Last Summer I worked as an intern at the New Orleans Saints during Training camp. There I learned a lot about how such an organization is run, but taking this class has got me thinking about the leadership tactics used in the organization. A few times I even got to lead a team for certain tasks, like stuffing playbooks or clearing out storage areas. So, I got a hands-on experience of the kind of leadership style that I use to get the job done. And If I had to attribute one of the styles we’ve talked about in class to myself, it would be the Power and Influence theory. I personally think this best fits the leadership style I used because I led members from other departments who technically had the same position I did. Now this alone doesn’t make it power and influence, but because I was leading teams of only interns, some of whom were more experienced than I was, I think this theory fits well. I believe that my leadership style in terms of power and influence most of my powers were referent, and I used a mixture of exchange and personal appeals to lead these team.
Referent power is described as “the potential influence one has due to strength of relationship between the leaders and followers” (Hughes, 1993, P. 114). So because I had the same position, on paper, as the other interns I had to take my power not from position, but from the strength of our relationship. And it’s not hard to build a strong relationship when you work 90+ hour weeks together for over a month. So, whenever I was given a job in which I had to lead a team, my boss never gave me who I had to work with, so that means I had to build my team each time. So, each time a team job was required I’d need to pick the best people for the job. This meant I needed a rough idea of what the other interns I had to pick from were capable of. Luckily for me, I knew them well that I could always get a solid team for the job. And, because We were so close due to how much we worked together, I had a significant degree of referent power over them, but that also meant they had a significant amount of referent power over me. “referent power is a two-way street; the stronger the relationship, the more influence leaders and followers exert over each other” (Hughes, 1993, P.115). The clearest example of this to me was this one afternoon when we had to fill up playbooks by the time night meetings started. I had enlisted the help of my selected team, but about 2 hours into the job one of our other bosses called one of them with a more pressing job that needed to be finished within the hour. So, they had to stop with playbooks and do that job. They ended up enlisting my help and after we finished that job we went back to stuffing playbooks. Now I see this as proof that I only had referent power, because when someone with legitimate power came along we stopped what we were doing and did the job they needed done. This also shows that because they got me to help them, they had a degree of referent power over me. So, my referent powers got me the amount of power I needed to get all my jobs done, but they weren’t all powerful and could easily be usurped by someone with a legitimate power over me
Because I only had referent power in most situations, the only influence tactics available to me were exchange and personal appeals. Of the two personal appeal was the one I used more often. A lot of me building my team depended on the members I wanted saying yes. So, a lot of my team building was just me using personal appeals to “ask a favor out of friendship” (Hughes, 1993, P. 124). Often times this would be enough to work, unless they had another job to do that was more urgent. But sometimes the job I needed help with wasn’t to their liking, so I’d need to offer up something to get them to help. In these situations, I’d use the exchange tactic. The exchange tactic is when you exchange favors in order to get the other person to do what you want (Hughes, 1993, P.124). Often times the favor I’d have to exchange meant stocking coolers, or some other job that was necessary, but annoying. Most of the time I’d be happy to do whatever favor was needed for help.
Training camp was a truly awesome experience. My power and influence based leadership with the other interns at training camp was a very give and take scenario based off our mutual referent powers. We each used influence tactics to influence other interns. And in doing so we all learned valuable lessons on both leadership and followership. So at the end of the day The Training camp taught us more than just the inner workings of an NFL organization, it also taught us how to lead while also following.
Hughes, Richard, et al. Power and Influence. Leadership: Enhancing the Lessons of Experience. Homewood, IL. Irwin. 1993. 0256102783. Ch. 5. pp. 107-131.