Ethics and Politics

6998 words 28 pages
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Strategic Leadership and Decision Making
17
LEVERAGING
POWER AND POLITICS
The challenges faced by strategic leaders in implementing complex and long-range consequential decisions demand that they be sophisticated with respect to issues of leadership, power and influence. The changes that are shaping the nature of work in today's complex organizations require that we develop the political will, expertise and personal skills to become more flexible, innovative and adaptive. Without political awareness and skill, we face the inevitable prospect of becoming immersed in bureaucratic infighting, parochial politics and destructive power struggles, which greatly retard organizational initiative, innovation, morale and performance
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Such differences change slowly, if at all. • Most of the important decisions in organizations involve allocation of scarce resources: they are decisions about who gets what. Scarcity exacerbates political behavior. In government at present, the competition is for personnel spaces and funding. Mission is the means to gain both, because resources tend to follow mission. For this reason, the Services compete for strategic mission (e.g., the omnipresent roles and missions debate), and thus make the job of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs more challenging. In the government as a whole, agencies compete for significance in the national/international picture, because significance means public approval and that means resources. (The two dominant political parties also attempt to present the American public with different views of what is significant.) • Because of scarce resources and enduring differences, conflict is central to organizational dynamics and power is the most important resource. Conflict is more likely in under-bounded systems (less regulation and control). In an over-bounded system with power concentrated at the top (e.g., pre-Glasnost Russia), politics remains, but underground. Jefferies makes the point that organizations play the political game within the broader governmental context, but those individuals also play politics within organizations. So both influences are at work. And power is key in both cases, because it

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