Chapter ThreeAuthority, Power, and Influence APPLICABLE ISLLC STANDARDS Standard 2: sustaining a school culture and instructional program conducive to student learning and staff professional growth Standard 3: ensuring management of the organization, operations, and resources for a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment. Standard 4: collaborating with families and community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources.
Authority Defined Authority can be defined as a right granted to a manager to make decisions within limitations, to assign duties to subordinates, and to require subordinates’ conformance to expected behavior. Authority is power-conferred, allowing an administrator the right to decide, direct, or control.
WHAT LEGITIMATES AUTHORITY? Authority may come from “higher up.” It may be derived from a governing board or a superior within the organization. Authority may come from tradition. Authority may be earned or perceived as being deserved.
TWO COMPETING BASES OF AUTHORITY Cooper argues that there are two separate –even competing– bases of authority.
Administrators base their authority on their status in their organizational hierarchy.
Teachers base their authority on their knowledge of the subject matter and on their expertise in pedagogy as it relates to their students.
Teachers believe that they have authority and control over children and classrooms, whereas administrators believe that all the authority and control emanates from them, that is, top-down control. These beliefs or myths impair innovations initiated by top leadership because teachers are not part of the process.
TWO COMPETING BASES OF AUTHORITY (cont) Ogawa and Bossert assert that the “medium” and the “currency” of leadership lie in the personal resources of people. The more resources people have and the kinds of resources they possess or have access to can give them greater power. The currency of leadership, essential to influencing others, involves a wide variety of factors.
Those leaders who relied more on their personal power than on their job title or credentials were the leaders most able to mobilize resources, instill confidence, motivate those under their authority, and encourage their creativity. An administrator, especially one new to a school district, should give high priority to the identification and understanding of sources that grant and limit authority.
SOURCES THAT GRANT AND LIMIT AUTHORITY The administrator’s authority may be derived from more than one source. There are a number of possible sources that may, formally or informally, grant an administrator the authority to act and that may also place formal or informal limitations on the administrator’s prerogatives to exercise authority. Authority once granted is not always permanent. The same superintendent who grants a certain type of authority can also take it away or restrict it in some manner. The same faculty members who, through their expectations, informally grant their principal the authority to take certain actions can change those expectations and remove their support. An administrator’s initial response should be to investigate policies, regulations, expectations, and conditions in the principal’s own school situation rather than assuming a certain pattern of limitations.
SOURCES THAT GRANT AND LIMIT AUTHORITY (cont) The norms of the other principals in a school district do constitute a potential source of limitation on a principal who wishes to exercise authority in a school, and therefore the importance of these norms need to be weighed. A school administrator should not be intimidated or immobilized by the possibility of constraints on existing authority. The wise administrator will make few assumptions about having the authority to act, carefully and objectively examining the situations to determine the limits and strengths of the various sources of authority. Formal authority only “promotes compliance with directives and discipline, but does not encourage employees to exert effort, to accept responsibilities, or to exercise initiative.
POSSIBLE SOURCES THAT GRANT AND LIMIT AUTHORITY School Teacher Expectations Student Expectations Past Practice Administrator’s Perceptions District School Board Policies Superiors’ Expectations Master Contract Job Description Principals’ Norms Community Parent Expectations Local Government Special Interest Groups Administrator Authority State Department of Education State Law State Court Decisions Accrediting Agencies Federal U.S. Laws Federal Rules and Regulations Federal Court Decisions Nationals Reports
FACTORS TO CONSIDER IN EXERCISING AUTHORITY The purpose of exercising authority should be to bring about desired responses from others. Simon has suggested characterization of the administrator’s exercise of authority can range from “clearly unacceptable” to “unquestionably acceptable,” with several degrees of variation in between. Research found that teachers were more likely to accept the directives of the principal when that person was perceived as strong in the leadership dimensions of both considerations and initiating structure. clearly unacceptable unquestionably acceptable
Negative Reactions Most administrators at one time or another will encounter unavoidable negative reactions when they attempt to exercise authority. Nine different types of negative responses Teachers may consciously question the order Inform the administrator of their views while complying with the order Discuss the situation with the administrator and try to work for change Attempt to gain support for their contrary views Go around their superior and try to gain the support of those above in the hierarchy Ignore, evade, or try to modify it while seeming to comply Ignore, evade, or try to modify while saying nothing Openly reject the order Transfer or resign Note: Subordinates are unlikely to reject openly the exercise of administrative authority or resign because of it, unless the authority has been exercised in an extremely arbitrary or capricious manner.
