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Organizational Power: What is Power?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that: ‘life is a search after power’. If that is true, what is it we are searching for? We need to start our exploration of power in organizations by understanding what is power?

Watching this video is worth 1 Management Courses CPD Point*.
(See below for more details)

The Nature of Organizations
This video is part of course module number 6.1.3
Program 6: Managing within Organizations
Course 1: The Nature of Organizations
Section 3: Power in Organizations

Other videos in this section include:
Amitai Etzioni: How Organizations Secure Compliance https://youtu.be/4mSdeda8elk
Robin Fincham: Three Levels of Organizational Power https://youtu.be/Qcd_UcHGCe8
The Power of Governance https://youtu.be/QI4pGksO4Ns
French and Raven: Social Power Bases in Organizations https://youtu.be/wLtTu8B0aek
Empowerment: The Organization Giving up its Power https://youtu.be/B4-_u51mffk

Power is…
‘the ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something.’
In the workplace, it’s the ability to get others to do what you want them to do.

But there is something else in common usage: the ability to exert influence over people – and not merely by the strength of your arguments.
And for some people, gathering this kind of power to stand above your peers is a very desirable outcome. Take a look at our video – in our Motivation Course, on David McClelland’s three motivational needs: https://youtu.be/jxNhGE3gPcA

In the work context, we need to consider two types of power:
1. Organizational power – to compel compliance in their members, employees, or subjects
2. Individual power – to make things happen within their organizations

Sources of Power
In its simplest form, we’ll find that organizations have two sources of power:
1. the power to coerce
2. the power to reward
a. materially
b. in abstract, symbolic ways

And individuals also have two sources of power:
1. Power Granted by their organization
2. Power Earned by their own endeavors
a. Legitimately
b. By seizing power

Power Seized
It’s worth talking a little more about power seized here, because I shan’t be returning to it. The ‘strong man’ model of power sees the power player (more often than not, an actual man) seizing power.

But this is a matter of perspective. At the point of transfer, the prior holders of power (willingly or not) granted power. And, in the view of the new power-holder, I am fairly sure they believe they earned it. And, arguably, they did – even if the work was unsavory.

We can see that organizations and people can grant these levers over others willingly or unwillingly. If I give in to coercion or bribery, is that you taking power over me, or me ceding that power to you?

Consider your experiences of organizational life. What examples of power can you identify. How would you classify them and what are the sources of power in those examples? (3 MC CPD Points)

Free Resources
– CPD Tools – https://gum.co/MC-CPD
Paid resources
– Management Courses Onboarding Kit – https://gum.co/MC-ObK ($3)

– Understanding Organizations https://geni.us/oB774Do
– Images of Organization https://geni.us/hrOemEs
– Inside Organizations: 21 Ideas for Managers https://geni.us/YwwL
– Gods of Management: The Four Cultures of Leadership https://geni.us/bpPeC5

Managers Need a Basic set of kit to do your job well. Here are my top recommendations: https://kit.co/MikeClayton/manager-s-work-kit (the links are affiliated)

Management Courses Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Points
You can record your Management Courses CPD points on our free, downloadable CPD record log.
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Each video has two levels of MC CPD points. For this video:
– If you simply watched the video, record 1 MC CPD points
– If you also carried out all of the recommended exercises, score a total of 4 MC CPD points

Links to our book recommendations are affiliated through Amazon

#Management #ManagementCourses #Power


Kim Cameron: Positive Organizational Scholarship
Charles Handy: Philosopher of Organizations
Edgar Schein: The Master of Organizational Culture
Harold Geneen: Data-driven Charismatic Organization
Chester Barnard: Organizations as Networks of People
Max Weber: The Father of Organizational Theory
How we Work: Geert Hofstede’s 6 Cross-Organization Cultural Dimensions
National Culture within an Organization: Geert Hofstede’s 6 Cultural Dimensions
Quinn and Cameron: Competing Values Model of Organizational Culture
Edgar Schein’s 3 Levels of Organizational Culture
Cultural Web: Johnson & Scholes on Where Culture Originates
Introduction to Organizational Culture
Empowerment: The Organization Giving up its Power
French and Raven: Social Power Bases in Organizations
Power in Organizations: The Power of Governance
Robin Fincham: Three Levels of Organizational Power
Amitai Etzioni: How Organizations Secure Compliance
Virtual Organizations
Brian Robertson’s Holacracy Organizational Model
The Agile Organization
Adhocracy Organizational Model
Peter Senge’s Learning Organization
The Matrix Organization Model
Charles Handy’s Triple-I Company
Charles Handy’s Federal Organization Model
Charles Handy’s Shamrock Organization
Charles Handy’s Gods of Management
Henry Mintzberg’s 4 plus 2 Organizational Types
Edgar Schein’s Two Organizational Cultures
Why do we need Organizations? Structure vs Agility
The Features of Organizations: What an Organization Needs
Organizations as Processes: Understanding an Organization as a Set of Processes
Organizations as Structures: Understanding an Organization as a Structure
Morgan’s 8 Organizational Metaphors: An Organization is Like a…
What is an Organization? – the Nature of Organizations

Mike Clayton

About Mike Clayton 

Dr Mike Clayton is a (former) Project Manager and now a management educator. Having trained thousands of people at live workshops, seminars, and conferences, he now delivers training mainly via video. He has 14 books with international publishers and runs two successful YouTube channels. He is also the founder of OnlinePMCourses.com

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