Below are the two peers posts, write a 75-word peer replies to each of them.
Peer posts 1:
My argument is that leadership is learned over time. In our text, Fairholm (1993) notes the following
about the importance of relationships and how relationships between leaders and followers teach
important and valuable lessons in leadership:
At one level, all interpersonal relationships are leader-follower relationships. We are constantly moving
from a directive position to a follower one in our contacts with others. We see power in leadership
contexts in much larger dimension. It is a personal, rather than a merely positional, concept. The
operative characteristic of leadership is its intimacy (Fairholm, p. 31).
I would argue further that reflection upon relationships in leadership has to occur for leadership
values to be continuously fostered. People often do not realize the importance of reflection in order to
grow in leadership. One cannot know true leadership traits without self-reflection and introspection
Peer posts 2:
The discussion of whether leadership is an innate quality or a skill that can be taught and learned has
continued for centuries. To gain an insightful opinion in this matter one must have the opportunity to
observe a large pool of leadership trainees in a suitable setting. The military is a perfect testing ground
for this type of study. Anyone who has spent time in the military and becomes familiar with its
leadership training programs will quickly come to the conclusion that leadership is largely an innate
quality or one that is developed over a long period of going back into childhood development.
Leadership training programs in the military are standardized depending on each branch. Those who
are comfortable with, or crave the status of unit leadership, are certainly already predisposed to a
leadership mindset. Most people in the military tend to shy away from leadership positions as it really
just adds more responsibility with little return. To elaborate this point, military promotions are primarily
based on a small selection of criteria which include time in rank, time in service, career development
course requirements are satisfied, and physical fitness score. Leadership roles are considered but there
is no way to score or quantify it. Since promotions are based on an overall score, this creates a problem
of subjectivity. Even though every military member is required to attend career development courses to
develop leadership skills, a small percentage of them will ever be put into a leadership role based on
their ability to lead. Most of those who assume leadership positions are appointed during the course of
fulfilling promotion requirements by filling a command position. The ability to command is simply
implied based on the courses that a military member has completed since career leadership training
programs are standard. There is a rating system done within the chain of command, but it looks very
poorly on the command if members score low on their ratings. Therefore, there is no reason to
objectively score members in the unit for their leadership abilities.
The magic formula for creating quality leaders has been sought for centuries. Leadership is an art, not
simply a science. If it were simply a science, then it would easy to replicate.
ORGANIZATIONAL POWER POLITICS
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Tactics in Organizational Leadership
GILBERT W. FAIRHOLM
An Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC
Copyright © 2009 by Gilbert W. Fairholm
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a
review, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Fairholm, Gilbert W.
Organizational power politics : tactics in organizational leadership / Gilbert W.
Fairholm. — 2nd ed.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-313-37976-5 (alk. paper) — ISBN 978-0-313-37977-2 (ebook)
1. Ofﬁce politics. 2. Leadership. 3. Power (Social sciences) I. Title.
13 12 11 10 09
1 2 3 4 5
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Introduction: The History and Theory of Power
Part I: Deﬁning Power in Work Group Operations
Chapter 1: Elements of a Deﬁnition
Chapter 2: Deﬁning the Forms of Power
Chapter 3: Bases of Power
Chapter 4: Using Power Politics in Organizational Life
Part I Issues and Activities
Part II: Power Use: Tactical and Strategic Models
Chapter 5: A Power Use Model
Chapter 6: Power Use Tactics: Application of Power on the Job
Chapter 7: Using Power in the Organization
Part II Issues and Activities
Part III: Power Interventions That Work
Chapter 8: Tactics Used with Superiors
Chapter 9: Power Tactics Used with Peers
Chapter 10: Tactics Used with Subordinates
Chapter 11: Comparing Tactics
Chapter 12: How Inner Leaders Get Willing Compliance
Chapter 13: Using Power in Multinational Groups
Part III Issues and Activities
Everyone uses power. Whether we think about it or not, using power is a normal
and universal part of life. It pervades what we do and how we relate to others and
it dictates much of our success (Johnson, 2005). Power use is integral to our relationships (Telford & Gostick, 2005). It is a central element in leadership. For very
many people, the idea of power has negative overtones (Goltz & Hietapelto,
2002). This attitude stiﬂes full effectiveness on the job and limits our success in
all other dimensions of life. Perhaps the lack of prethought associated with much
organizational politics accounts for its failure and therefore its negative image in
the eyes of many group members.
Understanding power and power use, along with sensitivity to cultural
values, provide the best means of understanding leadership and what leaders do
(Fairholm, 1994; Gragnolati & Stupak, 2002). It helps us understand how leaders
lead, what they do in exercising leadership, and why some people are leaders and
other are not—even though they occupy similar positions in our economic and
social communities. Familiarity with how power is acquired and used in our relationships is critical in understanding our own and our followers’ behavior.
Applied power use is also a critical element of follower behavior. Engagement in
power use—practicing organizational power politics—therefore, becomes a
crucial part of our quest for success in life regardless of the role played in the
group hierarchy (Hogan, 2008).
The pioneering research the author reported on in the ﬁrst edition of
Organizational Power Politics: Tactics in Organizational Leadership continues to
provide a solid foundation upon which to analyze this phenomenon. In the interest of readability, the details of methodology and statistical proofs adduced in the
ﬁrst edition are omitted from this volume. The reader is directed to that resource
for details of this research, its methodology, and statistical ﬁndings. This second
edition assumes the interested reader will be familiar with this research. The present volume builds on its ﬁndings as it incorporates contemporary research, model
building, and the effectiveness of power tactics and related thinking to the model
presented earlier. This research references power use by executives from a wide
range of demographic and work situations and is summarized in Table A in the
This book interprets a solid and growing body of literature extending over
one hundred years on the operational uses of power coming from the growing
body of leadership studies and traditional managerial, sociological, psychological, and political perspectives on power (Brannen, 2005). The intent here
is to help readers—teachers, students, leaders, technicians, and followers—
access current knowledge and integrate it into a coherent strategy of operational
power tactics we have always used to secure our desired outcomes at work and in
all of our relationships with others (Barnes, 2005; Telford & Gostick, 2005). It
will help readers learn to use power to aid them and their group in achieving their
personal and organizational goals within the complex, global, multidifferentiated
organizations peculiar to twenty-ﬁrst century America.
This second edition includes several features intended to increase its utility
as a resource researchers and practitioners alike can use to sharpen their understanding and skills in using power in their relationships. Its main contribution
remains the identiﬁcation and application of the twenty-two power tactics that
leaders use to get their way in their relationships with others. Details of application and reﬁnement and a revised and updated analysis of the theory, operational
models, elements of power and their probability of success in use in a variety of
situations and by the range of professionals peopling the workplace will make the
second edition valuable to a wide range of professional and technical leaders.
This new edition will integrate current theory and practice to provide a twentyﬁrst century resource for twenty-ﬁrst century leaders.
In addition to updating the theory component of the ﬁrst edition and tightening the document’s language, the second edition includes a new chapter elaborating the use of power in multinational work groups and places this innovative
perspective in the marketplace of ideas. Another new chapter discusses the use of
power by organization members peopling the amorphous organizational subgroups making up the middle ranges of our large-scale organizations. These
group members differ in their orientation toward power from their CEO bosses—
the object of much past discussion and research about power use.
And, as a way to help novice leaders apply power in their group relationships
in appropriate ways, the second edition will add a variety of simple exercises,
activities, self-assessment instruments, cases studies, and/or discussion issues to
help readers assess their own power skills and hone them to better succeed at
work, home, or in other social situations, Together, these three major area of focus
will strengthen and direct the second edition, making it more useful to the reader
in both understanding and skillfully using power in their relationships.
The perspective taken here is practical in the sense that the orientation is
toward applied power use by individuals associated through organizational relationships (Telford & Gostick, 2005; Helgesen, 2008). The locus is, of course, the
group—an organization characterized by unique culture, values, and mores and
with a unique purpose, known leadership, and known and accepted group behaviors (Petersen, 2005). The centerpiece of this book is a grouping of 22 speciﬁc
power tactics both leaders and those they lead use in varying contexts to gain their
individual or group objectives. These tactics are typical of the internal political
interactions seen in the interpersonal relationships in which we all operate—the
jargon used is “ofﬁce politics.”
The thrust of this book is to blow away the mysterious shadows that obscure
organizational politics. Power is, obviously, a necessary and constituent part of
leadership (Rost, 1991) whether we admit it or not. The focus is on power-in-use
as an important tool facilitating all group action. All of us have power and use it
routinely in our relationships with others. Whenever a leader acts to induce others
to behave in ways they desire, power is in use. Employees also use power to
impact the behavior of their leaders and coworkers, customers, and constituents.
Indeed, whenever anyone induces others to behave in ways they would not
otherwise have behaved, power and potentially leadership is being exercised.
Leadership is, therefore, independent of rank or formal managerial position. It is
an aspect of personal behavior that always includes routine power use. Power use
is, simply, an instrument of intended action.
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Creativity involves, not in making something of nothing, but in integrating distinct
materials into a new whole. As with the ﬁrst edition, I am indebted to many people whose ideas and insights have informed and formed this book. So implicit is
their contribution that I can not always directly credit their contributions. To them
I owe thanks. I am also indebted to my wife, children, and grandchildren. Much
of my understanding of applied power comes from seeing them create their lives
by the positive choices they make daily in the face of an increasingly dangerous
and challenging world, a world they make livable—and lovable—for me.
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Introduction: The History and Theory of Power
Power is a part of all organized behavior. It characterizes all human interaction.
Organizational power politics permeates all aspects of interpersonal communications and is an essential characteristic of all organizational action. Knowing how
to use power is invaluable to us all as a means to achieve some desired future
action in others. It is instrumental, in that people use power as an aid to achieve
their intended results (Gragnolati & Stupak, 2002). Although we recognize that
power can be, and sometimes is, an end-goal, its basic use is instrumental. Power
has utility for the group member most often as an intermediary tool to achieve
some personal, desired-end value. It does not have much utility (or, some say,
even being) as a “stored resource.” In fact evidence supports the contention that
power is not a “tangible,” storable commodity (such as information or money or
raw materials). Rather, its main value is in its use.
The idea of power has both emotional and ethical impact (Jurkiewicz &
Brown, 1995). For many it carries negative connotations. Some see power as
“manipulation,” “coercion,” “control,” or “force” (Rickards, 2000). For many,
power use has Machiavellian connotations. Of course, power is, or can be,
manipulative. We see power at work in behaviors such as “brown-nosing,”
“yes-ing” the boss, and similar sycophantic action. In fact, “Machiavellian”
has come to epitomize the worst in manipulative, exploitative, self-serving
power use (McMurry, 2000).
A balanced perspective allows, however, for an alternative construction of
the situation and a more positive view—one that sees power as ethically neutral.
The ethics of power lies not in power itself but in the motives and values of the
user. As with any other tool, we can use power for “good,” that is, for socially
INTRODUCTION: THE HISTORY AND THEORY OF POWER
developmental purposes (Kuhn & Graham, 2005), or for “bad,” that is, for
personal aggrandizement. User goals and operational results achieved, not power
application itself, are the ethical criteria (McClelland, 1975; Jurkiewicz & Brown,
1995). One can use power without destructive result to either self or others.
Results depend on the motives and skill of the power user. They are also a function of the power capabilities of all others involved in the particular power
exchange (Tepper, 1993).
Accepting this perspective, we also must accept the idea that power use
becomes critical in understanding normal group life. All organization members
use power to secure their goals, not just the leaders, supervisors, and managers
whom we traditionally view as powerful people. All people control scarce
resources of some type in negotiating agreement among related individuals. We
take independent action to direct organizational energies toward our predetermined goals, indeed, in setting those goals in the ﬁrst instance. Effective power
use secures both organizational and personal goals in most (if not all) organizational action. All of us most of the time engage in organizational politics as we
negotiate our way through our careers.
There is mounting support in current and traditional management writings
that legitimizes power and deﬁnes power maintenance functions (Tepper, 1993).
Power is, of course, central to organizational impact processes such as leadership,
planning, directing, controlling, and performance evaluation. It is in this sense
that most leaders and other workers see power use. It is also in this context that
power use has its most telling impact on personal and organizational success. The
task ahead is clear: develop a constructive way to think about and use power with
a minimum amount of disruption, pain, and dysfunction. Before anyone can
accomplish this, there must exist a body of knowledge and a technology they can
apply to day-to-day situations. Until scholars and practitioners have these data at
their disposal, it will be extremely difﬁcult for either to be effective in making
improvements. Until someone develops this knowledge, both will have to get
along on the basis of hunch, guess. and an individually ascertained, “cumulative
wisdom.” It is to this end that I dedicate this book.
THE HISTORY OF POWER THEORY
Power use is so imbedded in daily life that viewing our interrelationships in
power terms deepens our understanding of why we are or are not successful in
reaching our goals. Seeing our relationships in power terms is a new perspective
for most of us and adds a new dimension to human relations, in stark contrast to
traditional relationship perspectives such as networks of communications, conﬂict resolution, change, motivation, or values (Fairholm, 1991; Gragnolati & Stupak, 2002). Adding a power perspective is new, even through a few researchers in
the past hundred years of its modern history have advocated this perspective. A
careful reading of organization and leadership theories unmasks the power com-
INTRODUCTION: THE HISTORY AND THEORY OF POWER
ponent that has always been part of our theory and practice. We have only lacked
a language of power and the theoretical platform to make it clear. Over the years
several writers have begun to abstract working models and strategies applicable
to leadership. (See, e.g., Russell, 1938; Follett, 1942; Krech & Crutchﬁeld,
1948; Bachrach & Baratz, 1970; Hickson, Hinings, Lee, Schneck, & Pennings,
1971; Salancik & Pfeffer, 1977; Fairholm, 1993, 2003; Coleman, 2004; Brannen,
2005; Yap, 2006: Yukl & Becker, 2006.)
The following discussion relates sometimes disparate power ideas into a synthesis, which is hopefully beneﬁcial to practitioner and academic alike.
Society is a condition of inequality. Whether in the animal or human realm,
we ﬁnd the ordinary and the extraordinary, the leaders and the led, the powerful
and the relatively powerless. The patterns of dominance and subservience found
in nature are mirror images of systems present in our social systems all over the
globe. Consider this listing:
1. The leader displays the trappings, posturing, and gestures of dominance—
sleek, calm, relaxed, and purposive.
2. When challenged, he scares his foe with aggressive charges.
3. If needed he can—and does—overpower his opponent.
4. He is not only physically strong, but is cunning, quick, and intelligent as
5. He reinforces his dominance on the group by maintaining harmony,
thereby ensuring his position.
6. He develop ...
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