Option 1: My Power to Influence Essay
ORG300 – Applying Leadership Principles
Colorado State University – Global Campus
“The ability to influence others is a critical trait exhibited by successful leaders. Understand the sources of personal power and work at making them the origins of your inner strength, credibility, and character” (Matsushima, 2015). When I think about what kind of powers I see in my workplace, I would say that Reward, Legitimate and Expert present themselves the most. These powers don’t come from my supervisors and upper management but from many of my coworkers as well. I have a very inviting workplace despite the fact that I work in a level three prison. Many of the people that I work with I find to be very inspiring, with traits that I try to emulate.
I work as an administrative assistant for the Case Management Department at Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility. I work closely with many high standing figures to include the Warden, Associate Warden, the Administrative Services Manager, the Case Management Supervisor, the Intelligence Officer and many of the lieutenants and captains that run the facility. Many of these individuals have contributed much of their careers to this one facility and their ability to share their knowledge and insights about a wide range of subjects have been very beneficial to the short time I have been there.
Reward power is the ability of a supervisor to give some type of reward to an employee as a means to influence (EPM, 2017). This is usually done by influencing the employee with either an intangible or tangible objects. Tangible objects would be things like gifts or awards, bonuses and raises. Intangible, which are more commonly given, are things like praise, positive feedback and recognition. These kinds of rewards are what are commonly given in my place of work. Every morning at 8AM we have role call, a meeting to address events going on at the facility and across the state. At these meetings it is very common to do what we call “Snaps for Staff”. This is when staff members are recognized for their efforts around the facility and they are presented with a small trophy. Snaps for Staff are a very common part of our meetings and they come from staff recognizing other staff all over the facility. It’s almost beautiful to see how appreciative everyone is of their co-workers and that they actually make it known so that everyone can appreciate their efforts.
Legitimate power comes from the belief that a person has the formal right to make demands (Mind Tools Content Team). Those with legitimate power are those with titles such as CEO, Chief or Judge. Another great example would be Warden, since the warden is the one who is ultimately responsible for the lives of over 900 offenders and 500 staff. A lot is expected of our warden and he handles it with great stride. He has been working for the Department of Corrections for more than 20 years. He has worked his way up from a lowly correctional officer to warden of the oldest prison in Colorado in that time. He is very security minded, though you would never think that he runs a prison by talking to him. He is a very humble man and treats all of his staff with courtesy and genuinely cares about our wellbeing. I think this aspect of him lends very favorably to his leadership and legitimate power. He makes time to get to know all of his staff and listens to their concerns, so when the time comes for him to act like the warden all of us are more than happy to work with him to achieve whatever result he is looking for.
“Expert power comes from one’s experiences, skills or knowledge. As we gain experience in particular areas, and become thought leaders in those areas, we begin to gather expert power that can be utilized to get others to help us meet our goals” (QuickBase, 2018). There are two people that I work with closely that share this power with others so that the entire department can benefit. These two individuals are the Case Manager II and Case Manager III. I work for both of them assist them in supporting the 12 other case managers in the department. I enjoy getting to listen to their insights and usually go to one of them with my questions. I feel incredibly fortunate that I get to learn from the both of them. I know that there are many others, especially the other case managers, who value their input and wisdom. Our Case Manager III has put 20 years into the Department of Corrections and the Case Manager II has dedicate 11 years, so the skills and knowledge between them make them excellent leaders; and that applies to more than just the case management department.
Personally, I don’t think that you have to be in a position of leadership or a senior level role to have some sort of power. Many of the people I work with prove this to me everyday. Their sources of power, in addition to their personalities, have garnered for them much respect and it shows. They have also shown their credibility, and according to Mr. Matsushino, “without credibility, influence without positional authority is virtually impossible.” Since working for the Department of Corrections, I have seen a whole new level of leadership that I did not know actually existed. I have learned so much from everyone and genuinely feel like I have joined a family, not a company. I look forward to learning all that I can for everyone and using that to become a better leader as I work my way up in the department and in the state.
Expert Program Management. (2017, July). Reward Power in the Workplace. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from https://expertprogrammanagement.com/2017/07/reward-power-in-the-workplace/.
Matsushima, R. (2013). How to Improve Your Ability to Influence Others. Contract Management, 53(3), 8. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.csuglobal.idm.oclc.org/docview/1503674025?rfr_id=info:xri/sid:primo
Mind Tools Content Team. (n.d.). French and Raven’s Five Forms of Power: – Understanding Where Power Comes From in the Workplace. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_56.htm.
QuickBase. (2018, November 1). The 5 Types of Power in Leadership. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from https://www.quickbase.com/blog/the-5-types-of-power-in-leadership.