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Power and Conflict Management

Fadia Hasna December 2003

Learning Objectives
1. Define and describe power and empowerment 2. Analyse power in organisations 3. Interpret the types of power nurses have 4. Define and discuss conflict, types of conflict, processes and sources of conflict 5. Discuss conflict management and resolution techniques and outcomes

Some realities about power, conflict and nurses

All nurses possess some form of power and experience some form of conflict in their everyday work experience Power and conflict are basic elements of working life There is no total agreement about the definition of power Power is a central factor in interpersonal communication Transformative leadership uses power wisely

Power: The capability of acting or producing an effect, usually associated with the ability to influence the allocation of scarce resources (Grant 1994) The production by some persons of intended effects on others (Price and Mueller 1986) The basic energy to initiate and sustain action translating intention into reality (Bennis and Nanus 1985)

Definition of empowerment: giving individuals the authority, responsibility, and freedom to act on what they know and instilling in them belief and confidence in their own ability to achieve and succeed (Kramer and Shmalenberg, 1990)

Two types of power

1. Personal power: individuals who seek personal power seek dominance for the sake of dominance and conquest . They reject loyalty to the institution. Definitions of personal power The belief that a person can do something The extent to which followers respect, are committed to, and are willing to follow a leader (Hersey et. Al. 1996) Trust is the foundation of personal power

Professional power
2. Professional power: individuals who seek institution power sacrifice their own self-interest for the good of the organisation, feel a responsibility to build up the organisation and have a strong sense of fairness and justice Definitions: Getting the rewards from doing a job, acquiring expertise, being liked and having charisma. The use of professional expertise and competence, to make change in an organisation, do something good for clients, advance the profession, or make a contribution.

Power Mechanisms
Used to influence others to do what is desired by the power strategist 1. Assertiveness: Expressing your position to another without inhibiting the rights of others. 2. Ingratiation: Trying to make the other feel important (Giving praise or sympathising) 3. Rationality: using logical and rational arguments, providing information, presenting reasons, laying ideas out in a logical way 4. Sanctions: are threats positive sanctions are rewards used in motivation 5. Exchange: to persuade an exchange is made scratching each others back

Power Mechanisms (continued)

6. Upward appeal: Taking it to a higher authority to arbitrate 7. Blocking: deliberately blocking others from getting their way, threatening to stop working with them, ignoring them, not being friendly, making sure others CANNOT accomplish their aims 8. Coalitions: a group of people getting together to negotiate as one voice

Sources of power (French and Ravens 1959)


4. 5. 6.

Reward power: giving something of value. The ability to deliver desired results. Raise promotion, day shift Coercive power: force against the will. Threat of firing, disciplinary action, the ability to threaten punishment and deliver penalties. Expert power means the use of expertise by knowledge, competence, communication, Referent power: more difficult to understand because it is subtle. An informal leadership based on liking, charisma or personal power. An inspiration power, Legitimate power means position power.The right to command within the organisational structure. Other sources: information is power, group decisionmaking

Power and Leadership

Delegation Participation













Tactics to obtain power in an organisation

Learn and use the organisations language, symbols, priorities, and lines of power Determine who has power and get to know them Develop professional knowledge and power skills Be proactive and take risks Assume authority Promote yourself and take care of yourself Meet the bosss needs

Power of nurses in client care

1. Transformational power: The ability to assist clients to transform their self-image 2. Integrative power: The ability to help clients to return to normal lives 3. Advocacy power: The ability to remove obstacles 4. Healing power: The ability to create a healing climate and nurse-client relationship 5. Participative-affirmative power: The ability to draw strength from a caring interaction with the client 6. Problem-solving power: through caring the ability to be sensitive to cues and search for solutions to problems (Benner 1984(