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Positional power is limited. The organization divides power and resources among individual positions to achieve its mission. Position or job descriptions provide a roadmap or template of how individual members of an organization should work together. Each job description authorizes a functional group or manager to conduct a specific aspect of organizational business. Delegation of power and authority by others is finite.

Individuals often place limits on their own positional power. While positional power is already finite and limited, many people do not use or claim all that is available to them. They may fear conflict with others, but more often they may not understand what behaviors support the positive use of positional power. Furthermore, certain value conflicts may exist in the organizational culture that prevent the full use of positional power. Many organizations, groups, managers, and supervisors are ambivalent about how they should use their allocated or delegated positional power. The mixed message they get from others in the organization is that the use of positional power is risky or even negative. As a result, people are very careful about its use.

To maintain and expand positional power by claiming all that the organization has allocated, you need to…

Influence your managers to:

  • Grant you the necessary authority to carry out assigned responsibilities.
  • Provide you with backup when conflicts arise
  • Delegate tasks toy ou clearly and distance themselves appropriately while you do the work.
  • Give you constructive feedback on how well you have met your responsibilities.
  • Use a feedback process to clarify and expand positional power.

Influence your direct reports to claim the positional power allocated to them as noted above. Practice the same principles your expect from your managers.

Influence skills support the positive use of positional power. It is possible to use all your positional power to meet objectives and to build relationships to achieve positive influence goals. You may even be able to expand your positional power in productive ways. Consideration and open exploration of positional power problems will lead to a more effective organization as well as to greater personal achievement.

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