In the last byte, we looked at the managerial implications of the decision making dimensions that we had discussed. In today's byte, we begin our discussion on the concept of power.
Power could be understood as - "the ability to influence another person."
Note the term used here is not authority but influence. It is important to understand the distinction to be able to grasp the concept:
Influence is - the process of affecting him thoughts, behavior, and feelings of another person.
Authority is - the right to influence another person.
To understand it better, a manager may have the authority but no power! The position could give the individual the right, as a supervisor/boss; however the person may not have the skill or ability to influence others.
An important aspect here is the understanding of the "zone of indifference" - It is a range in which any attempt to influence a person will be perceived as legitimate and will be acted on without a great deal of thought. Ex: An employee wouldn’t see working for forty hours per week, greeting customers, solving problems and collecting bills, when requested by the manager as completely legitimate and within the zone of indifference. However, if the manager requests the employee to organize a birthday gift for the manager's spouse, or to over charge a customer etc; it goes beyond the zone of indifference.
The constant challenge for the manager is to work on enlarging the employee's zone of indifference and this could be accomplished by power rather than authority!