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Politics and Power

Politics and Power

Within many organizations there are many aspects that contribute to the successes and failures that they endure. The aspects of power and politics play a significant role to how an organization performs. With power and politics, organizations can accomplish many tasks and goals through proper delegation. Without it many of those tasks become undone which could further cause harm to the future of the organization.

According to Malott, “power is the ability to control the operant behavior of others through the manipulation of behavioral contingencies; thus, to be powerful, one must have access to effective behavioral consequences and the skills to use them in an appropriately contingent manner” (Malott, 2008). When speaking of power and politics in organizations, many people think of it as negative terms. People think of it as someone in a higher position abusing their right to delegate work to those working under their authority. Power and politics usually always exist in organizations all over the world. If used in the correct manner, power and politics can be very healthy and effective tools in successfully managing personnel.

However, power can be abused in a negative way that could be very detrimental to an organization. There are many individuals in power positions who abuse their authority to those who work under them which could negatively affect the performance of employees and bring down the morale of everyone involved. The goal for a person in power is to motivate and encourage those who work for you to create an acceptable work environment while adding to the success of an organization.

There are various avenues that contribute to whether an organization fails or succeeds. There is one main common thread for those in authority and that is to have people skills. No matter what the capacity of the job may be, people in authority must possess the ability to communicate effectively with the individuals they are managing. By the term people skills communication is not the only idea that is involved. People skills involve much more than what the surface presents. It involves for a manager to not only communicate, but to be empathetic with their employees and to understand their point of view or to see things from their perspective. Family life, goals, aspirations, etc are all aspects that people in authority should take into consideration when dealing with employees. According to Love “Leaders must work to create warm, supportive, and stable relationships. When relationships are strong, constructive criticism and accountability can be seen as a means to learn and grow rather than as critical and demeaning remarks” (Love, 2005).

Another real world example of power and politics could be that of Ernest Koroma. He has the ultimate power in being the President of Sierra Leone and received that power through gaining the trust and admiration of the Sierra Leone people which would be considered as the political avenue. With his words and promises he effectively showed why he could play an effective leadership role to the nation. Ernest is everything that power and politics is about, he has shown to be a strong leader and has given hope to the Sierra Leone people when they felt as though hope is non-existent.

With power and politics there are many things to consider. What matters most is that you positively use these tools to effectively lead individuals to a point to where they have trust and faith in the person that is leading them. These areas of creating a positive and productive work environment are vital keys to bringing long lasting success to any organization that is willing to such implementation.

Power and Politics can be motivators in both a positive and negative manner. Wideman, 2003, states that power is the ability to persuade others to do the following; get them to do what you want them to do, when to do it, and in the manner you want them to do it. Wideman also maintains that influence is the exercise of authority or leadership, to persuade others, and organize them to follow. The struggle of power and influence by competing groups creates politics. Some believe that the practice of politics can be cunning and deceitful, while others believe it can be a motivator with positive results.

On a positive side of power and politics organizations have also been found to be responsible and able to promote trust. Take Johnson & Johnson for example, when Tylenol was tampered with leaving several people ill, they did not listen to their lawyers who were trying to prevent lawsuits, they admitted there was a problem and pulled all products from off the shelves. They did not hide behind the organization shirttails of attorneys; they faced up and proved to society to be trust worthy. Which in turn, they gained respect from the general public. I hope and pray that our leaders would copy and follow this type of leadership.

Conclusion, there are many aspects of an organization, both internal and external, that will affect their success. Some of these are out of their control, but quite a few can be controlled within the organization. Organizations must insure decisions are not based on personal agendas or outside influences offering certain perks for contracts. Power and organization politics can have both a negative or positive effect on an organization. Through all the decisions an organization will make, they must insure they do not compromise their code of conduct, code of ethics, or decrease employee morale.

Nanette Thomas President APC Texas Chapter

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