You are on page 1of 13

Leadership

Research Article
Impact of power and politics in public and private organizations in Pakistan

Introduction
Research Question: What is the impact of power and politics in public and private organizations in Pakistan? Background and Introduction of Study:

Leadership is a form of social dominance, and leaders can exert powerful influences on the behaviors, ideals and feelings of the led. This research is concerned with rank and how, in humans, dominance expresses itself through the use of various forms of power. We will note that leaders can use their power in many different ways. They can use it to gain recognition, status and superiority for themselves and in so doing can act to suppress, intimidate, subordinate and structuralize the hierarchy and make sharper the boundaries between insider and outsider (the good and the bad). On the other hand leaders can act to relax, encourage and nurture subordinates, helping them to reduce their dependence on leaders, to de-structuralize the hierarchy and soften boundaries. To obtain a leadership position, obviously requires some type of power.

We are basically trying to explore the best and effective way to use power for leadership purpose and how one can influence others to bring change in a most suitable way. We will be studying this in context of Pakistani culture and how leaders use their power to effect followers in organizations of Pakistan. Many public and private limited companies emerged in Pakistan since its independence. At start power was being negatively used by leaders to influence followers but now as the world has become global village and due to globalizations many MNCS have found their way into Pakistan and along with this they brought western practices which created a shift from

autocratic to participative leadership style and effective use of power by leaders. In Pakistan there is a difference between private and public sector and how they use the power respectively.

Rest of the article is structures as follows. After the introduction, second section will discuss the review of previous studies to build the hypothesis .Third section will be of methodology followed by findings and discussion and fourth will be of conclusion and last section will tell you about the references.

Review of Literature
(Richmond et al 1983) studied the impact of leadership style, use of power and conflict management style on organizational outcomes. The discussed the association between leaders and followers in perception of the leadership style and use of power. The study contained sample of 87 organizational units and the findings of the study indicated that leaders and followers perceived that power was central to the only effective supervisor and people needed to be trained for the effective use of power, decision making, and employee satisfaction. To increase organizational power, effective leaders recognize the importance of developing their own personal power. (Kotter 1977) asserted the importance of planning, organizing, budgeting, staffing, controlling, and evaluating the people on whom the leader depends. Trying to control others solely by directing them on the basis of authority associated with ones position rarely works. Effective leaders often become dependent upon individuals over whom they have no formal authority. Also, in this modern age, few employees passively accept and obey authorities who issue a constant stream of commands simply because they play the role of boss. To increase ones organizational power in another way, a person can exhibit an attitude of trust in other organizational members. At the same time, developing a high degree of expertise within

the organization increases a leaders personal power. Subordinates gain respect for leaders when expertise increases and subordinates develop an attitude of trust toward the leader. Increasing ones own achievements and making them known establishes a higher organizational standard which subordinates can look up to and respect. As respect increases among the subordinates through a track record of accomplishments, the leaders personal power increases in the organization (Kotter 1977). Failure of the leader to recognize the need for the development and the importance of personal power will most likely increase subordinates resistance to Change or direction. (Erkutlu and Chafra 2006) studied Relationship between leadership power bases and job stress of subordinates: example from boutique hotels. For this a total of 400 people about 20 managers and 380 non managerial employees were included for research. This study was conducted so to assess leadership power base and job stress respectively. The results shows that positional power base generate job stress and the organizations that actively consider leadership approaches and wish to nurture and develop their leaders and managers will need to be mindful of the leadership power bases. (Liu and Fang 2005) studied power base leadership approach to project management. Power is a very useful thing if used as positive with a project leader may lead and motivate and it has negative side if it is used for personal gains. Sometimes the power is unevenly distributed among team member that is also a problem. Their article focused on the concept of employee empowerment and equal distribution of power among subordinates. The result shows that the project leaders traits and its personality are very critical factor in securing management effectiveness.

(Yukl 1998) studied leadership as the function of power. This article explains the insights of use of power and how its components can influence behavior of subordinates and peers. He explained different types of power such as position power and personal power. The findings suggest that leaders rely more on personal power than position power. It also explains that use of power as an influence tactics varies on different occasions and person to person and effective leaders use power in a very careful manner so that no ones self-esteem is targeted

Research methodology
Our main purpose of this research was to identify the type of power being used in organizations for effective leadership and what is the appropriate way of using power to influence peers and subordinates in Pakistan. It is the general perception of people that working in public and private sector is totally opposite. It is due to the fact that the power structure and hierarchy in both sectors is totally different. We also studied the comparison of use of power between public and private sector of Pakistan. Research design: We have conducted a qualitative research to find out the answer to above questions. For this we designed a structured interview and conducted it with managers and leaders of the organizations. Due to the limitation of the time we were able to conduct interviews in two public and two private sector organizations in Pakistan, which means our sample size is four organizations that are Mobilink ,Zong , KRL (Khan Research Laboratories) and OGDCL ( oil and gas development company limited). Mobilink and Zong are privately owned companies whereas KRL and OGDC are public owned companies. All these companies are leading and well established companies of Pakistan due to their strong and proficient leadership.

