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Power Up: Transforming Organizations Through Shared Leadership by Allan R. Cohen, David L. Bradford

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ENHANCING POWER THROUGH MUTUAL INFLUENCE

Post-heroic leadership is about powering up—increasing the total power of each individual, every unit, and the entire organization. That is a hard goal to disagree with, but individual managers are often more interested in increasing their own power, believing that they have too little. The concept of shared leadership makes them nervous, because it suggests that they will have to give away some portion of that meager supply of power. Yet we offer power enhancement, not power dilution.

Most managers think about power too narrowly. To them, power is the control that comes from formal authority associated with position: the power to give orders to subordinates and know that their orders will be followed. This power is, in fact, in increasingly short supply. In today’s environment, that kind of license is not likely to expand since it presumes a static world in which leaders know all problems in advance and their expertise perfectly matches their organizational position. Even less available is the power of coercion. Managers who long to force compliance are now handcuffed by employee rights and attitude, cultural disapproval, and organizational complexity. The old command-and-control style no longer works.

There are still situations in which power determined by formal authority is appropriate. Certain rules must be set and enforced for legal ...

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