Influence, Power, and Politics: An Organizational Survival Kit

            In an organization, there needs to be a leader who is good in influencing people in the organizational ladder and has the power to direct people to comply to the rules, regulations and programs; and someone good in politics of running the organization.

            In terms of influence, there are different tactics that a leader could use. However, it is necessary to recognize what is “soft” or “hard” among the tactics so as to know what to use. Hard tactics leaves the person being influenced less freedom while soft tactics are considered thoughtful and constructive. Hard tactics include exchange, legitimating, pressure, assertiveness, upward upheaval and coalitions. Soft tactics, on the other hand, include personal appeal, consultation, inspirational appeal, ingratiation and rational persuasion.

            According to social psychologist, Robert Cialdini, there are six principles of influence and persuasion namely reciprocation, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking and scarcity. These six principles discuss the behavior of people toward influence and persuasion. Reciprocation talks about people returning a favor and people commit to people whom they trust will honor the commitment, which is also associated to social proof. People need to see some proof from people who want to persuade them. People are more likely to be influenced when they see an authority and if they like the person. Lastly, the possibility of influence increases when there is scarcity in resources.

            In terms of power, French and Raven (1960) presented five bases of social power. They are coercive power where someone is being forced to do something against his will; reward power where people do something because he is motivated by the reward; legitimate power, which is something invested in a role; referent power is a power from another person; and expert power when the knowledge and skills required is embodied by a person required to do the task.

            Lastly, there is still the concept of empowerment where leaders put power in their subordinate to complete a task. This is made successful when the leader knows how to put positive influences to those people whom he wants to follow. While they are being influenced, they are also empowered to do their tasks.


French, J. P. R. Jr., and Raven, B. (1960). The bases of social power. In D. Cartwright and A. Zander (eds.), Group dynamics (pp. 607-623). New York: Harper and Row.

Cialdini, R.B. (1993). Influence. Retrieved October 21, 2008 from

Hall, A. and Leverne B. (2007). Influence: The Essence of Leadership. Retrieved October 21, 2008 from

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