Responding To Negative Reactions To Authority When encountering a negative reaction, an administrator should first attempt to diagnose why it is occurring. Thoughtful administrators will quickly gain control over such tendencies and will try to avoid doing anything that might exacerbate the situation. Questioning or challenging authority is not necessarily bad and can be instructive if the causes are understood. Negative reaction to the exercise of authority may signal the inappropriate use or understanding of that authority.
Diagnosing The Problem Through Discussion Diagnose the causes of the reaction by first conferring with the parties involved. Effort should be made to avoid putting the other party on the defensive. Attempts should be made to understand the other person’s frame of reference before explaining the administrator’s own position.
Examining How Authority Was Exercised Boucher offers administrators the following suggestions for giving criticism: See yourself as helping someone improve. Express concern as you share ways for this individual to be more successful. Choose the right moment to offer criticism. Drop the word “should” from this conversation (“should” gives a rigid appearance.) Make a conscious effort to avoid appearing more interested in compliance than helping the person improve. Discuss the opportunity for growth and benefit from the suggestions you are making. Be specific. Be prepared.
Dealing With Insubordination Before judging whether authority was aptly exercised, the administrator may want to:
Consult with superiors.
Examine school board policies.
Examine the master contract.
Check other sources used as a basis for exercising authority.
If the original objective sought is still desirable and attainable, the administrator should insist on compliance. Allowing exercise of legitimate authority to be ignored, evaded, or rejected could weaken the authority base of an administrator and could lead to more widespread noncompliance. Keep written, dated documentation of the initial negative reaction and of all subsequent meetings, contacts, correspondence, and reactions.
Gaining Compliance From Resisters Confer with superiors to obtain their ideas and support of certain courses of action. Begin insisting on compliance. Insure that whoever is resisting or evading the directive fully understands the possible implications of such actions. Explicitly state expectations. Issue a written warning. Consult again with superiors and obtain legal guidance. Stronger negative sanctions may need to be used, including recommended disciplinary measures or even dismissal, if compliance cannot be obtained. Note: When people are reacting negatively to proper authority there must be compliance.
Guidelines for Exercising Authority Successfully Chester Barnard indicated, a person can and will accept authority when four conditions prevail: They understanding the order. They believe the order is consistent with purposes of the organization. When in the individual's own personal interest. When the individual is able to comply. Keep in mind the following guidelines in issuing directives or orders: Consider how it will affect the recipients personally. Consider the strengths and limitations of those who expected to implement a directive. Explain thoroughly the rationale and the relationship to the goals of the organization. Leave room for modification or implementation changes. Issue only those directives that will be obeyed or can be enforced if resisted. Some administrators and supervisors may be reluctant to exercise authority. If the administrator is to perform assigned responsibilities effectively and work with others in the achievement of goals, it may be necessary to utilize authority.
ADMINISTRATIVE POWER Some theorists use the terms authority and power interchangeably, these concepts differ in both functions and implications.
Authority is based first on the willingness of subordinates to comply.
Power represents the capacity or potential of effecting desired results in one or more persons that would not have otherwise occurred.
Administrators possess legitimate power if they can get people to do what the administrators want them to do, even when people resist or refuse to accept authority in a certain situation.
Types of Power What types of power are available to an administrator? Etzioni advanced the proposition that there are three general kinds of power: Coercive Power Remunerative Power Normative Power Parsons identified four types of power: Persuasion Inducement Activation of commitment Deterrence French and Raven suggested five types of social power: Reward power: Capacity to provide rewards, such as higher salary or better assignment. Coercive Power: Capacity to provide punishment or negative consequences, such as teacher dismissal. Legitimate power: Defined by French and Raven in a way very similar to the definition of Legitimate authority, discussed earlier. Referent Power: The tendency to be attracted by and to identify closely with the administrator, for example, the identification of teachers with the administrator. Expert power: Special knowledge or skill, for example, supervision, scheduling, or group dynamics. Paul Hersey expanded French and Raven’s five power types into seven: Connection power: The supervisor has relationships with influential people inside or outside the organization. Information power: The leader’s possession of or access to information is perceived as valuable to others.
Types of Power (cont.) Buhler stressed recognizing that power is not unilateral but is a generally shared and distributed.
Power also exists in terms of whom teachers are aligned with and the great loyalty they have for these individuals.
Most employees throughout an organization have the ability to make their boss look bad.
People tend to group together in order to achieve and sustain power, particularly in educational settings.
Power should be used, when possible, as a shared resource.
Power Sharing and Teacher Empowerment Power sharing encourages staff at all levels of the school to be involved in decision making without feeling coerced or manipulated. Teachers, resent principals who falsely see themselves as relying on personal power when in fact they use positional power such as reward, coercion, connection, and legitimate authority. Teachers will tend to devalue principals connections as part of a “Good old Boy” network. Accessibility is an important quality in effective leadership.
