Friday, May 15, 2009

All your Power Bases belong to us!

After yesterdays post one of the classes I took once in school kept going through my head. The course was Organizational Behavior, and I think many people use a lot of the theories that were described to me during this course instinctively.

One in particular I would like to talk about is power. Not the negative Darth Vader type of power people immediately think about, but power to get things done. Power to make stuff happen in a good way.

Two types of Power

There are some scientists that believe that power is a basic human need (referred to as 'n Pwr', sounds like rawr almost, no?). These same scientists believe that there are two types of power. Socialized Power which is directed at helping others, and Personalized Power which is directed at helping oneself.

Of course if you're in a leadership position you come accross both types of power, but most officers proabably got themselves into the officer role because they wanted to obtain social power. The ability to help your guildies is a massive reward for any officer, though my experience I've found that funny enough through socialized power you often obtain personalized power as well. By helping my guildies I feel good about myself.

Five Bases of Power

There were two scientists (John French and Bertram Raven if you were interested in the names) who figured that there were five different ways to get power.
  • Reward Power: Obtaining compliance with promised or actual rewards.
    A while ago Wow Insider's Officer's Quarters reported that there was some sort of loot drama about a guild giving one of the drops from KT to a guildie who was in no way the first in line to receive this loot according to their loot system. Turns out that this guildie had paid for the vent server, and that a deal had been made.

    Of course this is an example of how not to use power, but it does an excellent job of describing Reward Power.

  • Coercive Power: Obtaining compliance through threatened or actual punishment
    I think some of the best examples of this power come from parenting. I'm sure we've all been sent to our rooms once or twice when we were younger and had done something that our parents didn't exactly like. They used their Coercive power.

    Another example of both of the above power bases is how a lot of loot systems work. Good attendance is rewarded, and bad attendance is often punished in some way (less DKP or none even). This power base is generally put in place by the guild, or the officers ,to obtain compliance with raid rules for example.

  • Legitimate Power: Obtaining compliance through formal authority
    The saying that goes with this I think is 'Pulling Rank'. Not for nothing does every guild have a leadership structure of some form. Already it makes it a lot easier for the members to see who they should look at for decisions, and in some cases who they should look at for permissions.

    It also helps if someone has been formally instated as an officer with the complete backup of the other officers and the guild leader. If the membership knows that the leadership as a whole has given this person the authority to make decisions they will more easily comply with the decisions made.

  • Expert Power: Obtaining compliance through one's knowledge or information
    The best example of this power base is class leaders. Most of the times they have gotten into the position of class leader simply because they know everything there is to know about their class. They also know how to teach others to know about their class.

    In WoW these people are the theorycrafters, the people who you see making spreadsheets. People turn to them for help with their class, and grant them this power.

  • Referent Power: Obtaining compliance through charisma or personal attraction
    The power of some of the greatest leaders in history were based on this power base. Martin Luther King was charismatic, he was so charismatic that because of this people chose to follow him. Clinton in some way was charismatic, hell even Hitler was a charismatic leader. He was absolutely nuts in the head, but when he started people wanted to follow him because of his charisma.
Everybody generally has some of every power base in them, and knowing what your strong and weak power bases are can help you on how to lead your raid group. Knowing yourself is always a good thing, and being aware of why people have decided that you were the right officer can help you to become a better officer.

It's also good to realize that there are different methods out there to get things done, and that in the end you always have a choice on how you wish to obtain your raid members' compliance. Perhaps Charismatic Power is the only one you cannot actively learn, but you can change the others by being aware of how you're using them.

What might be funny to know is that they researched the relationships between power bases and work outcomes, such as job performance, job satisfaction and turnover.
  • Expert and referent power had a slightly positive impact
  • Reward and legitimate power had a slightly positive impact
  • Coercive power had a slightly negative impact
Mandii obviously has some form of power too, up to you to decide which one! ;)

So what is your Self-Perceived Power?

A little help to see where your power bases are.

Score your various bases of power for your current (or former) job, using the following scale:
  1. Strongly disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Slightly agree
  4. Agree
  5. Strongly agree
Reward Power Score
  • I can reward individuals at a lower rank than myself
  • My review actions affect the rewards gained by others
  • Based on my decisions, members may receive a bonus
Coercive Power Score
  • I can punish lower level members
  • My position checks on members
  • My diligence reduces error
Legitimate Power Score
  • My position gives me authority
  • The decisions made at my level are of critical importance
  • Members look at me for guidance
Expert Power Score
  • I'm an expert in what I do
  • My ability gives me advantages in what I do
  • Given some time, I could improve the methods used
Referent Power Score
  • I attempt to set a good example for other members
  • My personality allows me to do good in my position
  • My fellow members look at me as their informal leader
Scores for the power bases are:
3-6 = weak power base
7-11 = moderate power base
12-15 = strong power base

My strong power bases are expert and referent, moderate are reward and legitimate, and weak is coercive. How about yours?

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