Power is about achieving influence over others. In order to understand organizations and why certain decisions are made, it’s important to understand the power of those who are considered to be at the top and seem to have the ultimate decision-making influence. There is a strong connection between power and politics. Politics is not just about candidates vying for your votes in the government political arena. Politics is part of our everyday work world.
There are two sources of power, position power and personal power. Position power is derived from top management and is delegated down the chain of command. Person power is derived from followers, based on the leader’s behavior. Politics is the process of gaining and using power. No matter where we are in our work situation, we can learn to understand the power of politics and gain skills to use that power to advance a career.
There are also two types of workplace politics: positive and negative. Positive power in an organization encourages productivity and motivates employees by giving decision-making power, rewarding and recognizing performance. Employees are happier and more productive when they have the power to express ideas and concerns. A climate in the workplace that is focused on collaboration and equal treatment can prevent or mitigate conflict. Organizations and those in positions of power and influence that develop climates of negativity and conflict can develop a climate of dishonest and unethical behavior. When leaders don’t have the respect of those under them, they have negative power. Negative power motivates employees with threats of job loss and or show favoritism to certain employees, but does not recognize hard work of others. In order to develop positive power and politics, it’s necessary to have clear policies and specified chains of command and accountability. We can look at our own work place environment and evaluate those who are in power and how they implement the combination of power and politics and analyze if they are successful.
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