We started discussing concept of power and try to differentiate power,
influence and authority.
Power - the ability to influence another person
Influence - the process of affecting the thoughts, behavior, & feelings
of another person
Authority - the right to influence another person. Legitimate power is
known as authority.
Sources of Power:
Organizations are composed of people who come together to achieve their
common goals. When
resources are scarce, people and groups have to compete for them, and some
achieve their goals while
others do not. In an organization, leaders have the primary responsibility to
ensure that competition for
resources is free and fair and that people who obtain power over resources do so
because they possess
skills and abilities that will, in the long run, benefit all members of the
organization. Similarly leaders
also use different sources of power to influence followers and get things from
1. Reward power: When someone has power to give some thing of value or
withhold this. Reward
power is the power to give pay raises, promotions, praise, interesting projects,
and other rewards to
subordinates. As long as subordinates value the rewards, a manager/leader can
use reward power to
influence and control their behavior.
2. Coercive power (Punishment): Coercive power is the power to give or
Punishments range from suspension to demotion, termination, unpleasant job
assignments, or even the
withholding of praise and goodwill. The ability to reward or punish subordinates
gives supervisors great
power, which is sometimes abused. It is for this reason that most organizations
have clearly defined
rules concerning when and how employees are to be rewarded or punished. Review
promotion committees may be used to assist management in this respect.
Coercive power and reward power are actually counterparts of each other. If you
can remove something
of positive value from another or inflict something of negative value upon
him/her, you have coercive
power over that person. If you can give someone something of positive value or
remove something of
negative value, you have reward power over that person.
3. Expert power: Expert power is "influence wielded as a result of
expertise, special skill, or
knowledge." Expertise has become a powerful source of influence as the world has
technological. As jobs become more specialized, we become increasingly dependent
on experts to
achieve goals. Generally, people who possess expert power are promoted up the
hierarchy of authority
so that their informal power eventually becomes formal.
4. Referent power: Its base is identification with a person who has
desirable resources or personal
traits. If I admire and identify with you, you can exercise power over me
because I want to please you.
Sources of Power
- giving something of value.
2. Coercive power (Punishment)
- force against the will (threat of
3. Expert power
- use of knowledge, competence,
4. Referent power
- use of charisma to influence others
5. Legitimate power
- position power.
6. Numbers power
legal, public, money
Referent power develops out of admiration of another and a desire to be like
that person; it is a lot like
charisma. These individuals are often noted for their agreeableness,
extroversion, or conscientiousness.
Fame is one sign that a person has acquired referent power.
5. Legitimate power: In formal groups and organizations, the most
frequent access power is one’s
structural position. It represents the power a person receives as a result of
his/her position in the formal
hierarchy. Positions of authority include coercive and reward powers. Legitimate
power, however, is
broader than the power to coerce and reward. It includes acceptance of the
authority of a position by
members of an organization. Legitimate power confers on an individual the
legitimate authority to
control and use organizational resources to accomplish organizational goals.
Legitimate power is the
ultimate source of an individual’s power in an organization.
6. Numbers power: The formal and informal power using by an
individual same time. Especially when
number maters. More people are on your side, you can use this to influence.
7. Others: other powers are the legal power uses according to the
law, public power given by the public
to an individual as leader and money power based on financial resources and
influences others with the
power of money.
Other Sources of Power:
• Connection power: connection
power is the power based on good connection inside and out side
the organization. And by using this power a leader can have achieve the
• Information power: Information
power is power stemming from access to and control over
information. The more information a manager possesses, the better able he or she
is to solve
problems facing subordinates. Lack of information power forces subordinates to
be dependant on
superiors for their information needs. Many managers are unwilling to share
The most effective organizations do not do this.
• Group decision making power: is a
power in which leaders make decision in the group and
influence the group members.
• Organization power: Leaders in
particular functions or divisions can take advantage of other
sources of power to enhance their individual power. A division or function
becomes powerful when
the tasks that it performs give it the ability to control the behavior of other
divisions or functions, to
make them depend on it, and thereby increase its share of organizational
resources. The power of a
function or division also stems from its importance, or centrality, to the
organization. (a. How
central it is to the organization’s operations and the degree to which it lies
at the center of
information flows. (b. These functions or divisions have access to a lot of
information, which gives
• Coalition power: Those “out of
power” and seeking to be “in” will first try to increase their power
individually. If ineffective, the alternative is to form a coalition—an informal
group bound together
by the active pursuit of a single issue. Predictions about Coalition Formation.
First, coalitions in
organizations often seek to maximize their size. Another prediction relates to
the degree of
interdependence within the organization. Finally, coalition formation will be
influenced by the
actual tasks that workers do.
Responses to the Use of Power
Responses of the use of power can be divided into three different behaviors.
If positional power is used
appropriately the response of followers will be compliance. While excessive
power use can create
resistance behavior. In case some one is using personal power the response is
always commitment of
followers. Same can be understood from the following figure.
The more you will move toward excessive or coercive power the more you can
_ Knowing the persons who
matter in your sphere of influence
_ Knowing who holds power
_ Using power appropriately to
_ Using Power Appropriately
_ Avoidance of power plays
Using Power Ethically: There are some questions that a leader should be
asking to him
_ Does the behavior produce a
good outcome for people both inside and outside the organization?
_ Does the behavior respect the
rights of all parties?
_ Does the behavior treat all
parties equitably and fairly?
Three ethical decision criteria are utilitarianism, rights, and justice. The
first question you need to
answer addresses self-interest versus organizational goals. Ethical actions are
consistent with the
The second question concerns the rights of other parties. The final question
that needs to be addressed
relates to whether or not the political activity conforms to standards of equity
Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are often argued in ways to make
seem ethical. Powerful people can become very good at explaining self-serving
behaviors. They can
persuasively argue that unfair actions are really fair and just.
