Evaluating Earlier Models >>Positive Power and Influence  

Positive Power and Influence

In the seventies of the last century Roger Harrison and Dave Berlew developped the Positive Power and Influence Program by looking at the different ways of influencing by people in practice. They discern four categories of sets of behavior and labeled these as:

1. Assertive Persuasion, now Persuading
2. Reward and Punishment, now Asserting
3. Participation and Trust, now Bridging
4. Common Vision

Positive Power wants to signal the use of power by position or knowledge can in certain situations be necessary. The model was originally not developed for the world of organisations and of manager and co-worker interaction. It stems from looking at people in general and their ways of interaction in all kinds of issues and all kinds of settings. Their model can however be used for training managers wanting to become more effective influencers. Styles have substyles, wich makes it possibe to arrange levels of education. The first level looks at the main styles and having mastered these one can enter the next grade where one learns more differentiated behavior wthin the styles.

I have several years of practicing this model and using it with qualified trainers when training young managers. The absolute strong points of this model are:

1.  the influencing styles are well recognisable in every day life communication processes, and thus can be used not only in top-down hiėrarchical situations of manager and co-worker but also for all other interactions of a leader, for example towards collegues or own boss.

2.  the influencing styles can in trainingpractice not easely been seen without taking into account the attitude or required empathy that is necessary to consistently perform these sets of behavior styles. The model gives the opportunity to go a step deeper and reach some of the norms and values that effective communicators should have internalised.

3.  the training material (questionnaires/(mini-)cases) is intelligent and does not see reality with its complexities as a non issue.

4.  the model is directed towards equiping a manager-trainee with a broader set of applicable influencing behavior (styleflexibility), and leaves him/her all room to choose freely in wich managementsituation wich behavior to implement.

However as a tool for managers and for behavioral trainers wanting to learn managers more effective managementbehavior we see serious weaknesses. We name but a few of them:

1. there is no direct link between the reponsability a manager in a modern organisation and the overall set of behavior he has to engage in recognisable managementsituations to be durable effective leading indication of situations in wich these

2. there is no structural attention for the necessary self-reflection and the managementdecisions a manager has to make before engaging in certain sets of behavior and the relation of these decisions to style effectivity.

3. the model lacks a clear focus on bussinesslike behavior as generating added value for an organisation through complex communicationprocesses

4. like many models at that time the focus is on the leader towards actor communication exclusively. He or she wants to achieve something with his influencing regarding another person. So he learns persuading, bridging and to realize a common vision, whatever circumstances he find himself trown in. Interactivity of persons each with their own goals for influencing the other is not taken into account in the training model, nor the idea that a manager should strive to optimize interactive behavior in his responsability domain in order to maximize organisational effectiveness.

5. there is no attention for the generation of added value with regard to the differing taskcompetences of interacting persons, leader inclusive.

6. there is no attention for negotiating as a behavioral competence for effective influencing by managers

To conclude in short: this general model of influencing behavior has in our view many valuable strongpoints. Yet it lacks a structure wich helps managers learn to position their decisons and learns them therewith contingent managementbehavior to reach these set goals. This can probably declare the lesser and lesser use of the model in our regions in the previous decennia. Models of managementstyles like the Situational Leadership Model have offered managers and managementtrainers a (perhaps too) "easy" structure that promises learning management as a profession and that offers a language that helps managers to present themselves as managers have obtained a wider audience. With the arrival of even newer models that do not focus solely on the manager at the center of all organisational interaction and present differing quality levels of generativity in interaction one can only wonder what the future of this model in managementtraining will be.