Contrasting Power and Leadership
There is an extent of “power” component involved in leadership. Power often has a negative connotation when comparing to the word “leadership.” To begin, power is one individual's ability to influence another individual to affect that individual's behavior (Ebrary). Leadership is associated with the ability to inspire others to perform well and accomplish an end goal (Tutorials Point).
Within organizational behavior, it is important to identify factors that differentiate between power and leadership. Power does not require aligning the influencer's goals with the followers - it simply demands submission and requires dependency. Leadership, on the other hand, focuses on achieving goals and seeks to find goals' compatibility with followers. In addition, leadership influences downwards in an organizational pyramid. Power seeks control of those lateral or upward the pyramid (Judge and Robbins). This adds to the negative connotation associated with power and this is accurate because , a Center for Leadership study found that “there is a notable correlation between how powerful a leader believes he or she is at work and that leader's level in the organization” (Bal, Campbell, Steed, and Meddings). In addition, it found that that 28% of the participants believe that power is misused by top leaders within their organization (Bal, Campbell, Steed, and Meddings). This reflects the perception employees have of power within an organization and how it is used by their leaders.
The way in which power is used can be indicative of great leadership. If it's used for greater good of the organization and not to serve the individual's best interest, it's an effective use of power. Power can be a great tool in driving results. It acts as a catalyst in allowing leaders to influence their members. “The Role of Power in Effective Leadership and Followership: The Albanian Case” argues that “power is a very important tool in achieving organizational goals and objectives” (Elmazi, Llaci, and Zogjani). The case study goes on to assert that when leaders learn how power operates within their organizations, they can be more effective in their leadership role. Managers should be aware of the power dynamics surrounding their teams so they can better protect, guide, and support their team members. Managers who are mindful of such dynamics can help their team members navigate through those power politics within the organization. These managers can introduce their team members to ideal mentors within the company or direct their members to resources to which they otherwise might not have easy access. Ultimately it's these leaders, those who equip power for the greater good, are able to lead their team into doing their best work and producing optimal results.
Explain the role of dependence in power relationships
The theme of dependence is more prominent in power relationships than you might have previously considered. Let's start with the following idea - the greater B's dependence on A, the more power A has over B (Emerson). To clarify this concept, think of A as someone who has a resource that B absolutely needs to do their job. Because B is depending so greatly on A to get their work done, A can essentially make an agreement based on whatever terms they wish, thus giving A most of the power in this relationship. This dependence could be remedied if B were to expand their options in terms of supplier and lessen the amount of power they give to A. Therefore, in looking at this it appears that power comes from the needs of others. While evaluating the role of dependence, we must also look at the importance of independence. It is crucial to strive for independence from others in order to limit the amount of power that you can put into the hands of another.
If dependence is the issue, we must then examine its components – importance, scarcity and substitutability (Robbins, Judge, 418). Each of these factors work together to increase the level of dependence, if the resource you control belongs to these categories. If your resource is important, it means that people want it and actually care about its existence. Because of this, consumers of any resource will look at the resource to make sure that it meets their needs and expectations, and if any criteria are not met then the good is no longer of value to them and thus, it is unimportant. This ties into marketing, as it is the job of this department to ensure that the products are shown in the best way possible to help consumers want them. If you are offering a resource that is scarce, meaning there is high demand but not enough supply, then people will of course be drawn to your resource. The idea is that scarcity inspires need, tying back to the theme of dependence. This can be applied to various occupations, such as a demand for people laborers with certain skills. Those who possess that certain skill have more leverage when it comes to negotiating salary and benefits. As for substitutability, you want a resource with fewer available substitutes because it ensures that there is demand for yours. If consumers know that you are one of few suppliers of a good that they want, they will depend on you to get that good, again giving you a sense of power over them.
The more you understand the relation between power and dependence, the easier it is to understand a main factor in the amount of power someone has over you, and vice versa. This idea is applicable to many aspects in life, both professional and personal, and if utilized properly can reap great benefits. Regardless of the type of relationship between people, there is always a balance between give and take. Understanding dependence can help you with this balance and protect you from being taken advantage of.
Three Bases of Formal Power and Two Bases of Personal Power
Understanding the differences and benefits of formal power and personal power is crucial when joining a new company or team, or when trying lead one. If you are joining a group, one of the best ways to succeed is to understand the power structure and know who wields the power. As a leader, knowing who holds power can help influence the rest of the team. In every team, there are two types of power: formal and personal.
