Here is a compilation of essays on ‘Power of an Individual’ for class 9, 10, 11 and 12. Find paragraphs, long and short essays on ‘Power of an Individual’ especially written for school and college students.
Essay on Power of an Individual
- Essay on the Introduction to Power
- Essay on the Definition of Power
- Essay on the Bases of Power
- Essay on the Sources of Power
- Essay on the Allocation of Power
- Essay on Organizational Power
- Essay on the Distinction between Power, Authority and Influence
Essay # 1. Introduction to Power:
Study of power is important in the corporate environment. Power depends from person to person and its use depends upon the attitude of an individual. Power in public life is different than corporate world. While former is situational, the latter is object oriented. In public life, its promises may or may not work as desired.
Proper use of power in organization is necessary so that the sources of power is not misused and directed towards attainment of organizational goal. It is important to understand the manager who uses power to understand employee behaviour, because methods of using power are different for different managers in the organization.
It is therefore essential to allow minimum power that may be necessary to maintain peaceful environment. The study to understand how power is acquired and used for attainment of organizational goals is essential.
Essay # 2. Definition of Power:
Power is derived from the official position held by an individual in an organization. As Rosabeth Kanter says, “power is the ability to get things done.” Those in power are able to marshal their resources in a way that helps them achieve their goals. They are able to be effective in their jobs and earn the respect of others. Having power as resource can help you gain support, information, supplies—everything and anything that is needed to be productive in your job.
Power is a tool and resource, a means as an end while politics represents tactics used by employees to use to manipulate power in organizational setting. Leaders use power as a means of attaining group goals. Leader use power to ensure compliance of job assigned to them. Power is also used to control various activities of individuals and groups. A purchase manager may be given power to procure raw material worth only Rs.10,000 in one transaction.
This is to control his activities. A leader may use punitive power to prevent individual from restraining undisciplined activities. Manager having power to promote his subordinates uses it to attain organizational goals. Power should be used for attainment of growth of the organization and should be reward oriented in nature. Threat of power is not desirable as it has negative re-enforcement character inbuilt in it.
When we discuss power, authority is associated with it. Authority is acquired from the organizational hierarchy. When we say that HR manager has an authority to employ an individual, this authority is associated with the appointment of an as HR manager.
It is therefore legitimate. Authority relationship of various individual is contained in organizational pyramid chart, higher one goes, higher the authority. Authority and power go hand in hand. To be effective, power and authority should be equalized.
Authority and power are synonymous. But in present environment it is observed that while authority remains constant there is a tendency to exercise more power. This is because of the politics played by an individual to maintain higher influence over resources. On the contrary, there may be situation when an individual does not use full potential of his authority for one reason or the other.
Interpersonal and group conflicts are indicative of more influence one wants to exercise in the organizational setting. These happening are common to every layers of organizational hierarchy. Power is therefore personal and acquired. Power is an ability of a person to possess what he feels as valuable and deprive another person of the same.
According to Wolfe, power is potential ability of a person to induce forces on another person towards movement or change in a given direction within a given behaviour region, at a given time. Cavanaugh2 states that ‘Power’ is a multifaceted concept, which has been analyzed from interpersonal influence process, as a commodity to be traded, as a type of causation and as an issue in the study of values and ethics.
Politics is a process whereby power is acquired and used to influence behaviour of others. It is endemic to every organization. People form groups, camps or cliques when they play politics. People playing politics for power where ethics, moral values, organizational goals are of little concern.
Dalton identified following six areas where politics was being played actively:
1. Pressure for economy.
2. Co-operation of officially powerless experts with their administrative superior line and staff-relationship.
3. The conflict between labour and management for interpreting agreements.
4. Uncertainly about standards and strategies of promotion.
5. Difficulty in linking reward with productivity.
6. Practicality of policies.
Dalton observed that various type of alliances tend to develop among individuals; these alliances may be vertical, horizontal or mixed and are prime means of acquiring influence. This phenomenon of acquiring and exercising power seriously changes the command and control system in the organization. It forces to deviate from the established norm and process.
Essay # 3. Bases of Power:
French and Raven and Raven have put forward following six bases of power:
This power source derives from the person’s control over resources, for example power to control human resources, pay and promotion. Greater the perceived value of each rewards the greater the power. These rewards can be extrinsic in nature with tangible values as well as intrinsic such as praise or recognition.
The power to punish or reward, the power to threaten and to use one’s position to force others to take action. It reflects the extent to which a manager can deny desired rewards or administer punishment to control other people. For example a threat to meet given targets otherwise there would be reduction in salary.
The power which is exercised in accordance with organizational rules. This power which is exercised with the authority of organization. Power derives from our cultural system of rights, obligations and duties, whereby position is accepted by people, i.e. right of private property.
This depends on charisma or personal attraction of the individual. Interpersonal skill and emotional support from others are the sources of power for a person. Stronger the association, stronger the power. For example Mahatma Gandhi, people believed in his ideology.
Power which derives from knowledge. Sometimes called sapient authority, this is power based on an acknowledgement of others expertise e.g. Physician.
Information about people, events or other facts assist prediction about future behaviour or events.
Power exists within two parties i.e. those exercising it and those responding to power. Power is the capacity to mobilize resources for effective use. Mobilizing capacity depends on the situation involved.
For details see Figure below:
Capacity to exercise power depends upon the situation which provides opportunities or restrictions on the use of power and the personality of those wishing to exercise the same. Asymmetry of power refers to the perceived differences between the power of involved parties and its relationship.
Personality refers to physical and psychological advantage an individual has over other persons. For example Sachin Tendulkar enjoys charisma and power related to it due to his personality. The military power relies upon the notion of legitimacy. If it is challenged the whole system will collapse.
Essay # 4. Sources of Power:
1. Knowledge as Power:
Information Technology has taken a big leap in the last two decades. Information is necessary for top management to take decisions. Information is vital to carry out various operations in the business environment.
Thus a person or a group holding information becomes more powerful than their counter part. Flow of information is necessary for continuous production or service operations. Persons who are in position to control the flow of information wield enormous power to influence the behaviour of others.
2. Resource as Power:
Resources are necessary for any organization. While material or tangible resources can be procured easily, it is the availability of these resources, at right time, at right place in a required quality and at a competitive price. Any person having monopoly over scares resources wield power.
When project is required to be started, it is government agencies which delay the project for want of various resources, like power, water, etc. Human Resources are critical. Any person having direct or indirect control over making skilled persons available holds power. Organization cannot survive without adequate availability of various resources.
3. Decision making as Power:
Decision making as power in organization rests with the head of the organization. Decision making is delegated to departmental heads depending upon the nature of work, ability of the departmental heads and the trust enjoyed by them. Decision making is one of the most important processes of management.
Decisions are influenced, may be by subordinates, peers, friends or even family members who are psychologically close to decision maker. Therefore, both a person having decision making authority and a person who can influence decision making have power in the organization. Hiring a close relative, purchases in the organization, client selection etc. are day to day events in the organization which, indicate the power centers.
4. Power Centers:
There exist people in the organization who desire to be more strong. They also want people dependent on them. Specialists, people with special powers deliberately delay decisions or hold resources so that they become more demanding. Power centers exist in various departments. It may in form of reservoir of power.
Strength of power depends upon degree of dependency. Greater the dependency on the power holder greater influence will the power holder exercised over his subordinates. Dependency is directly related between power holder and those do not have it.
Power holder holds power of retention to be able to increase dependency managers have two dimensional power base. One is the power generated by the organizational authority and the second, the personal power by virtue of personality as proposed by Whetten and Cameron.
Centrality refers to activities which are central to organizations. Finance is central activity in the organization hence the finance manager holds power in excess of his authority . Finance manager further allocates funds to various departments. Department heads therefore also become powerful not because they can further allocate funds to their subordinates but because centrality of activity.
Managers of various departments have power based on their departmental position. In addition they enhance then- power position by virtue of opportunities they get to control activities that are central to the organization. This gives managers authority to control various units and sub-units.
When resources are in abundance there is no problem as everybody would get them based on their requirement. When resources become scarce, a person obtaining it will appear to be more powerful.
Finance is a scares resource if a director of an institute manages to obtain additional funds from AICTE or by way of consultancy obviously he becomes more powerful in the eyes of management. Same is true of a faculty which may not be judged by efficiency of imparting knowledge but by obtaining finance for the institute from external sources.
Management is related to planning for organization. It is basically related to identification of organizational objectives, evaluation of various alternatives and selection of best course of action and planning resources to put in action the course selected.
Uncertainty of availability of required manpower with specific skills, raw material, finance can play havoc with the plans. There are situations when government policies change with the change government that further makes situation more critical. A manager who has a vision and can appreciate what is likely to happen in future and takes corrective actions in advance obviously garner additional power.
According to Kanter5 most power goes to those people, in those functions, that provide greater control over what the organization finds currently problematic. For e.g. sales and marketing people when markets are competitive, production experts when materials are scares and demand is high; personnel or labour relations specialists when government regulations impinge; finance and accounting types when business is bad and money tight. There is a turning to those elements of the system that seem to have the power to create more certainty in the face of dependency, and to generate a more advantageous position for the organization.
Greater the value of a person in the organization, the greater the power it holds. There are some people who amass power because of their speciality. By virtue of their contribution to the organization they become indispensable. However situation changes due to marketability of a particular brand of profession. Software engineer were in great demand in the organizations.
They demanded high salaries and perks. They were indispensable a few years ago. As of now they have very restricted market for them. They could not be substituted by another person. What is important is that people have a tendency to take advantage of their specialization and high demand in the market and exploit organizations by using added amassed power.
Essay # 5. Allocation of Power:
Division of Work:
Work is divided in the organization based on technical and functional requirements. Though all jobs are important from the organizational point of view, yet it cannot be denied that some job is comparatively more important than the other and persons holding those jobs hold more power irrespective of their personal leadership qualities.
Division of work brings dependence hence power. There is also a smoothing effect phenomenon hidden in division of power because of distribution of power among various appointments thus leading to minimizing absolute power with a particular authority.
Essay # 6. Organizational Power:
Organization allocates power in two ways:
(a) Structural power:
Organization structure has hierarchy of authority. Higher the position higher the legitimate authority. Mere granting of authority does not make a person powerful unless he uses it effectively. Invoking sanctions, awarding promotions or even punishments makes a manager powerful. If a leader does not use power, displays lack of interest, does not keep pace with development, delays decisions and lacks effective communication it makes a manager ineffective and powerless.
(b) Functional Power:
Functional power is related to a job a person does. By virtue of division of labour explained above, people in organization do a very specific element of a job. Interdependence of employees develops rather smoothly which culminates in completion of job. Any specialization in isolation does not lead to power generation; rather it diminishes its effect. Scarce skill, longer duration of a person in organization, extent of access to vital information is some of the factors that makes a person more powerful.
Power comes from functional exclusiveness which can be achieved as under:-
1. Devote more effort, time and energy on unbeaten, unattended fields.
2. Develop friendly work relations.
3. Share information with your subordinates and make them part of decision making. By seemingly sharing, one attains more power.
4. Communicate judgments rather than justifying it.
5. Handle expertise carefully and yet let there be exclusiveness of skill.
6. Be available when required. Gather relevant information before decision.
Essay # 7. Distinction between Power, Authority and Influence:
If leadership is about influencing others, how do we go about developing that influence with people? How do we get people to do our will? How do we get their ideas, commitment, creativity, and excellence, which are by definition voluntary gifts? … To better understand how one develops this type of influence, it is critical to understand the difference between power and authority. …
The ability of a person or a group to influence the beliefs and actions of other people. It is the ability to influence events. Power can be personal power. A person gets his personal power from his personality or from his expert knowledge.
Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Programmers, etc. get their power from their expertise and professional knowledge. Power can also be legitimate or official power. This power comes from a higher authority. Power is comprised of a relationship between two or more people.
The right given to a manager to achieve the objectives of the organisation. It is a right to get the things done through others. It is a right to take decisions. It is a right to give orders to the subordinates and to get obedience from them. A manager cannot do his work without authority.
Authority cannot be bought or sold, given or taken away. Authority is about who you are as a person, your character, and the influence you’ve built with people. It is one’s expression of one’s self, which is treated, power erodes relationships.
The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself, the power to shape policy or ensure favourable treatment from someone, especially through status, contacts, or wealth.
We can list the influences of organizational behavior:
1. Organizational culture
2. Organizational climate
3. Management style and philosophy
4. Organizational structure and process.