsic motivation to achieve and work effectively with others.

The more decisions are dispersed, the more individuals and groups become directly responsible for their performance. The roles of leader and follower become fluid, as both individuals and groups respond to the influence of others and exercise their own leadership. Which is of particular relevance to academic communities, individuals move from participant to leader or leader based not only on the basis of position or authority, but on the basis of abilities, skills, motivation, ideas and circumstances. Leadership becomes a disposition and a process that is incorporated into the functioning of an organization.