POWER IN MANAGEMENT --- HOW TO UNDERSTAND, ACQUIRE, AND USE IT
by John P. Kotter. AMACOM, 1979



INTRODUCTION --- To minimize confusion, in this book the word "power" is used in this way:

    [1] "Power" is a measure of an individual's potential to get others to do what he or she wants them to do, as well as to avoid being forced by others to do what he or she does not want to do.

    [2] "Power-oriented behavior" refers to individual actions aimed primarily at acquiring or using power.

    [3] "Power dynamics" refers to interpersonal interactions that involve power-oriented behavior.

1) POWER --- the neglected aspect of management (p1-8)

    Managers regularly acquire and use power. They do so deliberately and consciously as well as intuitively and unconsciously. Power-oriented behavior has an impact on managerial career progress, on job performance, on organizational effectiveness, and on the personal lives of employees. It involves the combined topics of power, influence, authority, and organizational politics.

    There is a curious inconsistency between the relevance of power to management and the lack of serious discussion of the subject in management literature.

    To remedy this situation, the purpose of this book is to help managers and students of management gain a basic understanding of the acquisition and use of power in managerial jobs, since there is a critical need for skillfully executed power-oriented behavior and an understanding of the positive function such leadership behavior serves and how it can help organizations, their managers, and society at large. Therefore, this book is focused on answers to the following seven questions:

      [1] Exacly how do effective managers acquire power?

      [2] How do they use their power?

      [3] For what purposes do they use their power?

      [4] How important to success in management are skills at acquiring and using power?

      [5] What effect does power-oriented behavior have on organizational effectiveness?

      [6] What leads to the misuse of power by managers?

      [7] Specifically, how can an appreciation of "power dynamics" help managers to be more effective?

    For most people, the net result of both negative and positive attitudes toward power is an awkward ambivalence, since power fascinates and repulses them at the same time. Ambivalent attitudes toward power, together with the lack of useful information about power and management, breed both naive and cynical beliefs about what effective and successful managers do. These beliefs can be very costly in both career problems and organizational problems. (p4-5)

    Most managers would be both more effective and more successful if they had a better understanding of power dynamics. Power skills are not the only factors that are necessary for success in management, since intelligence, maturity, and hard work also are essential, but they are a crucial aspect of good leadership.

2) POWER DYNAMICS IN MANAGEMENT --- the basis for its emergence and importance (p9-24)

    The single key reason why power dynamics is an essential aspect of managerial effectiveness is the "dependence" in managerial jobs.

    [1] Dependence in managerial jobs (p10-12)

    [2] The vulnerability of dependence (p12-14)

    [3] Coping with dependence (p14-16)

    [4] The necessary emergence of "power dynamics" (p16-21)

    [5] Power needs and the degree of a manager's dependence (p21-24)

3) BASIC METHODS FOR ACQUIRING AND MAINTAINING POWER (p25-38)

    [1] Gaining control over tangible resources --- Acquiring power means acquiring "potential" influence, which is the potential for getting others to do what you want or for preventing them from forcing you to do something. (p25-27)

    [2] Obtaining information and contro of information channels (p27-28)

    [3] Establishing favorable relationships (p28-29)

      (1) Creating a sense of obligation (p29-30)

      (2) Building a good professional reputation (p30-31)

      (3) Encouraging identification (p31-32)

      (4) Creating perceived dependence (p32-34)

    [4] Keys to success at acquiring power (p34-37)

      (1) They tend to be very sensitive to where power exists in their organizations

      (2) To some degree, they use all the methods described in this chapter to develop power

      (3) They take calculated risks in which they "invest" some of their power in the hopes of gaining it back with interest

      (4) They recognize that all of their actions can affect their power and they avoid actions that will accidentally decrease it

      (5) In their career development they try to move both up the hierarchy and toward positions where they can control some strategic contingency for their organization

    Powerful managers gain and maintain really sizable amounts of power by moving into positions that control key contingencies for their organizations. They do so because they recognize that as long as their organization has to compete with others to get support from its environment, those who can manage the most problematic environmental contingencies are really the most important people in the organization. Everyone in an organization, must depend on a powerful manager, and that situation gives him or her a great deal of power!

