Power and Ethics

Change management and the topic of power are uncomfortable bedfellows in recent times.  Contemporary work on change has focused on the need to engage people from a positive perspective rather than brow beating people into submission.  Nonetheless, talk of organisational change without an appreciation of power is probably unrealistic.

Interest and fear is what Napoleon had to say about power.  Use of fear is incorrect politically in 2012 but! Who has power – it is not to be inferred from one’s position in the hierarchy.  Who controls the budgets, who has the ear of the senior person, who can engage staff?

What are the practical implications for managers?

  • Who are the budget holders and am I in touch with their interests?
  • Who are the opinion formers and how can I engage them?
  • Who will be the winners and losers from what I am proposing?

Finally, the use of power needs to be be countered with a nod to ethics so:

  • Is it legal?
  • Is it against company policy?
  • Is there likely to be a big loser from what I am planning to do?

Plan well but be aware of the power dynamics!