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Dimensions of Power: What can you influence, and how much?

How much power do you have in your organization? What dominates decisions in your company? Doing what's best or political considerations? How strong is the influence of the people doing the work vs the top managers?

I recently asked a project leader at a large organization about the weight of politics vs. substance in decision making. His response: they are of about equal importance. I wasn't really surprised. In fact, in all the years I have been coaching Agile teams, I have only once heard "It is the power of the argument rather than the positional power of the speakers which drives decisions."

OK, I work a lot with dysfunctional companies (who want to get better), but how many companies can claim that politics are substantially less important than substance in decision making?

What about the people in these organizations? The higher in the hierarchy you are, the more power you have. Does that mean as a mere employee that you have no influence? And what can people in high places really do with their power?

Certainly an influential manager can accelerate a career or make employee's life miserable, but often I get the impression that that is the limit of their power. Substantive decisions often require someone even higher up to or a lot of consensus building.

I have some theories, but before I publish them, I'd like to hear your experiences. What can you influence or decide? What can your managers decide (or not?) How important is politics in your decision making process?

Please comment or respond to my quick poll, How much influence do you have in your company?
Or better still, do both!

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