Management power

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This free article about management power by Derek Stockley identifies the power held by leaders and managers, often without realising the extent of the influence of that power.

Management power

I left my office for five minutes one day this week. When I returned, the first thing I noticed was a new addition on the top of my desk.

One of my sons had been sorting my old files. He found a nameplate (a sign with an old organisation logo and the name 'Derek Stockley' printed on it). It had a very attractive wood grain appearance and still looks quite smart many years later.

My son didn’t realise that there was a story behind the nameplate - he just thought he was being funny.

Everyone in the organisation had a nameplate made for them. Each one was made inhouse by a workshop facility. When a new employee started, a request would go through to the workshop.

I happened to be acting as the administration manager of that workshop shortly after I started. Consequently, the employee who made the nameplates came to my office and I made my request.

When my nameplate arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by its appearance. It had the woodgrain finish rather than the standard corporate colours.

I didn’t think much more about it. Sometime later I saw the employee again. He made a remark about how he had carefully chosen the woodgrain finish to match my desk and office furniture.

Without knowing, my management position had influenced his behaviour. He had paid extra care and attention to what to him would have been a very regular task.

We often do not realise the power we exercise over others. It can come from position and status. It can come from respect and admiration. It can come simply because the person wants 'to please the boss".

Whatever the source, power like that is a privilege.

When I conduct training sessions, I am mindful of some research results I once read. The research was about the unconscious power exercised by trainers. When you stand in front of a training group, you wield a lot of power. Participants listen to what you say. Within reason, they will basically do anything you ask of them. They will let you set the agenda and determine how the session will be conducted.

It is the same with management power.


Exercise care with the power you have. Use it wisely and it will reward you.

Personal reflection

Are you aware of the power you have over others?

What is the source of your power? Does it come from status or position? Does it come from admiration and respect?

Do you use your power wisely?

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Derek Stockley conducts a variety of public training courses in Australia.

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