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Power, politics and leadership



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  • Power – the potential or ability to influence decisions and control resourcesOrganizational power can be derived from many sources
  • LEGITIMATE POWERPeople at at the highest levels in the organization have more power than people below them.Organizational culture helps establish the limits to anyone’s power Coercive powerA common coercive tactic is for executive to demote a subordinate manager if he or she does not comply with the executive’s plan for change
  • When leaders start losing to control resources, their power decilnes.Case Study : Donald Trump.When his holdings generates positive cash flow and his image was extra ordinary, he draws many investors.When his cash flow is negative, he finds difficultyin looking for investors.In 1993, Trump has improved his companyBy 1996 his company improved significiantly.In 2004, Trump casino filed bankruptcy to refinance his debt.
  • When an organizations faces lawsuit, the legal l department assumes power and influence over organizational decisions.Centrality is the extent to which a unit’s activities are linked into the system of organizational activities.
  • A leader’s power and influence increases when he shares power with others.A truly powerful leader makes team members feel powerful and able to accomplish tasks of its own.As Steven Covey notes, empowerment and leadership distribution are happening among progressive companies throughout the world.
  • 1. Almost any form of participative management , shared decisionmakingand delegation can be regarded as empowerment
  • 1. The focus of empowerment is on the changes taking place within the individual.
  • 1. Organizational Politics refers to informal approaches to gaining power through means other than merit or luck.
  • Niccolo Machiavelli ( 1469-1527) , an Italian political philosopher and statesman . His famous work, The Prince, describes how a leader may acquiire and maintain power.Machiavelli’s ideal prince was an amoral, manipulating tyrant who would restore the Italian city-state of Florence to its formal glory.360 years later, a study by Gerald Biberman showed a positive relationship between Machivellianism and political behavior .


  • 1. Power, Politics and Leadership
    Mindanao University of Science and Technology
    Lecturer: Enrique S. Guevarra , MEd
  • 2. Learning Objectives
    After studying these topics and doing the exercises , you should be able to
    • Recognize the various types of power
    • 3. Identify tactics used for becoming an empowering leader
    • 4. Know how to use delegation to support empowerment.
    • 5. Pinpoint factors contributing to organizational politics.
    • 6. Describe both ethical and unethical political behaviors.
    • 7. Explain how a leader can control dysfunctional politics.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 8. Sources and Types of Power
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 9. Position Power
    Personal Power
    Power Stemming from Ownership
    Power Stemming from Providing Resources
    Power Derived from Capitalizing on opportunity.
    Power Stemming from Managing Critical Problems
    Power Stemming from Being Close to Power
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 10. Position Power
    Power is frequently classified according to whether its stems from the organization or the individual
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 11. Four bases of power :
    Legitimate Power - the lawful right to make a decision and expect compliance .
    Reward Power – the authority to give employees rewards for compliance
    Coercive Power is the power to punish non compliance ; it is based on fear.
    Information power is power stemming from formal control over the information people need to do their work.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 12. Personal Power
    This power is derived from the person rather than the organization
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 13. Types of Personal Power
    Expert power is the ability to influence others through specialized knowledge , skills or abilities.
    Referent power is the ability to influence others through one’s desirable traits and characteristics
    Prestige power stems from one’s status and reputation
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 14. Power Stemming from Ownership
    Executive leaders accrue power in their capacity as agents acting on behalf of share holders.
    The strength of ownership power depends on how closely the leader is linked to shareholders and board members.
    A leader’s ownership is also associated with how much money he or she has invested in the firm.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 15. Power stemming from Providing Resources
    The organization requires a continuing flow of human resources, money, customers and clients , technological inputs and materials to continue to function.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 16. Power Derived from Capitalizing on Opportunity
    Power can be derived from being in the right place and taking the appropriate action.