Empowering Teachers Giving teachers greater power offers opportunity to be more professional and to improve performance.
Through this relationship, principals become facilitators of school goals, empowering teachers and allowing them to generate and develop ideas.
As teachers become more empowered, they will learn to accept the burden of increased responsibility.
Blame should decline as empowerment increases.
Offering education and training are necessary for appropriate decision making development.
Moving decision making closer to the classroom requires school board support.
Accountability is a requirement of empowerment.
To achieve compliance, three perceptual conditions must be present: Others must perceive the administrator as having coercive power. People perceive this power as something they want to avoid. People perceive the administrator as willing to use coercive power to gain compliance. Coercive power is most effective when it is not used, but believed its use would be exercised if necessary. In many cases the administrator should first utilize other means, such as dependence upon personal power, for gaining compliance. Empowerment gives teachers a sense of ownership, raising their level of self-esteem, and increasing participatory decision making.
TYPES OF INFLUENCEInfluence, Power, and Authority Contrasted Influence, when compared to power, seems to be a more positive concept. Influence is the ability without actual recourse to force or affect another’s behavior. Influence is the shaping of decisions through informal non-authoritative means. It differs from authority in that: Many can influence a decision whereas only one person has final authority. Influence may be distributed unequally, whereas authority is usually distributed equally. Authority is top-down management, whereas influence is multidirectional. An administrator has influence if others can be persuaded to comply with the administrator’s expectations, despite their ambivalence or objections. It appears the concept of influence offers a positive and constructive alternative basis for many administrative actions. Successful implementation will be contingent upon the perception of the individual receiving the directive from the administrator.
Referent Influence The identification of other individuals or groups with the administrator is the basis for the referent influence of an administrator.
Administrators in business and government, as well as in education, have found it possible to secure the cooperation of others.
The identification by others with the administrator can be a powerful basis for influencing them if the administrator possesses the requisite personal characteristics.
Referent influence is determined by factors over which most administrators have little or no control.
If the administrator does not currently possess the kinds of personal characteristics with which people identify, the likelihood of developing them is not great.
It would be in the best interest of any administrator to improve personal qualities and leadership style so that greater referent influence can be exercised.
Reward Influence Reward influence is based on the administrator’s actual or perceived possession of certain rewards and may be distributed to those who comply. Reward Distribution Issues
Reward influence is limited for most administrators.
Educational administrators can seldom selectively reward their employees according to merit or increased productivity.
In education, preferential treatment seems to be regarded with suspicion, and students, teachers, and parents are alert to situations in which the administrator seems to be favoring one individual or group over another.
Only a limited number of monetary rewards are available for most administrators to utilize in influencing other people.
Administering the schedule, assigning additional duties, offering unallocated resources, and many other things are all valuable factors the administrator will use to get work done. The principal may award a free period, a favorite class, a double lunch period, an honors section, or support for a new activity.
Providing business cards, establishing relationships with local universities, providing a stipend for participating in a program, allowing the faculty, offering opportunities to network with businesses and industry during the workday.
Positive Reinforcement as a Reward
Praise for a job well done, a commendation for a significant effort to improve , or some other type of reward.
Positive reinforcement must be directly linked to the specific effort or performance that warrants the reinforcement.
Unless the reinforcement used is valued by its recipient, the behavior is unlikely to be influenced.
Hierarchical Influence as a Reward
May be manifested in a least two important ways:
by securing additional resources from the district for subordinates By being an effective advocate for subordinates in their interactions with the district office.
Expertise as a Basis of Influence The most important factor associated with teacher satisfaction and high evaluation of principal leadership was the principal’s tendency to base attempts to influence teachers on expertise rather than other sources of influence. While administrators can successfully influence teachers if the actions are based on expertise as a source of influence, there is evidence many administrators seem to lack expertise or are perceived by others as lacking expertise. Principals could increase their influence on teachers by learning more about teaching and by visiting classrooms. In Yukl’s view of influence, he suggest that eleven proactive tactics can be used for influence attempts with subordinates, peers, and superiors.
Yukl’s Classification of Proactive Influence Tactics Rational Persuasion The agent uses logical arguments The agent explains, will benefit the target personally. The agent appeals to the target’s values and ideals The agent asks the target person to express concerns and suggest improvements . The agent offers to provide relevant resources and assistance. Uses praise and flattery before or during an attempt to influence the target person to carry out a request or support a proposal Requests made out of friendship or loyalty. The agent offers an incentive. The agent seeks the aid of others to persuade. The agent seeks to establish the authority . The agent uses demands. Apprising Inspirational Appeals Consultation Collaboration Ingratiation Personal Appeals Exchange Coalition Tactics Legitimating Tactics Pressure