Power & Politics in Organizations. Professor Stephen Standifird GSBA 594 Welcome, I’m glad you’re here! Today’s Agenda Go over syllabus, in detail Establish ground rules for the class Identify your perceptions of power and politics Introduce French & Raven . Syllabus Overview.
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“To say, a leader is preoccupied with power, is like saying that a tennis player is preoccupied with making shots his opponent cannot return. Of course leaders are preoccupied with power! The significant questions are: What means do they use to gain it? How do they exercise it? To what ends do they exercise it?” (p12)
“We almost invariably spend more time living with the consequences of our decisions than we do making them . . . it would seem at least useful to spend more time implementing decisions and dealing with their ramifications.” (p19)
1. Decide what your goals are.
2. Diagnose patterns of dependence and interdependence.
3. Analyze views of powerful individuals.
4. Determine the power base of potential influential persons.
5. Determine your power base.
6. Determine which power strategies/tactics seems most appropriate/effective.
7. Choose the appropriate course of action.
Summary List of Power Creating Circumstances:
1. When resources are scarce2. When goals and objectives are unclear
3. When performance is difficult to measure
4. Where there are minimal external threats5. Where there exists a certain level of dependency6. Where there is moderate to high uncertainty
“To be successful in getting things done in organizations, it is critical that you be able to diagnose the relative power of the various participants and comprehend the patterns of interdependence.” (p49)
“There are three tasks required . . .
Methods for Assessing Power:
“Power is not employed when there are no differences in perspective, or when no conflict exists, As a consequence, power is most readily diagnosed by looking at important decisions, which involve interdependent activities and which lead to disagreement.”
“Be conservative in your estimates; it is preferable to overestimate potential dependencies rather than to be surprised at the last minute by a person or group you failed to consider; the best surprise is no surprise.”
“Our first task is to determine whether the most critical source of power is individual characteristics or location in the organization. Although individual attributes are important, my view is that being in the right place is more essential.” Pg. 69
“Structural perspectives on power argue that power is derived from where each person stands in the division of labor and the communication system of the organization… Power, then, comes from the control over resources, from ties one has to powerful others, and from the formal authority one obtains because of one’s position in the hierarchy.” Pg. 75
“As situational factors change, the attributions required to be influential and effective change as well. That is why it is important not only to find positions with the political demands that match our skills and interests, but also to tailor our actions to the circumstance we confront.” Pg. 81
“New Golden Rule: the person with the gold makes the rules” pg. 83
“Begin by building a power base in a niche that is largely uncontested… the most precious resources in any organization is an incremental resource, not already spoken for, that can then be used to solve the organization’s current problems… power can often be increased by finding underutilized resources and exploiting them.”
“Failures in implementation are almost invariably failures to build successful coalitions. Although networks of allies can obviously be misused, the are nevertheless essential in order to get things done. And, allies must be put in place through whatever practical means are at hand.” Pg. 108
“Respect, competence, and intelligence are not enough. One needs friends and allies to attend to the many details of implementation, which are often too much for one person… Allies and resources are important sources of power, and as such, should not be wasted.” Pg. 110
“Power is a function of one’s position in the network of communications and social relations, where this position is assessed not only simply in terms of structural centrality, but also in terms of the power of the people with whom one is connected.” Pg. 111
“To develop influence, we need to be plugged into the structure of communication and interaction, and that means seeking out interactions, even social interactions, strategically.” Pg 124
“Social networks are, then, structures that can be built deliberately, and our place in the network of communications is something that is under our control. We can work the numbers or the halls – and often it is more effective to work the halls.” Pg. 125
“Because the framing of an issue can decide the outcome, it is important to be early in the process of setting the terms of the discussion” pg. 205
I’m considering going up for Tenure early. What advice do you have for me?
As related to:
“Perhaps there is a greater sin than making mistakes or influencing others - the sin of doing nothing, of being passive in the face of great challenges and opportunities, and even great problems… Being personally effective requires at least two things: knowing how to get things done and being willing to do them” pg. 300
and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
The purpose of this write-up is to have you reflect on what you believe to be the appropriate uses of power and influence. The attempt here is not to prescribe a particular ethic concerning the use of power and influence. Instead, you are asked to develop their own opinions concerning the appropriate use of power and influence.
(2 page max)
Things to thing about for the next class: