The Twelve Principles of Leadership: Principle Seven

During a twelve-day period of time, I will be posting daily one of the Twelve Principles of Quality Leadership followed by some questions you, as a leader, may wish to ask yourself.

Hopefully the description and inquiry will cause you to think about how you lead and what you may need to do to improve your leadership.

 And don’t forget to post some commentary. It can be a learning process for us all.

Welcome aboard!


Systems, Leadership, and Teams




We should avoid the use of coercive power whenever possible.  When we use it we should remember that we all pay a cost in its exercise — giver and receiver.  The best decisions are those in which we all participate and concur.  The next best are those decisions in which everyone is asked for their input before something is decided.  Of course, we will have occasional no discussion decisions in our work.  When we do, we should make a commitment to our employees that we agree to critique those decisions whenever possible.  Tom Gordon in Leader Effectiveness Training, illustrates the costs to leaders who use coercive power to get the job done:  costs of time, enforcement, alienation, stress and diminishing influence.  There is also the cost of making a less-than-quality decision because communication and information between employees and leaders who use coercive power is greatly reduced.


A. Describe a situation in the workplace in which coercive power was used to get you to do something.

b. How did you feel?  Why do you think you felt that way?

c. What are the best ways to get others to do what you would like them to do?

d. How can you avoid using coercive power and avoid having your leaders use it on you?

[From The New Quality Leadership Workbook, by Couper and Lobitz. To be published this year.]

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