Enhancing your Managerial Power at the Workplace

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Home > Articles > Enhancing your Managerial Power at the Workplace

 Enhancing your Managerial Power at the Workplace

Tan Chee Teik | General
December 15, 2017

Managers who are well-respected by their colleagues and outside contacts have built up their managerial power over time. With support from those above and below them, they are likely to survive in the company for a long time.

If you want to remain in the company for a long time and enjoy being acknowledged by others as an effective manager, you have to successfully build and maintain both position and personal power. Such power will allow the manager to influence both subordinates and bosses in three dimensions—downward, horizontally, and upward.

Legitimate power is where a person in a higher position has control over those in a lower position in an organisation. Position power is based on the legitimacy of a manager’s location in the organisational hierarchy of authority. It answers the question: where is your pecking order?

Personal power does not depend on your position in the hierarchy but on the person himself/herself. Managers can develop expert power based on highly valued knowledge and skills and associate power based upon the manager’s contacts with important people who can lend a hand when needed.

Others will think of you as the first resource centre if they respect your knowledge and analysis of what is happening. Through your networking, you should amass much information that is useful to your contacts and colleagues.

Over the years you would have accumulated skills and experience not found in textbooks or in the Internet. Take time to build up your personal brand so that people will respect you and take a liking to you. Included in your personal branding would be your smart dressing. People will always associate you with that positive style you carry with you, never giving them a chance to see you dressing sloppily.

This brings to mind more than one of my former colleagues who have a favourite neck tie that they wear every working day. They feel that people will associate them with the tie; it is some sort of trade mark. One wonders if they own more than one such tie and if not, do they wash the tie at all?

Amassing Managerial Power
In the book Developing Managerial Skills, Mr D Whetten and Mr Kim Cameron lay out five guidelines for amassing managerial power.

  1. Increase your centrality and criticality in the company by acquiring a more central role in the work flow. You should have information filtered through you thus making part of your job responsibilities hard to duplicate. You should expand your networking of communication contacts and find an office convenient to the main traffic flows.
  2. Increase the personal discretion and flexibility of your job by reducing your share of routine activities. Instead, you should have more specialised task activities, getting involved in new projects, participating in the early stages of decision-making, and making it hard for others to judge your success on the job.
  3. Attempt to build tasks into your job that are difficult to evaluate by making up an ambiguous job description, getting advanced training, and joining many professional associations to increase your industry networking.
  4. Increase the visibility of your job performance by expanding the number of contacts you have with senior people and those who matter, making impressive presentations of your written work, taking part in problem-solving task forces, and finding ways to increase your personal branding.
  5. Increase the relevance of your tasks to the organisation by becoming an internal coordinator or external representative, providing services and information to other departments, expanding the extent of your work activities, becoming involved in decisions of importance to the company’s main goals, and becoming a mentor or trainer for new members.

President Donald Trump is unlikely to win respect as a leader because although he has the power of the presidency behind him, too often he resorts to coercive power with the use of threats and force to win loyalty from employees and others. He is used to this method of leadership as his previous success is from the tough world of business. It is easier for him to use reward power to win over his followers.

Referent power is the ability to create an aura of personal acceptance. People with charisma, integrity, and compassion are examples of those who can easily make use of referent power.

Reward Power
Senior managers wield much reward power as they have the ability to influence the allocation of incentives in a company. These incentives include pay increments, positive annual appraisals, and promotions. Employees learn not to offend those with reward power. They go out of their way to please these managers. Reward power, if used properly, motivates employees. But it often leads to favouritism, rewarding only those who are in their clique. Such abuse of power can backfire by demoralising employees.

It takes a lot of effort to accumulate managerial power and it cannot be built up overnight. All the effort is worth it as it leads to quick promotion and your reputation as a charismatic leader will spread far and wide.



​Mr Tan Chee Teik is a freelance journalist. He is a regular contributor to M360 and Today’s Manager.


Copyright © 2017 Singapore Institute of Management

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