What is your Excalibur? Power Sources in organisational settings – an enhanced model!

“One of the things about powerful people is they have the ability to make it look easy” Ice-T

Which are the sources of power in an organisation setting? 

Are the previous studies’ outcomes regarding organisational sources of power still relevant? Will these be still relevant in the 21st century setting? 

Do the current organisational goals allow the same thinking about power to flourish or is there additional sources that we need to consider as more relevant in this age?

This article will argue that, as I have mentioned here and here, the skill-set of a good “questioner” i.e. someone that has a well-developed inquisitive mind, is the additional source of power that needs to be added to the existing lists. Let’s have a look why.

Excalibur

BRIEF HISTORY IN THE RECENT RESEARCH OF SOURCES OF POWER

1959: French and Raven’s Sources of Power:

In 1959, John French and Bertram Raven (American Sociologists) published an article called “The Bases of Power”. This is regarded as the basis for classifying power in organizations.

They identified five sources of power, namely: coercive, referent, legitimate, expert and reward power. These were defined as follows (reference from Paul Merchant’s article “5 Sources of Power in Organisations“):

 

1. “Coercive Power is derived from a person’s ability to influence others via threats, punishments or sanctions.

 

2. Referent power is derived from the interpersonal relationships that a person cultivates with other people in the organization.

 

3. Legitimate power is also known as positional power. It’s derived from the position a person holds in an organization’s hierarchy.

 

4. Expert power is derived from possessing knowledge or expertise in a particular area.

 

5. Reward power arises from the ability of a person to influence the allocation of incentives in an organization”.


1982: Hersley and Blanchard’s addition to the model

French and Raven’s model was expanded in 1982 by Hershey and Blanchard’s publication titled “Management of Organizational Behavior”.

In it, Hershey and Blanchard added two more sources of power namely:

6. Connection power which is derived from the ability to connect people and also from the width and breadth of one’s network (within and outside the organisation)

7. Information Power which derives from been able to gather, process and turn relevant data into information and knowledge. This source may or may not coincide with the Legitimate or Expert power source. The internet has flattened the information field and so, expertise and/or position may not be the only indicators for up to date and relevant / useful information nowadays.

 

SUMMARY OF POWER SOURCES

We can summarise and possibly simplify this list in the below broader categories i.e. Power because of:

i) Position (Coercive, Legitimate, Rewards, Referent),

ii) Relationships (Connection, Referent)

iii) Information (Expert, Information).


TODAY AND TOMORROW

We currently see that the 21st century brings along a different type of complexity. In the most dynamic and fast changing landscape we have ever experienced the skill sets for breaking down and working through complex issues based on critical thinking and good logical skills become more and more in demand.

The Customer base is becoming increasingly astute, as there are many more tools enabling it to compare and find out a highly customised solution.  This is the new norm.

Moreover, social media allows for information to spread rapidly throughout the world. It has been mentioned that, through social media, it now can take less than 20 minutes for an event to spread globally.

As I have discussed here, our ability to combine knowledge and invent solutions to the new challenges encountered can be a very strong differentiator in the marketplace.

“Thinking outside the square” becomes a skill heavily sought after.

Learning how to deal with new issues and organising your analysis, plans and actions towards effectively breaking down a situation and seeking solutions thus, becomes a critical skill.

Just think, when was it last that you had faced a “new” challenge, a more complex situation that you had not encountered before? Who did you seek advice from?

It is possible that you weren’t necessarily looking for a person with the power source described above but for someone who could guide your thinking through the maze of the problem’s elements and potential solutions towards effective mind mapping.

I firmly believe that this is a new source of power that is slowly evolving and establishing itself as a key for the future. We can call it “Effective Questioner” Power.

Organisations by default have positional power figures. The more successful organisations also have relational and informational-experts that deliver results.

How many though have implanted the critical thinking skill-set as a requirement in their Human Resources strategy? I believe that the successful ones of the future will.

Finally, the above plethora of power sources means that we now have more ways to differentiate and add value in an organisation. Like King Arthur who by searching and finding the Excalibur embraced a unique Power and privilege to rule, you now have to consider and reflect on your source of Power and answer the question:

What is your Excalibur?

OTHER RESOURCES 

Previous blog posts on critical thinking, logic and innovation.

