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Power and Influence Essay Sample

Power and Influence Pages
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If the population decided collectively that they did not want to obey the laws of a country, there is little that the police or the government could do about it. Why, then do people generally do what the government wants and, within the working situation, why do people do what their line manager wants, most of the time?

The consequences of refusing may be the most obvious reason. However, most requests, by a line manager, are not “sacking” offences and most people do not comply with the requests on the basis of fear of the punishment, if they do not.

The same applies to the role of Coding Specialist / Trainer while some of what you suggest will be a legal or organisational requirement most things will not.

For most people complying with the requests of a manager or other person with power in an organisation has two primary aspects to it. Firstly, there is the concern about the consequences of not doing as asked. The organisation you work for pays your wages. As a result, most people give their time and effort to the job in repayment. In addition, however, a manager or other person is often in a position to reward them with even more than their pay. This ability to reward takes many forms, from praise and recognition, to the opportunities for advancement and promotion. Furthermore, there is often an interpersonal element to the relationship. The person may do as asked because their relationship is good or they want it to be that way.

This two-pronged approach to management or leadership is sometimes referred to as ‘power and influence’ with power, being the exercise of the more negative aspects and influence being on the positive and encouraging side They are both present in the relationship between anyone in a management or leadership position and the person who works for them or is responsible to them.

The easiest way to examine the concepts is through your own experience.

Practical Exercise: Power

Identify the people who have exercised power in your life. That is those people who have been able to force you to do things against your will.

Describe how those people exercised their power?

What was the source of their power?

SOURCES OF POWER

For some with power, the source is clear, their ability to remove your livelihood is an obvious source of power, as is the fact that they are bigger or stronger than you. For others, the power source is not as clear. You feel you have to do as you are told but there is no obvious penalty for not doing so. It may be helpful to think of power as coming from a number of sources, as follows:

Traditional Power
This is the power exercised by, for example, a member of government, religious leaders or other ruling class. We listen to them because of who they are and because of the traditional loyalty and respect we have for the position. We also obey because they expect us to.

Anyone in a position which traditionally commands respect and obedience can have this power. Managers (and Coding Specialists / Trainers) have this type of power, and in some organisations once, you assume the title “manager” you will automatically be accorded that respect. Hopefully the same will apply to those with the job title, Coding Specialist / Trainer

In addition the Coding Specialist / Trainer will have the power of the law on his / her side.

Power Arising from Knowledge, Ability and Skill
A doctor has authority arising from his / her position which is, partly traditional, but also because of the access he / she has to a body of knowledge or skill.

Many jobs have this, in the circumstances particular to their area of knowledge, but not beyond that. With some jobs, such as that of doctor, the respect and power can extend into other areas. Most people would listen to a car mechanic giving advice about cars but would find him / her less credible on education or health matters.

A further aspect of this relates to someone who is particularly good at his / her job. In many cases, a manager is given that position because he / she is the best at doing the work of the department that he / she manages. Some of their power comes from that.

A Coding Specialist / Trainer is more likely to have power of this type if he / she has an in depth knowledge of Coding and is also knowledgeable about the organisation and how it operates. He / she will also have some power if he / she is seen as being able to help and / or support

Power from Fear
The ability of one person to inflict pain, or other undesirable consequences, on another will give that person power. Often this is based on a threat, or a vague possibility, rather than that the person has actually done anything. Most power in most situations has some element of this in it.

Sometimes fear of not obeying, comes not from what the person might do, but rather from the fear of the consequences of the person withdrawing their protection in other words, a fear of others

Fear of the consequences of not following the Coding Specialist’s / Trainer’s advice may be useful when trying to argue for a change which is not popular

Power seldom comes from just one of these sources. Most people with power have a mixture of all three. As a Coding Specialist / Trainer, what are the sources of your power?

Power versus Influence

An examination of the more positive aspects of getting people to do what you want covers some of the same ground as power. The difference between the two is, in the manner in which your wishes are carried out and in the motivation of the other person. Stated simply, enthusiasm is much more likely from the person being influenced than it is from the person being made to do something.

While it would be nice to always be able to influence in a positive way, the realities of normal working life tend to mean that the Coding Specialist / Trainer, from time to time, will have to take unpopular decisions. In addition, not every employee will be able to be motivated in the ways suggested but the job will still have to be done. This is not a licence to ignore the positive approach, however.

PRACTICAL EXERCISE : INFLUENCE

Identify a person who has influenced you, preferably, in your working life (no names needed). If you choose someone from outside work, the exercise is more likely to be successful if you do not choose your spouse or partner. The person may still work with you or be a previous colleague or manager. Your first line manager or a school teacher, are common choices.

Consider your relationship:

Think of examples of things this person said or did that influenced you? In particular, if this person helped to develop an enthusiasm or interest or a set of values or standards that you may not have had otherwise

How did this person influence you?

How has their behaviour been different from others, who were in a similar position to influence, but did not?

Describe, briefly, your own behaviour with this person?

From the above summarise the skills of influencing:

Skills of Influencing
The following are some of the key skills:

Trust

Mutual Respect

Knowledge

Credibility

Good Personal Relationship

Clear Instructions

Constructive Feedback

Timing (knowing when to speak and when to stay silent)

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