Negative Consequences and Power
Abraham Lincoln once said: “Nearly everyone can stand adversity, but if you
want to test a person’s
true character, give him power”. Historian Lord Acton once said, “Power
corrupts, and absolute power
How do you get power?
Key words:- Management, People, Motivation, Organization, Team, Culture,
Influence, Politics etc.
Influencing: The process of affecting other’s attitudes and behavior to
achieve an objective. Leadership
focuses on the downward influence on their followers. Power does not minimize
the importance of
lateral and upward influence patterns.
Types of Influence Tactics:
• Rational persuasion
• Personal appeals
• Coalition tactics
• Legitimizing tactics
• Pressure tactics
• Inspirational appeals
Outcomes of Influence
Same way as in case of power, the more you will move toward excessive or
coercive influencing tactics
or use of power the more you can experience resistance.
Politics: Activities to acquire, develop, and use power and other
resources to obtain desired future
outcomes when there is uncertainty or disagreement about choices. Or
“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.” This
definition encompasses key
_ Political behavior is outside
one’s specified job requirements.
_ It encompasses efforts to
influence the goals, criteria, or processes used for decision making.
_ It includes such varied
political behaviors as withholding key information from decision makers,
whistle blowing, spreading rumors, leaking confidential information, etc.
We can also say that Politics is the art of Influencing the Allocation of Scarce
_ Is an interpersonal endeavor
_ Is a collective activity
_ Requires analysis and planning
_ Involves image
The Reality of Politics: Politics is a fact of life in organizations.
Organizations are made up of
individuals and groups with different values, goals, and interests. This sets up
the potential for conflict
over resources. Resources in organizations are also limited, which often turns
potential conflict into real
conflict. Because resources are limited, not everyone’s interests can be
provided for causing the
_ Gains by one individual or
group are often perceived as being at the expense of others.
_ These forces create a
_ The most important factor
leading to politics within organizations is the realization that most of the
“facts” that are used to allocate the limited resources are open to
_ What is good performance?
_ What’s an adequate
_ Most managerial decisions take
place in the large and ambiguous middle ground of organizational
_ Because most decisions have to
be made in a climate of ambiguity, people within organizations will
use whatever influence they can to taint the facts to support their goals and
interests. These are
activities we call politicking.
_ It is possible for an
organization to be politics free, if all members of that organization hold the
same goals and interests, however, that is not the organization most people work
_ Attacking or blaming
_ Using information as a
_ Creating a favorable image
_ Developing a base of support
_ Praising others (ingratiation)
_ Forming political coalitions
with strong allies
_ Associating with influential
_ Creating obligations
Organizational Factors Which Contribute to Political Behavior
_ Low trust
_ Democratic decision making
_ High performance pressures
_ Scarcity of resources
_ Role ambiguity
_ Self-serving senior managers
_ Unclear evaluation systems
_ Zero-sum allocations
Factors Contributing to Political Behavior
• Organizational Factors
o Political activity is probably
more a function of the organization’s characteristics than of
individual difference variables.
o When an organization’s resources are
declining, when the existing pattern of resources is
changing, and when there is opportunity for promotions, politics is more likely
o Cultures characterized by low trust,
role ambiguity, unclear performance evaluation
systems, zero-sum reward allocation practices, democratic decision making, high
for performance, and self-serving senior managers will create breeding grounds
o When organizations downsize to
improve efficiency, people may engage in political actions
to safeguard what they have.
o Promotion decisions have consistently
been found to be one of the most political in
o The less trust there is within the
organization, the higher the level of political behavior and
the more likely it will be illegitimate.
o Role ambiguity means that the
prescribed behaviors of the employee are not clear.
o There are fewer limits to the scope
and functions of the employee’s political actions.
o The greater the role ambiguity, the
more one can engage in political activity with little
chance of it being visible.
o Subjective criteria in the appraisal
o Subjective performance criteria
o Single outcome measures encourage
doing whatever is necessary to “look good.”
o The more time that elapses between an
action and its appraisal, the more unlikely that the
employee will be held accountable for his/her political behaviors.
o The zero-sum approach treats the
reward “pie” as fixed so that any gain one person or
group achieves has to come at the expense of another person or group. If I win,
o This encourages making others look
bad and increasing the visibility of what you do.
o Making organizations less autocratic
by asking managers to behave more democratically is
not necessarily embraced by all individual managers.
o Sharing their power with others runs
directly against some managers’ desires.
o The more pressure that employees feel
to perform well, the more likely they are to engage
o If a person perceives that his or her
entire career is riding on the next “whatever,” there is
motivation to do whatever is necessary to make sure the outcome is favorable.
o When employees see top management
successfully engaging in political behavior, a
climate is created that supports politicking.
Managing Organizational Politics
_ Reduce System Uncertainty
_ Reduce Competition
_ Break Existing Political
The exercise of power is an essential ingredient of organizational life, so it
is important for an
organization to manage organizational politics and harness it to support
organizational interests. The
management of organizational politics falls primarily on the CEO/leader. If the
perceived of as being weak, other top managers will lobby for their own
interests and compete among
themselves for control of resources. To avoid power struggles, an organization
must have a strong
CEO who can balance and manipulate the power structure. When there is a balance
of power, the
decisions that result from the political process are more likely to favor the
long-term interests of the
Managing Political Behavior:
_ Maintain open
_ Clarify performance
_ Use participative management
_ Encourage cooperation among
_ Manage scarce resources well
_ Provide a supportive