Power Strategy for Middle Managers

5528 Words23 Pages
Oxford University Centre of the Study of Values in Education

Volume X: The Fate of Empires: Education in a Consilient World

Reprint: Chapter 6


David P. Boyd

Northeastern University


Timm L. Kainen

University of Massachusetts Lowell

Copyright 2005: Global Scholarly Publications. All rights reserved.


David P. Boyd & Timm L. Kainen


Power is a difficult concept for many individuals in western democratic
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Power is not without its temptations. At one time or another many of us have harbored a secret fantasy to “club that lethargic laggard between the eyes so he will understand what needs to get done.” Some upper level managers with a reservoir of power could actually do so. History and literature, including management literature, are replete with notorious examples of power abuse and the disasters that emanated from them. If managers lack this historical perspective, or an engrained sense of ethics, they must hope that at least the rudder of their own temperament will guide them successfully. Without any of these supports, a myopic mindset may impel them to use their power in destructive ways, eventually dissipating it.

Other top-level managers can shoulder burdens and deliver results in more subtle fashion. They have learned that power abuse can curtail effectiveness. They know the downside risks of unilateral imposition and have acquired the expertise, experience and empathy to avoid these pitfalls. Experience can instill appreciation for unintended consequences, and training can imbue ethical precepts. Many scholars attribute the long-term durability of organizations, and even whole societies, to successful managerial preparation for power deployment. When they wield power well, users of power usually garner the nimbus of leadership.


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