Findings:
According to the interview conducted in the above mentioned organizations we found out that power is the basic tool to influence the followers or to make them work to achieve the orgazional objective. In Pakistan the trend of using power has become a part of our culture as in most organizations the leadership style being followed is autocratic one. Leaders believe that there employees will not work until or unless they are monitored closely. For this the use of power becomes more important. It is common thinking of leaders of Pakistan that people will not be influenced until or unless you have some forceful power. Following are the findings of our interviews. We asked the respondents that how powerful you think you are at work on a scale of 1 to 5 and 5 being extremely powerful. Two replied that on this scale they are at scale 3 while the others considered themselves as scale 2 which means none of them were extremely powerful in the organization. After that we inquired the respondents that does their organization believe in empowering the employees. The answer to this question from respondents of public sector was negative whereas they private sector replied with the yes. The next question asked from respondents was that what type of power is mostly exercised by them in the organizations. Mostly respondents replied back saying that each power has its own importance and it depends upon the situation and the environment that which power is most suitable at that time. They further added that while working with peers they use relationship power whereas while influencing boss they may use information and expert power and incase of influencing subordinates they use power of reward and punishment. Respondents from public sector believed that position power is more influencing than personal power to achieve organizational goal. In link to this question another question asked was that which kind of power

do they think will be critical in future considering globalization and respondents from private sector answered believe that power of relationship will be more exercised and will be give importance and respondents from public sector said that the trend is changing but government sector organizations are very slow in response to change so in near future it will be based on same as present which is power of reward and punishment as well as the legitimate power. Another question asked from the respondents was that what support they need from organizations to become more powerful. The respondents from the private sector asked that they need space and flexibility at work. Another question asked was Do you thing personal power is helpful in influencing people in the organization? Respondents said that personalities do have an effect in the mind of the others and it helps in persuasion and people tend to be more attentive to what you want to say. One respondent said that the power of charisma helps you build relationships and connections which in future are helpful in getting promotions and better understanding between peers and subordinates. The interview continued with the question that do you think power can bring drastic change in the organization. Respondents of the private sector said that anyone can bring change but it requires a very influential and strong vision. The respondents from the public sector responded that it can only happen if the change is from the top level because a common employee has no say in policy matters also with centralized decision making and lengthy process a change can take years to be implemented but as trend is changing due to change in environment the future is blur. Furthermore question asked that do you believe in empowering the employees. The respondents from the private sector said that it has become necessity for private organization s to empower employees as it reduces lengthy decision making process and increase efficiency but

with power comes a great responsibility of work and employees in the Pakistani culture are use to work under supervision so a proper check and balance is required to empower employees whereas the respondents from the public sector were reluctant to the concept of empowerment and due to their rigid structure they have no voice in the decision making. The final question asked was that does power bring element of corruption. Respondents from the private sector said that having power is a great responsibility and if used negatively indoor to promote yourself and self interest can lead to failure in achieving the objectives of the organizations. In public sector respondents said that it is a common norm in such organizations that use of power is always taken as they considered themselves as they supreme authority and they think what they do and say should be done. Negative use of power can create hatred and de motivates employees which may result in losing talented people in the organization. Leaders also use power in unethical way as they considered themselves as not to answerable to anyone and they exercise their referent power to save themselves from legal situations , hiring people that are not deserving only on political basis , rewarding and punishing people on personal basis instead of merit.

