Posted by: christopherfeld | April 5, 2011

Leveraging power and politics

Are power and politics dirty words? Can one use power and politics in positive or beneficial way? This post will address just that–and I believe that power and politics can be used for good (or evil). Content based on Dr. Jeffery Thompson’s class lecture, Fall 2009.

Competing Views on Power

Power as a control issue. In this view, power comes from coercion, dominance, and justice. From this view, power is self-focused, gratifying, immediate, hard to maintain, and externally focused.

The other view point was based in self-control. In this view, power comes from inclusion, influence, respect, empowerment, sharing power, dominion (with power coming from below).

Power and Politics

Power is the capacity to influence the behavior of others even in the face of resistance.

Politics is deliberate attempts to influence others in specific ways and or develop or reinforce one’s power bases.

Power and Politics–Dirty Words?

The number one cause of executive derailment is the inability to influence (requirement in a new position). This can occur when one misreads the political landscape and acts inappropriately. There can be insufficient power for the new position (inadequate or underdeveloped power base. )

The Morality of Power and Politics

Power isn’t bad or immoral–it just is. To use power, it is about doing it with positive intention and motives.

Two types of power:

  1. Power that is derived from one’s position in the organization and resources one controls (self interested orientation).
  2. Personal power that one derives from one’s relationship with others (encourages social responsibility).

It’s good to have both.

Strategies for Increasing Power

To enhance power, increase centrality – make your networks well connected (so long as you are in the middle of the network, you can be connected to everything and people we depend on you to transfer information across the network.

Structural Hole Theory – you will increase your influence the extent to which you fill your structural holes (structure your friends in a way that you put distance between them to keep them from talking to each other, and keeping you the most important element that holds it all together. Linking informal networks gives you power. Good in theory, but could be ethically troubling.

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