POWER – 4 Types of BIZ Politics (Part 1)


PREVIOUS : Bargains with FATE, #2




INTRO : Most organizational maps ➡️ are include 4 metaphoric domains,(conceptual frameworks), ⬇️ each with a different set of rules required for skillful navigation.

DEF: Organizational politics refers to a variety of activities connected to the tactics used to influence or improve personal or organizational (org) interests. Political behavior allows differences to be shared & methods to be used in strategies that go beyond the rules / norms of the company.

Studies have shown that leaders with political skills tend to out-perform their politically naive counterparts.

🌵 The WEEDS – Individual, Informal
This quadrant is governed by personal influence & informal networks, a dynamic** that grows naturally, without maintenance, & can be a positive benefit to the org.
**dynamics : forces which produce power or movement

Alternatively, the Weeds may form into a dense mat through which nothing else grows. Informal networks can oppose legitimate power & the long-term interests of the co. Such leaders become a source of resistance to change, which influences their colleagues & peers
to do the same. This can prevent putting the org. on a sounder long-term financial footing.

EXP: At one not-for-profit org., their Secretary General was seriously under-performing & sometimes even being unethical. This causing staff to worry they’d lose support of key donors & government officials.
So, an informal group regularly met to cover up his abuses. However, since the problem was too big, within a year the same group helped ease him out, to protect the org’s reputation.

To deal with the Weeds, a leader needs to get involved enough in day-to-day office milieu to understand the informal networks at play. They must identify the key players & any gaps in communication, & possibly ally themselves with them when reasonable.
If the power-group is doing more harm than good, the leader can try to isolate them by developing a counter-narrative**, or by filling in the information gaps & strengthen connections with other networks. (More….)
** counter-narrative is an argument that disputes a commonly held belief or truth, & can give a voice to workers in an org. who otherwise would not have one.

Options for progress:
a. Sometimes a manager or leader needs to exert a lot of pressure on a team to get something done, by using their ‘Positional Power‘.
b. In other cases it may be necessary for employees to form a coalition that works behind the scenes to develop a new procedure or vision.

🪨 The ROCKS – Individual, Formal
This type of Power rests on individual interactions & the use of formal (‘hard’) authority. It can also include political capital which comes from membership in -or- strong ties to a high-status group (finance committee, a special task force, senior management….)

Supportive ‘Rocks’ can make awesome sponsors for organizational growth, & therefore represent a stabilizing force that keeps a business on a strong foundation in times of crisis.

However, the sharp edges of ‘hard power’ can also wreck a plan – when used to satisfy self-interest over the firm’s longer-term value.
EXP: A mid-sized advertising agency was trying to implementing a new growth strategy. The chairman used abusive power to stop the changes.
— He constantly questioned decisions agreed to by the management team
— changed his mind from one meeting to the next
— stoped agreeing to allocate resources for new structures, &
— removed people from the special task forces without notification.

Where hard or formal sources of authority reign, navigating this terrain consists of appealing to them or drawing on their position as boss / manager, instead of fighting them.
The best bet is to redirect the energy of a dysfunctional leader, inviting the Negative Rocks to participate in the change effort.Reasoned argument & especially appealing to their interests can work – since someone is involved in the change-effort, they’re more likely to buy into it, rather than resist.
EXP:  In the case of the ad agency mentioned above, senior executives used the threat of “leaving a legacy” to get the chairman to see how he was undermining the company’s long-term interests as well as his own.

NEXT : 4 Types of BIZ Politics (#2)

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