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Power, Leadership, and Organizational Culture

               Power, leadership, and organizational culture are concepts that are woven together so tightly that one is always directly related to the others.  An organization’s culture can help employees, investors, and vendors determine how the organization was created and how it is managed, developed, and changed throughout its existence.  In addition, can organization’s culture must be understood in order to understand the organization itself.  Understanding an organization’s culture can involve reading mission and vision statements, evaluating goals, observing the organizational climate, observing language, customs, and traditions, and becoming familiar with metaphors or symbols used within the organization ” (Hughes, Ginnett, & Curphy, 2003).

            Organizational culture, because of the values and norms involved, also defines leadership within an organization.  Because of this trend, leads often create organizational cultures or play an important role in developing these cultures.  Those in leadership positions greatly contribute to corporate cultures by creating a climate within the organization.  There are many activities that leaders perform and others then observe and integrate into their own duties.  This includes what leaders are paying attention to and controlling, how leaders react to crises within the organization, how leaders distribute scarce resources, how leaders

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approach role modeling, how leaders distribute rewards and recognition, and how leaders recruit, select, and promote organizational members.

            The concept of organizational power is becoming more widely recognized as a central factor in organizational improvement efforts.  Many goals are accomplished by participating in games of power and politics, so it is important to recognize power as a key factor in organizational change. Power is defined as the “capacity of social actors [organizational members] to achieve desired objectives or results” (Astley & Sachdeva, 1984).  Because leadership positions are often equated with organizational power, it is important for leaders to be able to deal effectively with this perception.

            Power is also an important factor in organizational culture because one of Johnson’s (1988) elements of culture is the power structure.  The power structure of an organization takes into consideration who is making the decisions, how widespread the power is within the organization, and what policies and practices are based on power.  Organizational culture, power, and leadership are all intertwined when assessing how healthy and productive an organization’s culture ultimately is.  An organization has a healthy culture when its leaders use their power in a nurturing and productive way, as opposed to a means for personal gains ” (Hughes, Ginnett, & Curphy, 2003).

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