Monica Ashley’s case is a very conclusive example of how the correct use of power and influence in management is as important as, and sometimes even more important than, having all the right answers and being able to back them up with data. Monica Ashley is a brilliant employee, and a very good Project Manager. She deserves a lot of credit for being able to complete the project, even though she has been removed towards the end. Her ability to concentrate on her work in a hostile environment is admirable. She is very well organized, passionate about her work and able to put the company’s well being above her own personal interests. She seems to understand better than everybody else in the company the need to complete the project in time in order to meet the customers’ changing expectations. She has irrefutable arguments to prove everything that she says. However, the fact that she completely ignores or misuses the sources of power available to her annihilates, in a way, the advantages obtained from her dedication and hard work. The project could have been completed in a much shorter time and with better consequences for her career if she had understood organizational politics and had taken advantage of all the sources of power available to her.
Monica thinks that because Gary Dorr has personally endorsed her to lead Project Hippocrates, she has legitimate power to do everything necessary to complete the project. The fact that she is unwilling to push back a deadline that she has set, although at that moment there was uncertainty about the project’s future, shows how focused Monica is on doing what she knows is right, regardless of how people around her feel. However, she lacks the expert power – because she is not a technical expert, her opinions do not have the same weight as Parker’s. The fact that she has another important source of power – information power, the result of her understanding of complex data and anticipation of future conditions – cannot entirely compensate for her lack of expert power.
On the other hand, the top management sees Parker as the technical authority in the company. Even though known to be inflexible and politically aggressive, he was responsible for the majority of the company’s past technical accomplishments. He has the expert power in the organization, and uses it to refute any attempts to change. Parker has authority and makes extensive use of coercive power as well. Monica’s project, no matter how successful on paper, is still an idea, therefore we can say the Parker’s group has also the power of nonsubstitutability – in other words, they are indispensable to the company. Because of their high degree of centrality within the organization, Parker has the support of top management. Overall, Parker has tremendous power within the organization, and from the beginning Monica sees him as an adversary and underestimates his capacity of fighting back.
In everything she does, Monica makes extensive use of rational persuasion as her principal influence tactic. Her presentations are very convincing and almost always seem to gain the approval of top management. By counting on Dorr and Dan Stella to handle her problems with Parker and Kane, we can say that she also uses upward appeals. Her tactics are effective only to a limited extent, her capacity of pushing the project forward. However, she lets other sources of power to pass by unexploited, and she faces the consequences later. For example, because of her good past relationships with Dorr and Stella, she assumes that they will automatically back her up. She fails though to work on improving these relationships from the new perspective of a more senior executive, and accuses them of abandoning her instead of trying to better understand the message they were trying to convey. On the other hand, Parker and Kane make extensive use of coercive power and pressure, witch Monica could have interpreted as symbols of...