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Monday, July 16, 2012

Summary - Power and Politics

Power is the ability to make things happen in the way an individual wants, either by self or by the subordinates. The essence of power is control over the behavior of others (French & Raven, 1962). Managers derive power from both organizational and individual sources. These sources are called position power and personal power, respectively. In an organizational context leadership and power are related to each others. Power is used by leaders as a means to attain group goals. In other words, power is a means of facilitating their achievement of goals and objectives that they have set for themselves in view of organizational requirements.

Power can be categorized into two types: Formal and informal. Formal Power: is based on the position of an individual in an organization. Formal power is derived from either one’s ability to coerce or reward others or is derived from the formal authority vested in the individual due to his/ her strategic position in the organizational hierarchy. Formal power may be categorized into four types: Coercive Power, Reward Power, Legitimate Power, Information Power.

Personal power resides in the individual and is independent of that individual’s position. . Three bases of personal power are expertise, rational persuasion, and reference. Using position and personal power well to achieve the desired influence over other people is a challenge for most managers. There are many useful ways of exercising relational influence. The most common strategies involve: Reason, Friendliness, Coalition, Bargaining, Assertiveness, Higher authority, and Sanctions.

Empowerment is the process by which managers help others to acquire and use the power required to make decisions affecting both themselves and their work. Moreover, today, managers in progressive organizations are expected to be competent at empowering the people with whom they work. Rather than concentrating power only at higher levels as found in the traditional “pyramid” of organizations, this concept views power to be shared by all working in flatter and more collegial structures. Individuals who lose power or are out of power seek to increase their power individually. If they fail to do so then the alternative is to form a coalition–an informal group bound together by the active pursuit of a single issue. The natural way to gain influence is to become a power holder but this may be difficult, risky, costly, or impossible. Politics is defined as those activities that are not required as part of one’s formal role in the organization, but that influence, or attempt to influence, the distribution of advantages and disadvantages within the organization.

Organizational politics is the management of influence to obtain ends not sanctioned by the organization or to obtain sanctioned ends through non-sanctioned means and the art of creative compromise among competing interests.

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