Power and Influence in the Workplace

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Power and Influence in the Workplace
MGT 316

As a manager or leader of an organization of any kind, the power and ability to effectively lead others are in the choices made to build a healthy, motivational, and productive relationship with people on your team. We all influence others in some way, it’s just that we seldom realize that we do or how we do it. Power in the workplace has traditionally been defined as force, dominance, assertiveness, strength, invincibility, and authority. In forward thinking corporations, power requires a commitment and a plan of action (Hale, 2010). Power and influence are somewhat interchangeable. Power is the capacity of a person, team, or organization to influence others. Power is not the act of changing someone’s attitudes or behavior; it is only the potential to do so. You might feel powerful or think you have power over someone else, but this is not power unless you truly have the capacity to influence that person (McShane, Steven L, Mary Ann Von Glinow, 2010). One of the hardest lessons of management is that practically everything that has to be done must be done by others. Manager’s duties not only include directing employees but controlling the budget, assets, and other jobs within the organization as well. Leadership is the ability to get people to do what they don’t want to do and like it. In other words, the core problem for leaders in any organization involves getting others to do what is required to accomplish the organization’s goals (Michelson).

The concept of power and its application to leadership and management has gotten a bad reputation. Terms such as power hungry, abuse of power and corrupted by power have diluted power’s real use and meaning and deprived some leaders of the opportunity to understand and use various forms of power to good purposes (Wood, 2010). I like to believe people misuse their power simply because they have it and are unaware of it. When used in a positive, moral, and ethical manner, power is an excellent resource. It requires the perception of dependence, so people might gain power by convincing others that they have something of value, whether or not they actually control that resource. Consequently power exists when others believe that you control resources they want (McShane, Steven L, Mary Ann Von Glinow, 2010). People rely on their emotion more frequently than they realize to make decisions, so to become a more powerful influencer, it is wise to consider other’s values, personality, and intelligence and express confidence in the person’s ability to accomplish the job. The type of power applied affects the type of influence the power holder has over the other person or work unit. Everyone has power and I don’t believe that to be a bad thing. The issue becomes what kind of power a person has and how it is used. The most powerful source is based on one’s position within an organization and the authority given in that position (Wood, 2010). An abusive boss can lose respect and influence from their team members. As a leader, your influence and power are not only about getting the job done, it’s about the relationships you develop in the workplace. A supervisor on my job is retiring in a couple of months and it seems her whole attitude and demeanor has changed. She seems to be on a quest to get all the people she wants out of the company and all that she wants promoted before she leaves. The influence and respect that she once possessed is no longer apparent or given to her and the morale in the office is very low. Her tactics to get the job done are threatening, humiliating, and demeaning for some of the employees. They are afraid to go above her for the fear of retaliation, so they wait and hope that their jobs are safe until she retires. French and Raven, social psychologists, identified five sources of power - legitimate, coercive, reward, expert, and referent - that help the dependent...
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