Discussion
From our observation it is clear that the culture of Pakistan is still centralized in most of the organizations and leaders follow an autocratic or dictatorship style to influence followers but as new privatized organization believes in change with the change in environment and flexibility so there focus is changing towards more participative and decentralized style which enables employees to have their say and they feel more creative and motivated as they considered themselves as the part of the organization. The second thing is employees want their personal space and empowerment so that they would be able to take part in important decision making as

well as they can produce good results and a transformational change in the success of the organizations. From the above interviews we found that none of the leader whom we interview felt that they are extremely powerful due to hierarchy of the organization and due to their position. They all believed that if they have more power they can be more productive and can bring change to the organization in a positive way. To be an effective leader all the types of powers are necessary but in context of Pakistan the leaders emphasis is on position power where as they all said that it also depends on the type of situation and person on whom they are trying to make influence. Leaders of the organizations in Pakistan believe that to influence anyone power plays an important role to bring change. The leaders need to have a strong vision along with a strong will and end in mind which explains his/her ideas in front of his followers. Charismatic power also helps a leader in bringing change to the organization. To become a successful organization managers have play the role of leader and bringing change. They need to effectively use their power in order to motivate his followers and also share their power with competent employees so that processes can become robust and quick. The use of power in Public and private and public sector organization is very different if we compare both. The private organization tend to be more decentralized and employee centered and they believe in empowering the employee and the leader focus on both personal as well as position powers to influence others where as in public organization are centralized and task oriented and they focus on the power of reward and punishment along with legitimate power given in the position. In private organizations the hierarchy is totally different and promotions are based on the merit instead of political references and if we look at the public organizations we look at a downfall as merit is not given importance and instead of hiring competent

employees they focuses on referent power and mostly people who dont have the skill knowledge and attitude that is required for that are being hired. The rigid structure of public sector has created a barrier for them as they dont believe in change and innovation and if we look at private they spend millions of rupees on their research and innovation. In public there is job security and they are less motivated as they know that whether how much work they do they have a fixed salary and also the promotion processes are very slow and lengthy so these employees need to be monitored closely on their actions whereas private sector employees are self motivated as they are empowered and responsible for their own actions. Power means responsibility and leaders should understand that instead of using power in a wrong way they should be more employee centered and they should use their power to bring change in the organizations as well change in the attitude of employees as well. But if this power is used pessimistically then it can be harmful for not only the leader itself but also for the organization as well.

Conclusion:
This research was basically about the impact of power on effective leadership and we have discussed different forms and types of power and how they are being used in different organizations. For this purpose we have selected two private and two public organizations of Pakistan .We have concluded that power plays a major role in organization whether its private or public. It is being observed that personal power and position power are being used in the organizations. Power can be used in both ways it has a positive side as well as negative side to.In Pakistan power is associated with negativity as people misuse power for their personal interest; gaining recognition and rewarding their own people and punishing others. This lead to hatred and due to this the public organizations are not successful because of the same reason of misuse

10

of power and day by day they are losing their talented employees as well there credibility. But power if used in a positive way can make a organization successful as people think themselves as a part of decision making and they work hard for the well being of the organization. It is also observed that in the coming years the power of relationship and making connections will be used by different leaders in the organization and this play a vital part in making a leader powerful. We have also concluded that hierarchy of the organization and leadership style makes a leader more or less powerful .If a person is working in a democratize style of leadership then he will be more powerful against the person who is working autocratic style where he just has to follow the orders. It is also observed that power can bring drastic changes in the organization and in order to bring a change leader must be visionary and he must know how to deal with people and use relationship power to make people follow him .At the end we would like to say that power usually corrupts a person but an effective leader is one who has a control over himself and knows that power given to him is for time being and hr should exercise his power in the best way he could and he should also understand that with power comes great responsibility. Instead of having attitude and ego problem an effective leader works for the followers and for well being of the organization.

11

Annexure: Questions asked in the interview 1. What kind of leadership style is used in your organization? 2. How powerful you think you are at work on a scale of 1 to 5? 3. Does the organization believe in empowering the employees? 4. Which type of power is mostly exercised by them in the organizations? 5. Which kind of power do they think will be critical in future considering globalization? 6. What support you need from organizations to become more powerful? 7. Do you thing personal power is helpful in influencing people in the organization? 8. Do you think power can bring drastic change in the organization? 9. Do you believe in empowering the employees? 10. Does power bring element of corruption?

12

Bibliography: Erkutlu, H.V & Chafra, J., 2006, Relationship between leadership power bases and job stress of subordinates: example from boutique hotels, Management Research News, 29(5):285-297 Kotter, J.P., 1977, Power, dependence, and effective management, Harvard Business Review, Jul-Aug, 127-136 Liu , A . M & Fang, J., 2005, A power-based leadership approach to project management, Construction Management and Economics, (May) 24, 497507 Richmond, V, P., Wagner, J. P & Mccroskey , J. C.,1983,The Impact Of Perception Of Leadership Style, Use of power, And Conflict Management Style On Organizational Outcomes, Communication Quarterly, 31(1). Yukl, G.A., 1989. Leadership in Organizations, Second Edition, State University of New York at Albany, 1989 by Prentice Hall, Inc,34-53

Respondents:

13