Section 3.5. The Power Paradox

3.5. The Power Paradox

Power is an interesting and complex subject to study, especially in organizations, because it is full of contradictions. Here are two good examples: Have you ever known someone with positional power who was completely powerless? Have you ever known an administrative assistant (or equivalent) that was the "go to" person and had tremendous informal power? Most of us have experienced these two extremes. There are several interesting dynamics related to power that are worth discussing so you understand the power dynamics in your company as well as how to (or not to) wield your own influence.

  • Organizations work better when people have more power. When people are powerless, they are less motivated, have less commitment, and tend to dislike their jobs. They tend to rely heavily on rules and regulations and the environment becomes petty or dictatorial. Most people prefer working for a powerful boss because he or she does not rely solely on rules and regulations, but fosters an environment of interest, commitment, and appropriate professional challenges (opportunities to learn).

  • Overuse of organizational power reduces that power. These are the people who often inspire contempt because they don't know how to use any type of power except that bestowed upon them by their position. They often lord that power over people and as a result, their effectiveness diminishes. Again, they may be able to demand short-term compliance, but that's all they'll get and even that will diminish over time.

  • Frequent use of power leads to a distorted sense of power. People that often use power inappropriately to get results tend to develop an over-sized sense of power and self. They tend to see themselves as more important and more key to the organization than they really are. The ancient expression "Pride goeth before the fall" is appropriate here. The overuse of any form of power eventually backfires, especially when that overuse stems from self-serving motives.

  • The more you share your power, the more powerful you become.

    This is a very interesting notion, especially for those power misers who believe just the opposite. Managers who share power with subordinates generate increased commitment and improved group performance. Shared power helps people learn to make better decisions, which not only helps them as individual performers, but helps the group perform at a higher level as well. As an IT manager, a team that is empowered will help you make better decisions by "pushing back" when you propose something flawed (or flat out wrong). As individuals and the team perform better, the manager is perceived as a better manager and is bestowed more organizational power (typically in the form of information and resources).

How to Cheat at IT Project Management
How to Cheat at IT Project Management
ISBN: 1597490377
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 166

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