Power and Influence

Topics: Power, Exercise Pages: 5 (1253 words) Published: January 26, 2013

If the population decided collectively that they did not want to obey the laws of a country, there is little that the police or the government could do about it. Why, then do people generally do what the government wants and, within the working situation, why do people do what their line manager wants, most of the time?

The consequences of refusing may be the most obvious reason. However, most requests, by a line manager, are not "sacking" offences and most people do not comply with the requests on the basis of fear of the punishment, if they do not.

The same applies to the role of Coding Specialist / Trainer while some of what you suggest will be a legal or organisational requirement most things will not.

For most people complying with the requests of a manager or other person with power in an organisation has two primary aspects to it. Firstly, there is the concern about the consequences of not doing as asked. The organisation you work for pays your wages. As a result, most people give their time and effort to the job in repayment. In addition, however, a manager or other person is often in a position to reward them with even more than their pay. This ability to reward takes many forms, from praise and recognition, to the opportunities for advancement and promotion. Furthermore, there is often an interpersonal element to the relationship. The person may do as asked because their relationship is good or they want it to be that way.

This two-pronged approach to management or leadership is sometimes referred to as ‘power and influence’ with power, being the exercise of the more negative aspects and influence being on the positive and encouraging side They are both present in the relationship between anyone in a management or leadership position and the person who works for them or is responsible to them.

The easiest way to examine the concepts is through your own experience.

Practical Exercise: Power

Identify the people who have exercised power in your life. That is those people who have been able to force you to do things against your will.

Describe how those people exercised their power?

What was the source of their power?


For some with power, the source is clear, their ability to remove your livelihood is an obvious source of power, as is the fact that they are bigger or stronger than you. For others, the power source is not as clear. You feel you have to do as you are told but there is no obvious penalty for not doing so. It may be helpful to think of power as coming from a number of sources, as follows:

Traditional Power
This is the power exercised by, for example, a member of government, religious leaders or other ruling class. We listen to them because of who they are and because of the traditional loyalty and respect we have for the position. We also obey because they expect us to.

Anyone in a position which traditionally commands respect and obedience can have this power. Managers (and Coding Specialists / Trainers) have this type of power, and in some organisations once, you assume the title "manager" you will automatically be accorded that respect. Hopefully the same will apply to those with the job title, Coding Specialist / Trainer

In addition the Coding Specialist / Trainer will have the power of the law on his / her side.

Power Arising from Knowledge, Ability and Skill
A doctor has authority arising from his / her position which is, partly traditional, but also because of the access he / she has to a body of knowledge or skill.

Many jobs have this, in the circumstances particular to their area of knowledge, but not beyond that. With some jobs, such as that of doctor, the respect and power can extend into other areas. Most people would listen to a car mechanic giving advice about cars but would find him / her less credible on education or health...
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