  1. 8 must know question types for Effective Leaders (link here)
  2. Innovation: SCAMPER- A Practical Guide
  3. Top Tips – Avoiding Common Negotiation Pitfalls (link here)- First published in TheSource e-news
  4. 6 Additional Pitfalls to Avoid during a Negotiation – Cognitive Biases (link here)
  5. The Future of Learning – Are you part of the Learning Revolution? (link here)
  6. How to Conquer tomorrow? (link here)
  7. Conscious Communication – A paradigm for the 21st Century! (link here)
  8. In pursuit of Best Practice – Intrapreneurship (link here). First published in www.procurious.com
  9. The Leader’s Role is Setting and Keeping the Tune (link here) – Two inspirational Videos included.
  10. How to develop a winning organisation today! An inspiring talk (link here)
  11. “All Models Are Wrong, But Some of Them Are Useful” (link here) – First published in Procurement and Supply Australasia


 

 

 

8 must know question types for Effective Leaders

“The key difference between leaders and managers is that leaders focus on getting to the right questions where as managers focus on finding solutions to those questions”. Michael Marquardt

How many times have you found yourself wondering over a well placed question?

How challenging and stimulating is it to ponder over or doubt established beliefs and guided by a thoughtful question reach new lands previously unexplored?

You can think of the art of questioning as your compass towards a meaningful and productive answer and result.

Michael Marquardt in the insightful book, Leading With Questions How Leaders Find the Right Solutions by Knowing What to Ask, explores this very theme. He posits that leadership is all about asking the right questions.

Let’s look at some basic points he makes that will enable us to become better “questioners” and thus, better leaders.

 

question

 

TAXONOMY OF QUESTIONS  – OPEN ENDED VERSUS CLOSED ENDED QUESTIONS

In general, open ended questions stimulate thought and the overall discussion. Closed ended questions do the opposite.

In Procurement terms you can think of open ended questions closer to what an RFI or an RFP is aiming at and a closed ended questions closer to an RFQ.

Let’s look at an example:

Close Ended: “Did you meet your KPIs?”

Open Ended: “How has our KPI performance been going?”

It is evident that in the close ended version the answer is “Yes” or “No”.

The open ended version allows and welcomes commentary and frees up the dialogue towards constructive and productive interchange of ideas.The use of “why”, “how” or “what do you think about…” aims to structure open ended questions.

We have now moved on from a black and white world (if ever we were living in one).

Currently working on complex concoctions of all shades and colours means that we need to embrace tools that stimulate discussion, employee engagement (see here and here for more on this topic) and allow innovation to thrive (other tools for innovation can be found here and here).

 

WHAT TO DO: TAXONOMY OF OPEN ENDED QUESTION

  • what to do

There are various types of open ended questions for us to choose from. The basic ones are listed below:

1) Explorative questions open up new avenues and insights:

Example: Have you explored or thought of………..?

2) Affective questions invite members to share feelings about an issue:

Example: How do you feel about ………?

3) Reflective questions encourage more exploration and elaboration:

Example: You said there are difficulties with your project; what do you think causes these difficulties?

4) Probing questions invite the person or group to go more deeply into a particular issue. Words such as describe, explain, clarify, elaborate or expand aim to do just that.

5) Fresh questions challenge basic assumptions:

Example: Has this ever been tried?

6) Questions that create connections establish a systems perspective:

Example: What are the consequences of these actions?

7) Analytical questions examine causes and not just symptoms:

Example: Why has this happened?

8) Clarifying questions help free us from ambiguity:

Example: What specifically do you mean by that?

 

WHAT NOT TO DO: CLOSED and OTHER DISEMPOWERING QUESTIONS

what not to do

1) Closed Questions call for a specific answer, either yes or no, or calls for the respondent to select an answer from a limited range of choices. Closed questions often begin with what, when, or how many, or ask the respondent to agree or disagree with a statement.

Example: Do you like black or white?

2) Leading questions are those that force or encourage the person or group to respond in the way intended by the questioner.

Example: Were you at the meeting with Bob last night?

A non-Leading example would have been: Where were you last night?

 

SUMMARY

Continuous improvement and radical change relies on good and bold questions been asked.

Coming back to Procurement and Contract Management, results in a recent IACCM study,show that 88% of Contract Management professionals believe that improvement of the quality of the Requirements specifications was the number one factor to improve contract performance in their organisations (see here).

Imagine if the above tool of well placed and well thought of questions was used to clarify and specify Requirements Specifications for our RFx. 

How much better the Procurement and Contract Management process would then be?

 

 

David Allen – GTD system – Practical Personal Productivity

“Use your mind to think about things, rather than think of them. You want to be adding value as you think about projects and people, not simply reminding yourself they exist.”David Allen

We live in a world that is full of demands, requirements, deadlines and disruptions.

How can someone overcome the challenges this posits and enjoy the benefits?

One way is by developing a sound system of personal productivity (so-called,Action Management) that allows for macro-planning but at the same time for getting the everyday tasks done towards achieving our goals in life.

A great system that be-frees our potential can be found in David Allen’s – Getting Things done (GTD).

