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See this video on power – “Why some people have power and others don’t” presented by Professor Pfeffer.
Steve posts in video: How does true leadership relate to the accumulation of personal and organizational power? A reaction to the writings of Jeffrey Pfeffer on the subject, in preparation for a Twitter chat (#LeadershipChat)
In the video, Steve quoted Professor Pfeffer’s assertion that:
“The notion of a non-hierarchical workplace is nonsense. What you need to succeed in the workplace is above all, power. He goes on to talk about the need to cultivate those who are in power above you, so you can move forward in the organization.
There are certain valid points made by Professor Pfeffer, Steve says:
- The need to network with influencers in the organization
- Ask for help
- Seek to be in high visibility positions
- Essentially play the game of moving up the ladder in the hierarchy
There are 2 questions posted by Steve.
1. Is it necessarily leadership, when you attain a position of power and influence through these means? Is this a display of genuine ability to create value and empower others and break new ground and make the pie bigger? Or does it mean that you are simply very good at navigating through zero-sum game and beating others up to the top?
My response to Q1:
The leadership practiced with the mere holding of power may be based on individual achievement, rather than collaborative achievement. So I wonder if such leadership practice would really help and support others in organisation in developing and growing into “truly ethical” leaders with a goodwill for the team and organisation in mind. In the long run, such culture of competing in order to beat the colleagues and others to get to the top would likely set up a “role modelling” of getting power by whatever means, in order to succeed. Is this the best way to develop personally and add value to the organization, through this means?
2. Is the giving of our energy, time and attention to this game really the best use of our leadership ability? Do we really want to give ourselves to the building up of these types of hierarchical organizations? Or do we want to give all of our skills, our will, our characteristics, traits and abilities to building bigger pies that enable other people may be in non-hierarchical organizations.
My response to Q2:
I think we need to reflect on the significance of giving our energy, time and attention at work, and how that would relate to our achievement of personal goals and organisational goals. Leadership is a means to an end, rather than an end by itself. Our question could be: To what extent would a hierarchical organisation, especially in this time of flux, be responsive to the changing needs of our customers and stakeholders? The sort of leadership styles and culture for an organization would likely be context driven, but should be aimed to provide values to the organisation, the leaders and those working within the organisation. The building of bigger pies would likely benefit the organisation in the long run, as more people are empowered to make decision and respond to the customers needs and satisfying the customers.
There are however, many assumptions behind this building of bigger pies, as there are implications when people are still trying to compete and beat others in order to get promoted.
“Let’s discuss this role of personal and corporate power and how it relates to true leadership.” Steve says.
In a hierarchical organisation, it is undeniable that power and leadership is positively correlated and in most cases, the top leader would have the most power.
It seems to me that such power game has evolved throughout history, and I don’t think there would be any significant changes in the case of a typical hierarchical organisation in the near future.
The question is: When an “organization” is re-structured in a networked organisational structure, where social networking and learning networks are fused into the system, would this power game work?
Is empowerment a reality, or a rhetoric or Utopian concept when it comes to power in leadership?
How does power and leadership play out in networks?