Formal power is easily identifiable because it is based on the authority of the individual's position in a team. Formal power is necessary for strategic goals and furthering company initiatives (Daveron, 2018). Titles, roles, and job functions help identify those with formal power. CEOs, managers, police officers, and professors are some of the many who hold formal power. A corporate structure chart lists the individuals holding the highest level of formal power (Robbins, Judge, 414). There are three types of formal power: expert power, legitimate power and referent power.
Legitimate-based power comes from an individual's formal position in a team. In formal organizations, the team leaders, presidents, and directors hold legitimate-based power. Legitimate power is exhibited in organizations when entry-level employees report to managers, and managers report to directors, and so on. Job descriptions can sometimes include information regarding the level of legitimate power the individual has. Reporting to a supervisor and delegating tasks to a team are job functions that indicate where the legitimate power is held. Legitimate power is also broadly accepted because position titles are usually associated with the individual's skills and expertise. Legitimate power is granted to individuals by some higher authority. Professors have legitimate power, granted to them by their school, to teach course material and give homework and exams to students.
Coercive-based power relies on the fear of negative consequences of defying that power. (Robbins, Judge, 414). It works well in the workplace if supervisors have the ability to write-up or report deviant behavior, and it works in the military when drill sergeants can punish recruits with physical conditioning. In extreme cases, coercive power can help mitigate and prevent insubordinate behavior from spreading and inhibit discrimination and harassment. While coercive power works in the military and in extreme cases, it should be used rationally as using coercive power as a norm can have negative effects on a team. If coercive power is used too often, it can lower team morale and foster a hostile or oppressive working environment. Additionally, if an individual cannot follow through with the consequences, coercive power has no effect and the individual's authority can be undermined. (Expert Program Management, 2017). For instance, if a manager threatens to not allow an employee to take an approved day off but does not actually hold the power over scheduling, the manager is losing his power, and respect, over the employee. An essential part of using coercive-based power successfully is having the element of fear or dislike of the consequence. A professor threatens give extra homework problems to students who do not show up to class, but in fact several students want the extra homework for practice or grade points and choose to not show up to class. This is an unsuccessful use of coercive power because the fear element was miscalculated.
Reward-based power is built on positive benefits, or rewards, for correct behavior or work. The most common rewards include salary bonuses or raises for those who showcased excellent work performance (Robbins, Judge, 414). Non-financial rewards include recognition such as awards or promotions, time-off, more interesting or desired work assignments, or better work shifts. Reward power is the opposite of coercive power, and by offering positive consequences fosters a more positive and rewarding work environment. Professors sometimes use their reward power by offering extra credit for student participation. Even something as simple as praising and individual in front of their peers is an example of using one's reward power. Using reward power can give team members something more to work towards and increase employee loyalty. Rewarding employees can also create healthy competition and increase overall productivity and morale. At the same time, giving out too much rewards and too much praise to many employees, can lower the significance of the rewards. Similarly to coercive power, reward-based power is most effective when used sparingly, although not as sparingly as using coercive power.
Personal power can be held by anyone in a team and does not have to associated with position titles and authorities. Personal power is unique to the individual and can be earned by experience and knowledge. Personal power is split up into expert power and referent power.
Expert power can be gained from knowledge or expertise and does not have to be tied to a certain title or position. Expert power can be held from any position, even from entry-level positions. Winning a sales competition, can grant someone a certain level of expert power. Having a doctorate degree is associated with expert power because of the in-depth knowledge gained from the extra schooling. It is common for authors to put a little bit about themselves on the back or inside covers of their books, listing their qualifications and experience to gain expert power over readers. Guest speakers are often introduced with their background and accomplishments, which validate the speaker's level of expert power, and allows the speaker to influence the listeners. Expert power can be found in the senior employees in the company. Senior employees know the work environment and how the company operates, making them useful resources for new employees. Although expert power is earned through knowledge and experience, flaunting knowledge and arrogance will diminish the effectiveness of the individual's expert power.
Referent power comes from respect and admiration. This form of power is not as easy to gain as expert power is because it involves likeability and gaining trust from others. Charismatic and empathetic individuals are more likely to have referent power because people trust and follow whom they identify with or aspire to be like. Achieving the lowest level of referent power can be as simple as being polite to others, but to be able to leverage referent power, a person must have traits that make him or her stand out from the rest of the crowd. Knowing who holds referent power is extremely useful when trying to influence a larger or different audience.