The system cannot be explained in one blog post so, I will try to provide an introduction here.

Keep on reading if you want to find out the basic tenets and thinking about this system as well as a presentation that goes through and additional resources for putting a concrete Action Management system in your life.

David Allen

David Allen

 

INTRODUCTION

Action Management can be defined as the process of creating a system in your life that helps you stay on top of your tasks, projects, aims and maintain an excellent work effort.

 

GTD system’s basic tenets

“You can do anything, not everything” David Allen. 

 

David Allen GTD system is formed around two basic axes:

1) Capture your thoughts.

The idea is that we are burdened by the constant flow of thoughts and actions that come to our minds.

As you may have noticed these may be in irrelevant random order or in sequence.

Worrying about forgetting something to be done, relying purely on memory alone is quite a stress in itself.

Tests have provided strong indications that the average person can retain around the 7 items in a list. Check this out when you test your memory when going to the supermarket. Some details can be found here.

In modern Western societies especially when we are constantly dealing with conflicting demands the magical number 7 is really low when compared to the amount of tasks one needs to retain to accomplish his /her goals.

Moreover, when the focus and stress is on retaining the menial tasks that need to be done to get by, one may lose the opportunity to create the necessary “mindspace” to think about the grander picture.

So, capturing your thoughts is very handy and be-freeing.

2) Focus on the Next Action

David’s system does not subscribe to the ABC rule (see here) but breaks down the projects in individual tasks (a task may be defined as something that can be accomplished in 20 minutes or less) and then urges us to focus only on the next step – next action towards achieving our goal.

As Master Yoda might say “do, or do not” – there is no priority C.  🙂

Of course, the system can be modified to use e.g. the Pomodoro technique for focus management (considering accomplishment of individual tasks) and the ABC method  to plan your projects and what comes first during your weekly/ monthly / yearly reviews. You can use SCAMPER for this (see here and here)

Working in small chunks is aligned with the idea elaborated before in the blog post “how to eat an elephant” and is used extensively by successful professionals.

Whatever productivity system you choose to work with, focusing on the next action in an invaluable tool.

 

PRESENTATION

The below presentation is elaborating on the GTD system and its main tenets.

 

 

 

Special thanks to Beth Wilton for collaborating in the development of the presentation.

 

If you are interested some further reading have a look at multitasking and ways to approach it (here).

 

 

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Image courtesy of http://www.thelegacyproject.co.za

 

12 Essential Tools to maximise Productivity, Profitability, Employee Retention and Customer Satisfaction!

In previous posts (here and here) I explained how by using the concept of (Net Promoter Score) NPS you can establish  whether your notion of running a great Team / Organisation can be measured by this simple feedback loop.

But, how can you tell which areas you need to improve on when your internal NPS score is low?

Let’s look at a simple and practical method to do just that.

East Stroudsburg University

THE METHOD

The method I am suggesting is a simple 12 questions survey as detailed in Marcus Buckingham‘s books, “First Break All the Rules” and “Now, Discover Your Strengths”.

The survey was developed by the Gallup Organisation after their 25 year study of more than 1 million employees and 2,500 business units. What they found was a strong correlation between positive answers to this 12 question survey questionnaire and the below key business outcomes:

  • Productivity
  • Profitability
  • Employee retention and
  • Customer Satisfaction

THE GALLUP ORGANIZATION’S 12 QUESTION SURVEY:

    1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
    2. Do I have the materials to do my work properly?
    3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
    4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for good work?
    5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care for me as a person?
    6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
    7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
    8. Does the mission of my company/department make me feel like my work is important?
    9. Are my coworkers committed to doing quality work?
    10. Do I have a best friend at work?
    11. In the last six months have I talked with someone about my progress?
    12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

                                                                                                   Marcus Buckingham, First Break all the Rules

QUESTION CLUSTERS

As you have probably distinguished the above 12 questions form 4 distinct clusters:

  1. Questions 1 and 2 -> “What do I get as an employee?”
  2. Questions 3 to 6 -> “What do I give as an employee?”
  3. Questions 7 to 10 -> “Am I in the right place to make the greatest possible contribution?”
  4. Questions 11 and 12 –> “How can we all give as a group?”

NECESSARY CAVEAT:

As with any such survey, running a productive culture survey means that you have established trust within your Team so that the survey outcomes are useful.

The survey can be run anonymously. This is recommended especially, the first time you run it as this can be used as a benchmark.

Thereafter and provided that you have worked on overcoming any trust issues, it is recommended to seek eponymous feedback so, you can discuss specifics with the respondents afterwards.

 

[Image courtesy of East Stroudsburg University / www.flickr.com]