When you think of leadership and power, do you always think of positive leaders? While it would be wonderful for all leaders to be positive and to evoke positive change in the world, this is not always the case. If a leader does not do positive things for their subordinates, are they are bad leader? According Pennsylvania State University World Campus Online Commentary for Psych 485 (2014) “power is the capacity to cause change and influence is the degree of actual change in attitudes, values, beliefs, or behaviors.” (PSU WC, Lesson 7, p. 3). Those who have power and influence are not always good leaders. I can give many examples of this, but lead character Joe Carroll from the hit television show The Following is the perfect example of this type of leader (2014).
Joe Carroll, previously a college professor and author, leads a cult of killers and influences them in many ways to kill individuals, reaping havoc on the world. When watching the show, it is very interesting to me how he is able to influence so many people and has moles in the FBI, schools, and pretty much everywhere. Seemingly normal people, even those with families and children, drop their lives to follow his cult and kill on his behalf.
Because he has a vendetta against FBI agent Ryan Hardy for falling in love with and sleeping with his ex-wife, he is currently out for revenge to ruin Ryan’s life, or anyone around him, and get his wife back. Although he has a natural need to kill others, he controls his cult and gets them to kill for him using personalized power. Individuals with a high need for personalized power are selfish, impulsive, and exercise power for their own needs, not for the good of their followers (PSU WC, Lesson 7, p. 6). While his followers think that he truly cares about them, his only care is in getting what he wanst, which always involves proving to the world that he is a force to be reckoned with.
It is hard to understand how someone is able to influence seemingly normal people to kill other human beings and be alright with it. According to online lesson 7 (2014) there are many influence tactics, orbehaviors, designed to change another person’s attitudes, beliefs, values, or behaviors (p. 3), that Joe Carroll uses with his cult members. In particular, two tactics stand out: rational persuasion and inspirational appeals. Rational persuasions involve the leader using logical arguments or factual evidence to influence others and inspirational appeals involve the leader making requests that are designed to arouse enthusiasm or emotion in the group (PSU WC, Lesson 7, p. 7). Carroll’s followers literally worship the ground that he walks on, and that is because he is able to make them believe that he is their family and the cult is the only thing they have in a world where no one else understands them. All of these are reasons why Carroll is a perfect leader according to the power and influence theory, but a negative one at the same time.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus (2014). Lesson 7: Power and Influence. Retrieved from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/su14/psych485/001/content/07_lesson/01_page.html
Williamson, Kevin. (2013). The Following. New York City: Outerbanks Entertainment.
Below is a clip of Joe Carroll: