Business Politics Players – Why Individuals Don’t Use Their Personal Power
Everyone possesses personal power to some degree but many chose not to use it. Commonly shrouded as a righteous choice to not play politics or a self protecting underestimation of one’s power, the primary reason for not exercising personal power is fear.[wcm_restrict plans=”51431, 25542, 25653″]
There exists a logical basis for this fear. While formal power – legitimate/positional, reward, and coercive – are the weakest forms of personal power, when push comes to shove they always trump the informal expert and referent personal powers. Consequently, while one might be in a stronger personal power position, a wrong step may lead to a reprisal from a positionally senior person that ultimately cannot be defended against.
Common fears keeping individuals from fully leveraging their personal power include but are not limited to the fears of:
- Losing one’s job
- Incurring reprisals (demotions, lost or delayed promotion opportunities, diminished performance ratings, lost or diminished pay/bonus, and loss of desirable assignments/projects)
- Failing in one’s role or activity
- Earning an undesired reputation
Amplifying these fears is belief in the long-term corporate memory that will prolong the impacts of undesirable events; influencing the person’s career within the organization. Additionally, individuals fear the ‘word’ getting out to other potential employers because of the ‘small world’ factor thereby not letting them escape these impacts even after moving on to another organization.
Other Fear Contributors
Often feeding one or more of the preceding fears are personal characteristics and beliefs hindering some from using their personal power. These include:
- Desire to be ‘nice’ or being perceived as a nice person
- Desire to not be seen as disagreeing in public associated with:
- Sense of loyalty to the person with whom the individual disagrees
- Exaggerated sense of subordinate place/position
- Training, experience, and/or observation to not disagree in public because of negative consequences
- Overly heightened desire to be a team player and viewing descent as not being a team player which is often not the case
Dealing with the Fears
Fear is very real and, in too many cases, legitimate. There are many who will do anything to maintain and advance their positions and power including using their power in destructive ways against others. Remember, these individuals will use their power against you regardless of your use of personal power if it serves their purposes.
StrategyDriven Professionals derive their personal power from Expert Power, among others. It is this rational perspective that one must deal with the fears associated with using personal power. Truly StrategyDriven Professionals are always in high demand, difficult for an organization to dismiss or diminish and sought out by competitors. Consequently, their personal power serves as an ongoing ‘shield’ against negative blowback from the use of personal power and the missteps often plaguing those new to this arena.
When embroiled in unwanted business politics, StrategyDriven Professionals will seldom be asked to leave because of their incredible organizational value and can easily exercise the option of moving to another organization; typically doing so to some gain in their careers. How long will a quality move take? It depends on a number of factors as described by Marc Miller in “How Long Will My Job Search Take?“
So remember, address your fears of using personal power logically and always be ready to exercise the outlet of changing organizations… both of which will likely give a boost to your career.[/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember plans=”51431, 25542, 25653″]
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