Celebrities hold a considerable amount of referent power, and are paid to advertise products and act in movies (Robbins, Judge, 415). Kylie Jenner holds a large amount of referent power in pop culture and social media. Back in February 2018, she tweeted about her dislike for the recent Snapchat design update, and Snapchat's stock immediately dipped (Gartenberg, 2018).
Power and Influence Tactics
It is common for managers to struggle with balancing their position and personal power to influence people in the workplace. Power and influence tactics are tools to aid managers with this dilemma. The most well-known strategies include reason, friendliness, coalition, bargaining, assertiveness, higher authority, and sanctions. Managers can interchange between these seven tactics that is suitable to the situation and in which they believe will be successful in achieving their goal. For example, when speaking to a superior, a friendliness approach should be applied or to make new ideas appealing to superiors, managers should rely on reason.
In addition to the seven tactics, there are eight more basic power tactics—with the exception of coalition being repeated: legitimating, pressure, upward appeals, exchange, coalition, ingratiation, rational persuasion, inspirational appeals, and consultation (Robbins, Judge, 418). The most frequently used is rational persuasion which uses facts, data, and logical arguments to convince others with the power of reason to agree with their best alternative. Legitimating tactics possess the highest rate of compliance due to its nature of complying with rules, laws, and regulations to direct people. People tend to follow professionals that possess authority such as doctors and lawyers. The tactic with the highest rate for commitment is inspirational appeals because it integrates a person's values, emotions, and beliefs into their course of actions. This tactic is appealing and effective due to its authenticity and uniqueness to one's personal aspirations.
The direction of influence—upward, downward, or peer—depends on the target: superiors or subordinates. An upward direction is influencing people of higher positions to reach an overarching goal. The preferred tactic for this direction is rational persuasion. Downward influence is directed towards employees lower than one's position. The goal is to give clarity and help them work towards their end goal. As opposed to the upward direction, there are plenty of preferred tactics to use with this direction: rational persuasion, inspirational appeals, pressure, consultation, ingratiation, exchange, and legitimacy. Lastly, the peer, also known as lateral, is most commonly occurred because it is among peers. However, to ensure it is effective within organizations, they should establish a culture of healthy competition within for peers to influence each other. This could be difficult to balance between being supportive, yet challenging. It is important to keep the end goal in mind, to create better decisions for the organization to improve and grow. Similar to downward influence direction, lateral direction tactics include rational persuasion, consultation, ingratiation, exchange, legitimacy, personal appeals, and coalitions (Robbins, Judge, 419).
Furthermore, impression management is the process by which individuals attempt to control the impression others form of them. It has been scientifically proven that one's first impressions and judgements are made by someone's appearance; therefore, impression management can be applied with choice of clothing or online profile photos. It gives one the power to control how they want information to be received by others of them. Additionally, there are two things that should be done simultaneously to utilize impression management effectively: build credibility and maintain authenticity. For instance, when you are in an informal setting such as spending time with your best friend, you may be revealing your “true self” aspects that you would not disclose in a work setting. This application of impression management is to keep a professional image and expectations. As well as, achieve group cohesiveness to assure you do not offend anyone. However; do not attempt to be too different from your “true self” because too much contradiction with your personal values may lead to psychological distress of juggling two personas. Always remember that whether you take impression management into consideration, your fellow co-workers are observing your behavior and forming an impression of your image regardless; therefore, it is important to be aware of this and manage what type of impressions you are giving for others to draw conclusions from. The easiest way to align yourself with an image you want others to perceive you, is simply asking yourself, “How do I want to be seen?” From answering this question, you will reveal character traits and qualities that are important to one's social identity. To continue narrowing this down, clarify which traits you would want to convey in a professional setting to align with a certain role of a manager, educator, leader, organizer, or facilitator.
Conformity, excuses, apologies, self-promotion, flattery, favors, and association are all techniques of impression management (Robbins, Judge, 432). These can be sorted into three main categories of impression management. First being, as mentioned earlier, nonverbal impression management where your choice of clothing and demeanor—including visible piercings or tattoos—give an impression of who you are to others. The second is verbal, which pertains to your tone of voice, dictions, and rate of speech. Your voice can be a tell if one's confidence depending on the pitch, like a high-pitched, shaky voice can tell someone you are nervous. Behavior impression management relates to your performance and interactions with others. Impression management is significantly present in the workplace, specifically in job interviews and promotions, and should be as significant to be aware of it to benefit one's image.
