Whether a person will assume leadership in a group or not depends upon the reward-cost outcomes expected by him and by his followers. The rewards of leadership are two-fold first are the satisfactions to be gained from successful accomplishment of the tasks. Second are the rewards gained from leadership activity in itself. These include satisfaction of needs for achievement and dominance as well as other social –emotional needs. Persons who assume leadership incur a number of costs. They have to spend their time and energy. Besides they bear strains, anxiety, rebuffs, loss of status and blame in case of failure.
He also faces the cost of losing the friendship of the members who maybe adversely affected in their position and prestige by his having assumed the leadership. He also risks his popularity. He also faces the cost of loneliness since he is often avoided because of his power and because he may also incurred hostility. Among the rewards of the followers is the goal achievement.
The followers follow the leader because they recognize that without leadership the goals of the group would not be achieved. Secondly by following the leader the followers escape the burden of making decisions to meet particular situations facing the group. Thirdly the followers escape the anxiety over the risk of failure and blame when the failure occurs. As to who will assume leadership depends on the rewards and costs arising out of the inter-play between the demands of the situation and the characteristics of the individuals. Those who have the required skills to a high degree can respond at low cost. Varying characteristics of the group members affect their reward cost outcomes differently in different situations.
Next: Types of Leadership