POWER, POLITICS, AND CULTURE
Strayer University BUS520
Leadership behavior is a complex factor which has strong influence over the performance within an organization, as well as on organizational structure. Leadership behavior can be measured in various ways, two being consideration and initiating (Baldwin, David, and Curt Grayson. “Positive Influence: How Leaders Get Others to See It Their Way.”). The dimension of consideration in regard to leadership behavior focuses on connecting with followers on a more personable level by providing more sociably warm environments that don’t emphasize action (Baldwin, David, and Curt Grayson. “Positive Influence: How Leaders Get Others to See It Their Way.”). Inversely, initiating behavior focuses more productivity and less on creating sociable environments (Baldwin, David, and Curt Grayson. “Positive Influence: How Leaders Get Others to See It Their Way.”). In general, leadership behavior has a notable impact on the moral and productivity of workers, and can hinder or promote these factors depending on if a leader is knowledgeable in the concept of power and politics within the work place. Studies on conducted on these types of leadership have come to show that Politics and power-play can have strong impact on how an organization’s culture develops in regards to how leaders and employees interact (Zaleznik, Abraham. “Power and Politics in Organizational Life.”). By employing certain power types, leaders influence the morale and social climate of an organization. Additionally, employing politics, such as abusing the legitimate power of your position, also influences the culture within an organization by having an impact on employees.
Reward power is a managerial power used to incentivize goals by giving employees or follower’s rewards for completing tasks or projects. This type of power can be seen as being inconsistent due to the subjectivity of what an employee or employees may find to be a reward that is proportional to their labor output. Also, the overuse or abuse of a rewards system to incentivize productivity can lead to the novelty of a reward diminishing and being seen as having little to no value to employees. Managers should try and limit the use of reward power, so as to maintain its efficacy, and attempt to make the reward given proportional to the labor produced by workers.
Another type of power that managers have at their disposal is coercive power. Coercive power involves the abuse of a manager or leaders power to bully or force their employees by threat of negative consequences. Coercive power should be avoided, as it decreases moral and can lead to conflict between leaders and their employees.
Referent power is based on a leader’s ability to attract others to them and develop rapport with their followers (Gonclves, Marcus. “Leadership Styles: The Power to Influence Others.”). This type of power is typically developed over time, and is supported by a leader’s successes and competency. Referent power can also be established through a leader’s values, where in some individuals are naturally skilled at this type of power, and others will need to study it to be able to properly exercise it. Referent power is helpful in regards to productivity of workers within an organization in that it by being a leader with good relational standing with you employees or followers you can help to create and maintain a work environment that promotes productivity. Legitimate power is linked to position, and is therefore a product of the organizational structure. A strong example of legitimate power can be seen in the military where in there is a hierarchical structure where in a person’s power is linked to a position, and said power(s) are non-transferable when if that person were to be promoted or demoted. Legitimate power on its own isn’t very useful in regards to influencing others, due to the limitations imposed upon it by its very nature, as such its impact on employee morale and productivity can be regarded as neutral, unless paired with other types of power(Gonclves, Marcus. “Leadership Styles: The Power to Influence Others.”).Expert power is derived from being an expert and having vast knowledge in the area for that you are responsible for, for example CEOs and CFO have the in-depth knowledge to command knowledge as an expert within their field.
Expert power is a highly beneficial power since it shows followers that you are the power to defer to due to your knowledge. The use of information, or simply having information that another does not possess, is informational power. Informational power is typically used as a means of spreading change and can take the form of propaganda or ratings, for example. Informational power can be used as a way to measure and keep track of performance metrics so as a leader you can improve tasks and processes involved within an organization.
The study of power and politics could influence leadership behavior and improve the culture of the organization by giving those who study power and politics a better understanding of how to handle job demands more fluidly, as well as give them the tools necessary to better implement various types of power to better benefit productivity and climate within the work place. By studying power, and developing a deeper understanding of how power dynamics can improve employee morale and productivity by knowing when and what type of power to use. Furthermore, by understanding when it is appropriate to use power a leader can better engage with the politics in a workspace from a more nuanced and efficient stand point (Zaleznik, Abraham. “Power and Politics in Organizational Life.”). In regards to politics within the workplace, an understanding of work place politics can help a leader navigate situations more efficiently by allowing them to know how and when to use power and influence to manage situations. For example, having an in-depth understanding of politics can help prevent coalitions between employees forming against leaders in higher positions in situations where leaders have to apply legitimate power and pressure tactics which may negatively impact morale of employees.
By having a strong understanding of power and politics, leadership behavior can be better managed to know when to employ certain tactics and powers to with having minimal to no negative impact on employee relations. In addition to this, better understandings of politics and power leads to better leadership overall due to having the tools necessary to better manage various situations that may arise. This can also improve an organization’s culture in that it can help to promote a workplace that has less conflict between leaders and employees by knowing how to moderate and improve the social climate within the workplace (Zaleznik, Abraham. “Power and Politics in Organizational Life.”). Along with this, knowing what power is linked to which positions and how said positions interact within the political structure of the work environment is also beneficial in that it allows you to know how to positively manipulate relations between leaders and employees so as to encourage a culture that does not depend on power dynamics as the driving for within a company.
Baldwin, David, and Curt Grayson. “Positive Influence: How Leaders Get Others to See It Their
Way.” Leadership in Action, vol. 24, no. 1, 2004, pp. 8–11., doi:10.1002/lia.1052.
Gonclves, Marcus. “Leadership Styles: The Power to Influence Others.” International Journal of
Business and Social Sciences , vol. 4, no. 4, Apr. 2013, doi:DOI: 10.30845/ijbss.
Zaleznik, Abraham. “Power and Politics in Organizational Life.” Harvard Business Review,
Harvard Business Review, 1 Aug. 2014, hbr.org/1970/05/power-and-politics-in-