Causes and Consequences of Abuse of Power
Expression of power varies greatly between everyone, but it is clear that not everyone utilizes it in the way that they should. With power comes a delicate balance between effective and abusive, and the path to abuse of power can look different to many. Regardless of the path taken, the end destination is undesirable and can lead to many consequences that could have been avoided in its absence. The abuse of power occurs when an individual misuses their power to act in unethical ways and is quite broad. Often times, it is a result of having too much power. In other cases, the individual in question might be using power as a way to boost their self-esteem and choose to show it off, or may be trying to increase their wealth and act in corrupt ways to do so. The motive to act in such ways also vary, but there are a few common themes to keep in mind.
Insecurity can be one of the major roots of abuse of power. An individual who has recently come into increasing power but who is insecure in their abilities may not know exactly what to do with it. They might seek the guidance of another, but with that they also run the risk of getting advice from someone with questionable intentions that may want to use the power for unethical reasons. This insecurity is also what leads to the example of self-esteem, where the individual hides behind the power that they did not previously have because it makes them feel better. Hypocrisy is another common theme that goes along with increasing power, as more powerful people tend to be aware of others' wrongdoing, but turn a blind eye to their own unethical conduct due to their heightened sense of importance. They may choose to become excessively focused on following the rules exactly as they are written and attack those who do not while allowing themselves their own flexibility. They can also go the other route and become extremely relaxed, allowing those around them to break the rules and compromise the ethics of the work being done.
The implications of power abuse extend to more than just those contributing to the behavior in question; it also affects those around them. The power abusers will likely face many personal and social problems, but of course one of those consequences may be the loss of their job. Additionally, friends within the workplace may hear about the person's unethical actions and begin to question not only the person's values, but also their friendship. In extreme cases, the firm they work for may also take legal and/or financial action, which may stick to the person for the rest of their life. This change to their reputation may follow them to their future jobs if employees choose to contact the firm to confirm their work history. On a more personal level, the effects may turn into psychological ones, as the potential guilt surrounding their actions may cause much self-doubt, anxiety, and many others.
Looking at the bigger picture, the power abuser's actions may also affect the firm as a whole. If the actions were illegal, the company could potentially face lawsuits, increased external regulation, or pressure from shareholders. In extreme situations, the firm could close down and cause many to lose their jobs. Either way, one individual's actions could lead to severe financial implications for an entire set of people. Employees within the org may also witness changes to the internal structure, as a breach of trust could be created if they feel that they were not protected from such abuse. Psychological effects could also take place depending on the kind of abuse, whether it is manipulation, degradation, or any other behavior affecting someone else's wellbeing.
There are many different reasons as to why one might abuse the powers they are given, but regardless of the circumstances the outcomes are usually not good. While it may seem inevitable, there are still ways to mitigate the risk of it happening or at least taking preemptive steps to lessen the damages that would occur if it does. Checks and balances exist to ensure that people are doing what they are supposed to and that the responsibilities are spread out so that they are not in the hands of just a few people. It creates a better sense of accountability and evaluation in the workplace to diminish the chances that one will abuse their power. Another way to minimize the risk would be to better evaluate those who are going to be given higher positions before they are promoted, to ensure beforehand that they are really suited to handle that responsibility. A common saying is “with great power comes great responsibility,” which ties in greatly to the topic. This newfound sense of responsibility that comes with power gives individuals an increase sense of self-importance, which can greatly increase the chance of going too far. It is important for one to be aware of this possibility so that the behavior can be caught early and stopped before it starts.
Politics: Power in Action
Politics in the workforce refers to the use of organizational power to affect the decisions made by an organization. When people get together in any setting, some will try to get ahead of the pack. This is what we're referring to when we talk about office politics. The political behavior usually consists of actions taken outside an individual's' delegated duties with the intent to influence. These activities are extensive and can be anything from leaking information to the media, whistleblowing or withholding information, to simple things like forming coalitions, arguing for or against something, and spreading rumors (Robbins, Judge,470). This is a comprehensive definition that encompasses all most all the activities that can be considered political. Many of the actions may seem innocent or like standard functions of the everyday business. Because of this, it is hard to know when a person is genuine or playing for some invisible points. Lobbying and exchanging favors are some of the most common, and blatant expressions of political power in the workforce. This action is one reason we have such a negative inclination towards lobbyists and bribers.
