Influence involves ability to alter other people in general ways by changing their satisfaction and performance.
Influence is more closely associated with leadership than power is but both are involved in leadership process.
Authority is different from power because of its legitimacy and acceptance.
Because power is not well understood, it is often extremely subtle or obscure, springs from multiple sources, is highly dynamic, has multiple causes and effects, is multidimensional and difficult to quantify.
In understanding organizational behaviour, power’s link to organizational politics needs to be understood.
This power comes from desire on part of other person to identify with agent wielding power.
Others grant this power because he is attractive and has desirable resources or personal characteristics, e.g., advertisers use celebrities, movie stars, sports figures the buying public identifies with. Timing is an interesting aspect of this.
In organizational context, managers with referent power must be attractive to subordinates.
In relation to management of people at work and relating to employee satisfaction and performance, following are important:-
Expert power is closely related to a climate of trust and manager’s influence is internalised by subordinate and he has attitude conformity. Expert power is fairly impersonal and concerned with task performance.
Legitimate power can be dependent on initially but continued reliance may create problems as follows:-
It can aggravate feelings of powerlessness and create dissatisfaction, resistance and frustration among employees.
If not conjoined with knowledge power, there may be ineffective utilization of human resources with negative effect of productivity.
May be inconsistent with work-life values of meaningful involvement and participation in organizational affairs.
Dependence on it leads to only minimum compliance and simultaneously increases resistance.
Referent power is emotional in nature and leads to unquestioning, enthusiastic trust, compliance, loyalty and commitment from subordinates. It could lead to highly personal, selfish gains and to manipulation of subordinates.
Reward power influences the performance behaviour of employees and reinforcement. Limitations of this power are:-
Tangible rewards such as pay and promotions are in short supply.
They have short run impact.
Rewards may not be valued by employees
Use of rewards can lead to dependent relationship and subordinates feel manipulated and become dissatisfied.
Coercive power, though it results in temporary compliance by subordinates, it produces side-effects like frustration, fear, revenge and alienation. In turn may lead to poor performance, dissatisfaction and turnover.
Goals- the more ambiguous and complex the goals become, the more politics there will be.
Technology and External environment- more complex the internal technology of the organization, the more politics there will be. Same is also true of organizations operating in turbulent external environment.
Change- planned organizational development effort or a reorganization or even an unplanned change brought about by external forces will encourage political manoeuvring.
Some organizations and sub units within organization will be more political than others.
Most organizations today are more political. They have very limited resources; make ambiguous, uncertain decisions; have very unclear yet complex goals; have increasingly complex technology; and are undergoing drastic change.
Such organizations face more politics and power game becomes increasingly important.
Conditions that threaten the status of the powerful or encourage efforts of those wishing to increase their power base will stimulate intensity of organizational politics and increase proportion of decision making behaviours that are as political as opposed to rational.
Maintain alliances with powerful people: the formation of coalitions is critical to acquisition of power in an orgn. An obvious coalition would be with members of upper level management. Not so obvious but equally important would be formation of alliance with boss’ secretary or staff assistant, that is, someone close to the powerful person.
Embrace or Demolish: Machiavellian principles can be applied as strategies in power game in organization.
Divide and Rule: this political and military strategy can also apply to acquisition of power in organizations.
Manipulate classified information: the importance of obtaining and disseminating information is immense. The politically astute organization member carefully controls this information in order to gain power.
Make a quick showing: this strategy involves looking good on some project or task right away in order to get the right peoples’ attention. Once this positive attention is gained, power is acquired to do other usually more difficult and long-range projects.
Collect and use IOUs: power seeker should do other people favours but should make it clear that they owe something in return and will be expected to pay up when asked.
Avoid decisive engagement (Fabianism): this is a strategy of going slow and easy- by not ‘ruffling feathers’ power seekers can slowly but surely become entrenched and gain cooperation and trust of others.
Progress one step at a time: this strategy involves taking one step at a time instead of trying to push a whole major project or reorganization attempt. One small change can be a foothold that power seeker can use as a basis to get other, more major things accomplished.
Wait for a crisis: this strategy uses reverse of ‘no news is good news’; that is, bad news gets attention.
Take counsel with caution: this is concerned with how to keep power than with how to acquire it. The manager should avoid opening the gates for shared decision making with subordinates which may erode the power of manager.
The ethical concern for power and politics in organizations goes beyond the notions of success or effectiveness.
Though respect for justice and human rights should prevail when it concerns ethics in organizational politics, modern complex organizations tend to create a climate which promotes power seeking and political manoeuvring and that’s the organizational reality today.