    It pays to be “ where the action is”.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 17. Power Stemming from Managing Critical Problems
    The strategic contingency theory of power suggests that units best able to cope with the firm’s critical problems and uncertainties acquire relatively large amounts of power.
    The Strategic contingency theory concerns the power a person acquires by virtue of centrality.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 18. Power Stemming from Being Close to Power
    The closer a person is to power , the greater power he or she exerts.
    The higher unit reports in a firm’s hierarchy , the more power it possesses.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 19. Tactics for Becoming an Empowering Leader
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 20. The Nature of Empowerment
    Empowerment refers to passing decision making authority and responsibility from managers to group members
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 21. Components of Empowerment ( Gretchen M. Spreitzer)
    Meaning – the value of work goal , evaluated in relation to a person’s ideals or standards.
    Competence or self-efficacy is an individual’s belief in his or her capability to perform a particular task well.
    Self-determination – is an individual’s feeling of having a choice in initiating and regulating actions.
    Impact is the degree to which the worker can influence strategic, administrative or operating outcomes on the job.
    Internal commitment takes place when workers are committed to a particular project , person or program, for individual motives.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 22. Empowering Practices
    Foster Initiative and Responsibility
    Link Work Activities to Organizational Goals
    Provide Ample Information
    Allow Group Members to Choose Methods.
    Encourage Self-leadership
    Implement Team-based Human Resource Policies
    Establish Limits to Empowerment
    Continue to Lead
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 23. Effective Empowering Practices
    Foster Initiative and Responsibility
    Link Work Activities to Organizational Goals
    Provide Ample Information
    Allow Group Members to Choose Methods.
    Encourage Self-leadership
    Implement Team-based Human Resource Policies
    Establish Limits to Empowerment
    Continue to Lead
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 28. Factors contributing to Organizational Politics
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 29. Organizational politics refers to informal approaches to gain power through means other than merit or luck.
    Politics are played to achieve power, either directly or indirectly.
    Power may be achieved
    By being promoted
    By receiving a larger budget or other resources
    By obtaining more resources for one’s group
    By being exempt from undesirable assignments.
    Researchers concluded that “ Political skill is an interpersonal style that combines social awareness with the ability to communicate well. ( Ferrez et al 2000)
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 30. Many writers still regard organizational politics as emphasizing self-interest at the expense of others , engaging in mysterious activities or “ kissing up”
    “It’s often a question of language. When we won on an issue, we call it leadership. When we lose, we call it politics. Practicing politics simply means increasing your options for effective results ( Labarre 1999)
    People want power for many different reasons, which is why political behavior is so widespread in organizations. By definition , politics is used to acquire power.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 31. Pyramid-Shaped Organization Structure
    A pyramid concentrates power at the top.
    Each successive layer on the organization chart has less power than the layer above.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 32. Subjective Standards of Performance
    People often resort to organizational politics because they do not believe that the organization has an objective and fair way of judging their performance and suitability for promotion.
    “It’s not what you know but who you know” applies to organizations that lack clear-cut standards of performance.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 33. Environmental Uncertainty and Turbulence
    When people operate in an unstable and unpredictable environment , they tend to behave politically.
    They rely on organizational politics to create a favorable impression because uncertainty makes it difficult to determine what they should really be accomplishing.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 34. Emotional Insecurity
    Some people resort to political maneuvers to ingratiate themselves with superiors because they lack confidence in their talents and skills.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 35. Machiavellian Tendencies
    Some people engage in political behavior because they want to manipulate others, sometimes their own personal advantage.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 36. The Organizational Politics Questionnaire
    Please refer to the the word format
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 37. Encouraging Admiration from Subordinates
    Most organizational leaders say they do not encourage kissing up and that they prefer honest feedback from subordinates
    Managers , as well as other workers, send out subtle signals that they want to be praised, such as smiling after receiving a compliment and frowning when receiving negative feedback.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 38. Political Tactics and Strategies
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 39. Ethical Political Tactics and Strategies
    Strategies Aimed at Gaining Power
    Develop power contacts
    Control Vital information
    Stay informed.
