|A Note from Linda ...
Many executives, however, are uncomfortable with power or office politics, viewing them as the dark side of workplace behavior. They believe job satisfaction, morale and commitment erode when politics dominate the environment.
But research clearly shows that being politically savvy and building a power base pay off.
Sources of Power
There are three sources of power in an organization: positional, relational and personal:
Executives and managers who are open to peers' and subordinates' input garner greater respect than those who resist others' influence. An openness to influence demonstrates trust and respect, which become reciprocal and contagious.
You can offer goods and services to a potential ally in exchange for cooperation: technical assistance, information, lease of space or equipment, a plum assignment and the like. Understand what others want or value.
Jeffrey Pfeffer, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business and author of Power: Why Some People Have It—And Others Don’t, cites three barriers that cause executives to shy away from using power to extend their influence.
The Power of Power
When you need others to give their best efforts in the face of differing ideas and opinions, you need leverage — and powerful people use several strategies to advance their agendas.
1. Leverage Resources.
Whenever you have discretionary control over resources — money, equipment, space and/or information — you can use them to build a power base.
Helping people evokes reciprocity, a universal drive to want to repay a favor — even without making it explicit that there's a quid pro quo.
Money is not the sole source of leverage. Access to information or key people can be even more valuable.
2. Shape Behaviors with Rewards and Punishments.
In international companies and governments, leaders reward those who help them and punish those who stand in their way. You may disagree with this approach, but it remains an important tool for building a power base.
Leaders who effectively wield influence make it clear that subordinates will reap rewards if they help and problems if they refuse to pitch in.
3. Make the Vision Compelling.
It's easier to exercise power when you're aligned with a compelling, socially valuable objective. Similarly, power struggles inside companies seldom revolve around blatant self-interest. At the moment of crisis and decision, clever combatants typically invoke shareholders' interests, company values and mission, and causes greater than short-term or personal interests.
Persuasion has four elements:
1. Credibility: Credibility is built on trust and expertise, and it must be earned. People will believe you have expertise and are worthy of their trust if you exercise sound judgment and demonstrate a history of success.
2. An understanding of the audience: Identify the decision makers and centers of influence. Determine their likely receptivity and personal agendas.
3. A solid argument: What is perfectly sensible to you may elude others — especially those who are already opposed to your ideas and prepared to resist.
You can improve your chances of persuading them when your case:
4. Effective communication: Don't mistakenly think that logic and rationality will win out and persuade people to your side. Effective communication appeals to people's emotions, tapping into universal human values and desires. Appeal to both hearts and minds.
To become politically savvy and build your power base:
1. Map the political terrain. Identify all stakeholders and how they will react. Recognize that some resistance is inevitable.
2. Get them on your side. Build your coalition — a politically mobilized group committed to implementing your idea because doing so will generate valued benefits.
3. Make things happen through leverage. You must win others' buy-in by making it clear there's a payoff for supporting your efforts and drawbacks for refusing to join your coalition.
Whether you are jump-starting a business, advancing your career, an executive or president, Linda’s coaching expertise will provide you with the essential focus, skills and behaviors needed to perform, advance and lead in today’s business environment.
As well, Linda works closely with companies like yours focused on "high potential grooming and leadership performance enhancement" geared toward your top talent and next generation of leaders.
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