Barton J. Michelson
Mention the word power and what comes to mind? Power is evil, corrupt, self-serving, manipulative, hurtful, and possibly “America’s last dirty word.”1 These words speak to the dark side of power. There is, however, a positive face to addressing power acquisition, power-base development, and power use. The purpose of this article is to consider power as a positive force that is continually used to achieve organizational, group, and individual goals. When power is used in an ethical and purposeful way, there is nothing evil about it. This paper posits that leadership is the exercise of power; and, therefore, leaders must develop appropriate organizational power bases to use effectively their power to influence others. A power-base development model is constructed to show various deployments of power. This model establishes an interactive link between a leader’s power base and alternative influence strategies that produce positive power dynamics. The significance of this proposed model is that it accentuates the leadership role in developing positive organizational and interpersonal relationships that are predicated on the employment of certain known power bases in an organization. The power dynamics described in this model apply to all organizations regardless of size, goal, mission, technology, and so forth. The structure of the model is fashioned from a review of recognized and accepted literature on power theory, power-base formation, leadership, and organizational dynamics. The works of John Kotter, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, David A. Whetton, and Kim S. Cameron were invaluable in constructing an expanded model that displays both the dependent and interdependent relationships considered critical to power acquisition, power transformations, power dynamics, and organization effectiveness. The model’s design... [continues]
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