    A summary of the "acquisition of power" by a manager:

      The manager's power comes from the combination of (1) interpersonal and analytical skills, knowledge, and energy level and (2) the degree to which the manager controls important resources, such as [1] tangible resources, information and information channels; [2] and has favorable relationships based on a sense of obligation, a strong professional reputation, identification of others with the manager, and his or her perceived dependence. (p37)

4) BASIC METHODS FOR USING POWER TO INFLUENCE OTHERS --- Effective managers use power to influence others. (p39-52)

    The focus is on how influential managers actually DO behave, not on how we think they SHOULD behave (p39)

    [1] Direct influence (p42-46)

    [2] Indirect influence (p46-49)

    [3] Using influence methods successfully (p49-51)

      (1) They are sensitive to what others consider to be legitimate behavior in using power (p49-50)

      (2) They have a good intuitive understanding of the various ways to use power (p50)

      (3) They tend to use all the legitimate influence methods presented earlier (p50)

      (4) They use all these methods to help them manage upward, downward, and laterally. The complex situation managers often find themselves in includes not only relationships with subordinates but dependent relations with superios and peers --- both inside and outside the organization. Efective managers use their power to manage all these relationships. They do not just manage their subordinates --- they manage their bosses, their organizational peers, and outsiders too! Effective managers seem to recognize the importance of using power to manage upward and laterally as well as the traditional downward relationship. (p50-51)

5) SITUATIONAL DIFFERENCES IN ACQUIRING AND USING POWER (p53-66)

    [1] Power-oriented behavior and job-related dependence --- two major patterns or principles: (p53-61)

      (1) The greater the amount of job-related dependence, the more time and energy the manager tends to put into power-oriented behavior in order to cope with that dependence! (p56)

      (2) As job-related dependence increases, the relative frequency with which managers engage in the more "negative" and riskier forms of power-oriented behavior tends to increase as well! (p57)

      In response to job-related dependence, managers tend to rely on the more "positive" and less risky methods of gaining power as much as possible, while relying on the other methods only when necessary. When job-related dependence is reasonably low, a manager can successfully cope with that dependence without having to resort very much to coercion, manipulation, and the like. But as job-related dependence increases, the more acceptable methods seem generally to be less able by themselves to cope with what can be a terribly complex, demanding, and difficult situation. (p60)

      The relationship of power-oriented behavior to job-related dependence is terribly important because many managers do not seem to be aware of how much the amount and type of power-oriented behavior need to vary in different settings. And that lack of understanding can create serious career problems for them, especially when they accept a new job or a promotion into a position that seems similar to previous jobs but that has significantly more job-related dependence!

    [2] Variation in job-related dependence --- Variation is the critical situational variable that links power-oriented behavior and managerial career success (p61-66)

      The pattern of dependence inherent in managerial jobs varies within an organization and across organizations in reasonably predictable ways. Many factors seem to be closely related to that variation:

      (1) Within an organization --- The amount of dependence in jobs tends to be related closely to four factors: (p61-62)

        1. Job responsibilities --- The more responsibilities inherent in the job, the more the incumbent is forced to rely on others to perform tasks and cooperate, and thus the greater the dependence.

        2. Direct and indirect reports --- The more people who report directly and indirectly to a managerial positioin, and the greater the difficulty of replacing those people or doing their jobs, the greater the position-related dependence.

        3. Self-containment --- The less a managerial job is designed to focus on self-contained tasks, the more the job is interdependent with other jobs and departments, and thus the greater the job-related dependence.

        4. Bosses --- The more higher-level positions that have some authority over a managerial job, the greater the dependence in that job.

        Because of factors 1 and 2, as one moves up the management hierarchy dependence tends to increase.

        Because of factors 1 and 2, line managerial jobs tend to have more dependence associated with them than staff jobs. Unlike a staff manager, a line manager often has bottom-line responsibilities which make him dependent on many others.

      (2) Across organizations --- Job-related dependence can also vary a great deal between similar positions in different organizations. The following factors relate to the average amount of dependence in all managerial jobs in an organization: (p62-66)

        1. Organizational size

        2. Environmental dependences

        3. Environmental uncertainty

        4. Organizational goals

        5.Resource scarcity

        6. Technology

        7. Physical proximity of operations

        8. Formal structure

        9. Performance measure --- The more an organization 's measurement systems clearly and unquestionably measure the individual performance of managers, the less those managers will be dependent on others for their pay and promotions.

        10. Reward systems --- The more the formal reward system rewards group rather than individual effort, the more dependence will surface in managerial jobs!

        Because of factors 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 9 and 10, managers in public organizations tend to be more dependent than managers in private organizations.

        Because of factors 2, 3, 6, 8, and 9, managers in more complex industries tend to be in a more dependent position than managers in less complex industries.

        These factors provide an important understanding of job-related dependence. This new understanding helps one to predict, without having to do a detailed analysis of specific jobs, how much power-oriented behavior managers in different settings will probably engage in.

        In addition, an understanding of these factors can help you see why two seemingly identical jobs can be very different.

      (3) Other contingencies --- the most important factor associated with situational differences in how managers acquire and use power is job-related dependence! But it is not the only contingency, since a number of other factors are also relevant, such as the manager's style, the type of people upon whom the manager is dependent, the kind of resources available in the organization, and the climate or tone set by top management. The way in which these additional factors affect power-oreinted behavior is fairly obvious. For example, if a manager is surrounded by highly educated people who respect knowledge and expertise, he or she will probably rely heavily on his or her professional reputation and on persuasion. (p66)

      Perhaps the most important of these other factors is the manager's bosses. They can directly influence power-oriented behavior by rewarding or punishing certain actions. They can indirectly affect such behavior by manipulating factors that shape job-related dependence. Their actions in this regard can help managers and their organizations be more effective, or their actions can create serious problems. (p66)

6) THE MISUSE OF POWER (p67-80)


    [1] Examples of the misuse of power (p68-70)

    [2] Personal integrity (p70-71)

    [3] Mismatch between job dependence and power skills (p71-75)

    [4] The critical impact of top management (p75-76)

    [5] Impossible situations --- Some organizations score highly on all the factors associated with a high level of dependence in managerial jobs. In these organizations, the dependence in the top jobs can be extremely high --- quite possibly too large for any individual to handle without esorting to power misuse. In these situations, one typically finds a top manager who is not really in control of the organization. Political behavior and power misuse occur throughout the organization. Little coordinated planning is done. As a result of all these factors, the organization performs poorly. (p76-79)

Integrity is an important factor that links power-oriented behavior and organizational effectiveness. But two other factors are equally important. The first factor is job-related dependence and the second is power skills and abilities.

Whenever a significant gap exists between the dependence inherent in a managerial job and the power skills of the job incumbent, some organizational ineffectiveness seems to be inevitable. In some instances, the ineffectiveness seems to be inevitable. In some instances, the ineffectiveness results without power misuse. The incumbent is simply not able to manage the job dependence, and therefore does not accomplish his job-related objectives and is not effective in his job. Thus the manager does not contribute to organizational effectiveness.

A number of factors often help create situations in which a significant gap develops between a manager's power skills and his or her dependence.

The negative consequences of a large gap between job dependence and power skills usually become more significant as one goes up the hierarchy in an organization. Such a gap typically creates similar gaps in lower-level jobs in the same reporting hierarchy. Thus the burden for creating organizational effectiveness and minimizing power misuse falls heavily on top managers --- perhaps too heavily at times for even the most talented people!

7) POWER-ORIENTED BEHAVIOR AND SUCCESS IN MANAGERIAL CAREERS (p97-102)

    [1] Typical career problems (p82-89)

    [2] Overcoming and avoiding career problems (p89-95)

8) SOME CAREER RECOMMENDATIONS --- Power in management is a complex topic that does not reduce easily to simple "how to" prescriptions. Nevertheless, it would be in the best interest of most managers to follow these six guidelines: (p97-101)

    [1] Identify your own power skills and abilities (p97-98)

    [2] Explicitly take into account power and dependence when planning your caeer or seeking a job (p98-99)

    [3] Before starting a new job, carefully consider what sequence of activities can help you develop the power you will need (p99-100)

    [4] If yo are less effective at your current job han you desire, check to see if it is a power/dependence problem. (p100)

    [5] If you find yourself in a job whose dependencies are significantly greater than your power skills and you are unable to change the situation without misusing power, GET OUT! (p100-101)

    [6] Whenever you have the opportunity, try to influence educators and management develoment personnel to focus more on power and influence. (p101)

INDEX (p103-105)


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