Decent Essays
EXERCISE FOR GAINING POWER (Total time 15 minutes)
Rosabeth Kanter (1979) argues that much of what is labeled “poor management” in organizations is simply individuals protecting their diminished power bases. Instead of criticizing these managers as incompetent, she proposes we bolster their feelings of personal power. If we solve the real problem of perceived lack of power, the undesirable symptoms of poor leadership often evaporate. This point of view is consistent with the principles discussed in this chapter.

In this exercise, you are asked to give advice to individuals who feel powerless. For each of the situations below, form groups to explore opportunities for enhancing the power base of these three individuals.
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She lost her penchant for informality and became increasingly rigid in following standard operating procedures. Predictably, her subordinates were becoming more resentful and less productive. Situation 2: Staff Professional
Shawn Quinn came to the organization a year ago as a staff professional. He believed it might be a way for him to achieve considerable visibility with the top brass, but instead he felt isolated and forgotten. As a staff officer, he had almost no decision-making authority except in his narrow area of expertise. Most of what went on in the organization occurred without his involvement. Innovation and entrepreneurial activity were completely out of his realm. While some of the line officers were given opportunities for professional development, no one seemed to care about his becoming more experienced and capable. They saw him only as a specialist. Because his job didn’t require that he work with others, he had little opportunity to cultivate relationships that might lead to contacts with someone near the top. What hurt was that a consultant had been hired a few times to work on projects that were part of his area. If consultants could be brought in to do his work, he thought, he must not be very important to the organization. Shawn found himself being more and more turf conscious. He didn’t want others encroaching on his area of expertise. He tried to demonstrate his competence to others, but the more he did so,
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