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The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun

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16.2. The sources of power

Power (n): The ability to do or act; capability of doing or accomplishing something.(2)

To understand politics and have a chance to influence or succeed in how things play out, you need to understand the basics of political power. Most forms of power in an organization center on what decisions an individual can make or influence. Think about how decisions are made in your organization: if there is a tough call that needs to be made, who gets to make it? Who is allowed to be in the room as it's debated? Whose opinions are most often listened to? Those are people with degrees of power. Having clear authority to make a decision is the most basic form of power, but having access to that decision maker, asking questions, or suggesting ideas is another form of power. As I covered in Chapter 12, granted power is the most obvious form because it comes down through the hierarchy. It is implied in people's job titles or other symbols of seniority. Granted power almost always comes to a person through someone in a higher position of power. The VP grants power to those who work directly for her, and those individuals grant power to those who work for them. The VP could decide to give certain individuals more power than others—if that was in the best interest of her goals.

Earned power is distributed organically. Because reputation and ability are subjective (compared to job titles and hierarchy), each individual in a project plays a role in determining who has ...

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