Most managers view organizational politics as a necessary evil and say that it is virtually impossible to get anything done without it. According to an OB Poll, 51% of Americans also think that to get ahead in their organizations, people have engaged in some politics (Robbins, Judge, 472). In the most sanitized of cases, managers believe office politics are ethical, as long as no harm comes to anyone. This is known as have your cake and eating it too. In which the managers are justifying a hypothetical situation they may or may not have been party to and claim an ethical appeal under the best of circumstances. There are very few actions that exist in a vacuum, and someone will usually get the raw end of a deal, most likely a person not even privy to it. Often, people rationalize it by assuming that resources are limited, and success for one comes at the expense of another. This zero-sum outlook in a company can stem from the subjective nature of the individuals' opinions, or from an organization encouraging harsh competition. Often in these cases, significant promotions are not based on the hard work done, but on the connections, an employee has to the leadership (Robbins, Judge, 372).
When it comes to office politics, most people say they're necessary to move up, they hate them, and try their best to ignore them. But like most problems ignoring them does nothing to solve the underlying issues, but rather sweeps it out of sight. The article “Why Avoiding Office Politics Could Hurt More Than You Know” on the website Themuse.com talks about this in the workplace. It tells us how to executives see office politics, and the book “Political Skill at Work: Impact on Work Effectiveness.” It summarizes the main points in the book on how to better play the office, without losing sight of who you are. The main four are social astuteness, interpersonal influence, networking ability, and sincerity. Social Astuteness is how much you pay attention to the world around you, and keep track of office relationships. Interpersonal Influence is a person's ability to influence decisions, even though they aren't in a formal position of power. The article stresses the importance of learning from these people and getting on their good side to advance yourself. Networkability is the ability to meet new people, who can advance your career. Finally, sincerity is the most important; it stresses always to stay honest. That way you don't end up hating yourself and becoming the very thing you were trying to ignore in the first place.
The Causes, Consequences, and Ethics of Political Behavior
Not all organizations start out with such deep political divides. There are many individuals and organizational factors that increase political behavior. Individuals factors include high self-monitors, internal locus of control (LOC), organizational investment, perceived job alternatives, and expectations of success. Furthermore, organizational factors include reallocation of resources, promotion opportunities, low trust, role ambiguity, unclear performance evaluation system, zero-sum reward practices, democratic decision making, and high-performance pressures. These factors can increase political behavior and provide favorable outcomes, such as increased rewards and averted punishments for both the individuals and groups within the organization (Robbins, Judge,477). However, organizational politics may threaten employees by decreasing job satisfaction, leading to reduced performance, and may increase anxiety and stress; resulting in an increased turnover rate.
People respond to the games in different ways. Those with modest skills who opt out of them will suffer the most. The phrase out of sight out of mind rings very accurately here. When people don't actively try to draw the attention of their superiors, their coworkers will. The first to get favor with a manager will most likely poison the well for the rest. Many people want to get to work, enjoy it, and then get home to family or hobbies. People like this tend to avoid confrontation, and leave themselves exposed to more savvy coworkers. Defensive behavior also has a high gender divide, where men do better in political environments, and women prefer to play it safe; they thrive in an apolitical office. When employees feel political behavior is a threat, they retreat into themselves and dig a bigger whole (Robbins, Judge, 478).
One of the first ways we are evaluated is by how we dress and present ourselves. Impressions are the reason we go to the gym and spend large amounts of money on high-end clothes. Exercise and clothes won't make people happier, but they will make them more likable, and advance their careers. Impression management is the term for people controlling the way others perceive them (Robbins, Judge, 480). There are many politicking activities that people engage in to regulate impressions. These include Conformity, Favors, Excuses, Apologies, Self-Promotion, Enhancement, Flattery, and Exemplification. Conformity and favors are both forms of integration where a person agrees and provides favors to get a person to like them. Excuses and apologies are forms of defense, where one tries to shift blame or beg for forgiveness. Self-promotion and enhancement are self-focused forms and are used to elevate one's self above their coworkers. Flattery and exemplification are assertive, a person using these works harder, and compliments others on their work. These are the most common classifications of techniques and are very noticeable to people around the office. When interviewing the self-focused and assertive techniques work the best. When it comes to performance evaluations self-focused backfire, but integration techniques positively correlate (Robbins, Judge, 481).
When it comes to the ethics of these actions and techniques, the jury is out. Although it may seem like an unethical behavior, politicking is an integral part of the office. Only the most maternal, and family orientated offices can get away with little or no politics, and real cooperation. Even then, time can change friends into enemies. The most useful wisdom past down from this book is guidance on how to maintain our initial ethical code. When attempting to use politics to gain something, don't lie, and stay honest. Don't infringe on others' rights, and do not harm. If you follow these maxims, it may be more difficult, but it's the most ethical way to make it to the top (Robbins, Judge, 482-483).
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