    Control lines of communication
    Bring in outside experts
    Make a quick showing
    Remember that everyone expects to be paid back
    Be the first to accept reasonable changes
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 40. Ethical Political Tactics and Strategies
    Strategies and Tactics aimed at
    Display loyalty
    Manage your impression
    Ask satisfied customers to contact your boss.
    Be courteous, pleasant and positive.
    Ask advice.
    Building Relationships
    Send thank-you notes to large numbers of people.
    Flatter others sensibly
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 41. Ethical Political Tactics and Strategies
    Strategies aimed at Political Blunders
    Criticizing the boss in a public forum.
    Bypassing the boss.
    Declining an offer from top management.
    Putting your foot in your mouth
    Not conforming to the company dress code
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 42. Unethical Political Tactics and Strategies
    • The ubiquitous back stab requires that you pretend to be nice but all the while plan someone’s demise.
    Embrace or Demolish
    • It suggests that you remove from the premises rivals who suffered past hurts through your efforts ; otherwise the wounded rivals might retaliate at a vulnerable moment.
    Setting a Person Up for Failure
    • The object of a set up is to place a person in a position where he or she will either fail outright or look ineffective
    Divide and Rule
    • The object is to have subordinates fight among themselves , thus yielding the balance of power to another person.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 43. Unethical Political Tactics and Strategies
    Playing Territorial Games
    • Territorial games involve protecting and hoarding resources that give one power , such as information , relationships and decision making authority.
    • 44. People arte greedy to survive in a corporate world.
    Creating and Then Resolving a False Catastrophe
    • An advanced devious tactic is for a manager to pretend a catastrophe exists and then proceed to rescue others from the catastrophe , thereby appearing to be a superhero. ( Sandberg 2003)
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 45. Exercising Control over Dysfunctional Politics
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 46. Organizational politics can hurt an organization and its members.
    Too much politicking can result in wasted time and effort , thereby lowering productivity.
    A study of 1,730 employees in four organizations investigated how the perception of political behavior was related to certain outcomes. Among the findings were as follows :
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 47. Perceptions of political behavior taking place in the work group were associated with less commitment to the organization and a stronger turnover intention with less commitment to the organization and a stronger turnover intention
    Perceptions of political behavior taking place throughout the organization were also associated with less commitment to the organization and a stronger turnover intention ( Maslyn and Fedor 1998)
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 48. How to control dysfunctional politics?
    Avoiding favoritism
    Setting good examples at the top of the organization.
    Sharing of similar goals among the individuals and the organization
    Hiring people with integrity
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 49. SUMMARY
    Organizational power is derived from
    Position Power
    Personal Power
    Power stems from
    Control of resources
    Capitalizing on opportunities
    Managing critical problems
    Being close to power
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 50. SUMMARY
    Full-pledged empowerment includes
    Dimensions of meaning
    Internal commitment
    Actions taken to become an empowering leader
    Foster initiative and responsibility
    Link work activities to the goals of the organization
    Provide ample information
    Allow group members to choose methods.
    Encourage self-leadership
    Implement team-based human resource policies
    Establish limits to empowerment
    Continue to lead.
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 51. SUMMARY
    To acquire and retain power , a leader must skillfully use organizational politics. Contributing factors include
    Pyramidal shape of organization
    Subjective performance standards
    Environmental uncertainty
    Emotional insecurity
    Encouraging admiration from subordinates
    Political tactics and strategies
    Ethical methods
    Aimed at gaining power
    Aimed at building relationships
    Aimed at avoiding political blunders
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 52. Unethical tactics
    Embrace or demolish strategy
    Constitute another category of political behavior
    Power, Politics and Leadership
  • 53. Reference
    Dubrin, A.J. 2007, Leadership : Research Findings , Practice, and Skills Fifth edn, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.
    Power, Politics and Leadership