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, ita€™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 someonea€™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.

Managera€™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 dona€™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 organizationa€™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 powera€™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 othera€™s values, personality, and intelligence and express confidence in the persona€™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 dona€™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 onea€™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, ita€™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 person directly or indirectly achieve his or her goals.

Legitimate, reward and coercive are sources of power granted formally by the organization and informally by co-workers; they are positional powers (McShane, Steven L, Mary Ann Von Glinow, 2010). Legitimate power is an agreement among organizational members that people in certain roles can request certain behaviors of others. It depends on mutual agreement from those expected to abide by this authority (McShane, Steven L, Mary Ann Von Glinow, 2010). True and lasting power comes from being a leader worthy of respect and admiration.

If you treat people with dignity and respect, you will build a trusting relationship and people will look up to you, listen to what you say, and want to be like you. Reward power derived from the persona€™s ability to control the allocation of rewards valued by others and to remove negative sanctions. Managers have power over the distribution of organizational rewards such as pay, promotions, time off, vacation schedules, and work assignments (McShane, Steven L, Mary Ann Von Glinow, 2010). This power comes with the position and can be taken away if the position is removed. Coercive power is the ability to apply punishment.

Employees also have coercive power to ensure that co-workers conform to team norms (McShane, Steven L, Mary Ann Von Glinow, 2010). You have this kind of power when youa€™re in a position to punish others if they dona€™t do what you want. People fear the consequences of not doing what has been asked of them. Expert and referent powers are based on an individuala€™s personal power. These powers are based on charisma, likeability, and positive feelings the leader generates among subordinates (Wood, 2010). There is research suggesting that charismatic leadership is negatively related to harmful behaviors in the workplace.

For example, transformational leadership was negatively associated with safety accidents which charisma is a large component of (Hale, 2010). These powers originate from the power holders characteristics and are power bases brought to the organization. Expert power is an individuala€™s or work unita€™s capacity to influence others by possessing knowledge or skills that others value (McShane, Steven L, Mary Ann Von Glinow, 2010). This power is based on what you know and will quickly gain you respect and influence in the workplace.

It is all about knowing your job and doing it well and not being afraid in learning all that you can. It could potentially be the basis for a managerial role for an employee. Referent power is a function of a persona€™s interpersonal skills which allows others to identify with them, like them, or respect them and is associated with charismatic leadership (McShane, Steven L, Mary Ann Von Glinow, 2010). People are well liked and are considered role models because of their connection and concern for other people. People who are well-liked and respected have a tremendous amount of referent power.

A wise leader knows how and when to apply the right amount of power to influence an individual, group, or situation to move an agenda forward (McShane, Steven L, Mary Ann Von Glinow, 2010). In order to be an effective leader, a person cannot rely solely on either of these positions of power. Leading by example, offering rewards, or threatening punishments all can be used as power tools to accomplish goals, however more power can be gained by sharing it among the team in a more subtle and counterintuitive way (Wood, 2010). If you want your team to be ethical and respectful of each other, I believe the example should start from the top.

Using influence tactics well requires a healthy combination of interpersonal, communication, presentation, and assertiveness techniques, verbal skills such as asserting, probing, persisting, speaking conversationally, and willingness to ask for favors ( (Selling and Persuaion Techniques ). Influence refers to any behavior that attempts to alter someonea€™s attitudes or behaviors (McShane, Steven L, Mary Ann Von Glinow, 2010). You may try to exert your influence through coercion and manipulation and you might even get things done but that isna€™t really influencing.

Thata€™s forcing people to do what you want them to do and often against their will. Effective leaders use combinations of various strategies for different purposes under different conditions which can be classified under three categories: retribution, reciprocation, and reason (Michelson). Organizational behavior researchers have considered the various types of influence tactics found in organizational settings; they are silent authority, assertiveness, informational control, coalition formation and upward appeal known as a€? harda€? influences because they force behavior change through position power.

Persuasion, ingratiation and impression management, and exchange are referred to as a€? softa€? influences because they rely more on personal sources of power and appeal to the persona€™s attitude and need (McShane, Steven L, Mary Ann Von Glinow, 2010). a€? Silent authority influences behavior through legitimate power without openly referring to that base power. An employee depends on superior for some favors in work allotment, work schedules, job security, transfers, promotions, information etc. Therefore the superior has power over his subordinate and can control his behavior. €? Assertiveness actively applies legitimate and coercive power by applying pressure or threats. a€? Information control explicitly manipulates someone elsea€™s access to information for the purpose of changing their attitude or behavior. a€? Coalition formation forms a group that attempts to influence others by pooling the resources of power of its member. a€? Upward appeal gain support from one or more people with higher authority or expertise. a€? Persuasion is using logical arguments, factual evidence, and emotional appeals to convince people of the value of a request.

It is important to be able to influence others knowing that something said or done has influenced their behavior or thinking. a€? Ingratiation and impression management attempts to increase liking by, or perceived similarity to, some targeted person. a€? Exchange promises neither benefits nor resources in exchange for the target persona€™s compliance. Research conducted over the 30 years that indicates virtually anyone can apply the principles of influence to change the outcome of any personal interaction.

This research is based upon extensive observation of leading salespeople inside a wide variety of industries. By studying individuals in sales situations, scientists have been able to identify certain patterns of behavior and speech that increase the likelihood of someone saying yes to a request (Selling and Persuaion Techniques ). A leader must maintain perspective in terms of targeting power to achieve successful influence. Exerting power is a process, which when followed, gets other people to do what you want them to do. Each time this process is used a repertoire and a base for success is being built.

People are more willing to come halfway if they feel acknowledged, understood and appreciated. They may even end up agreeing to something that they wouldna€™t ordinarily do if they feel good about making the choice. Whatever the arena you work, influencing others is about having confidence and willingness to use yourself to make things happen. Influencing people is the ability to work a dynamic. The key to acquiring power and influence in the workplace is a simple process that involves treating people with respect and dignity.

The position of power does not give you the permission to do and act anyway you chose, we are all accountable for our actions regardless of the status in an organization. References Hale, D. (2010, Nov 5). Leadership Power and Influence in the Workplace. Retrieved from Ezine Articles: http://ezinearticles. com/? Leadership-Power-and-Influence-in-the-Workplace&id=5331663 McShane, Steven L, Mary Ann Von Glinow. (2010). In Organizational Behavior: Emerging Knowledge And Practice For The Real World – 5th Edition (pp. 447-449). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin. Michelson, B. J. (n. d. ).