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The Influence of Politics and Power-Play
Organizational culture is constantly evolving due to the influence of diverse factors. Politics can be regarded as one of the reasons for the changes that take place in terms of organizational culture. Politics, in this case, can be defined as the behavior or activities aimed at achieving some personal goals that differ from the objectives of others (Omisore & Nweke, 1). People use different types of power and power-play to attain their individual goals. Many believe that organizational politics mainly undermines the development of a company, but such behaviors often have a positive effect. The transformations that have taken place at Vivint Solar are an illustration of the positive impact of organizational politics.
Todd Pedersen, the founder of Vivint, Inc., introduced favorable changes as a result of power-play. Pedersen is a successful entrepreneur, which had a considerable effect on the organizational culture where people are valued and where the corresponding working atmosphere governs (“Your future is looking bright,” 2). However, the exponential growth of the company made it impossible for the leader to have the same supervision over various processes. Executives, supervisors, and every employee tried to achieve some goals, which affected operations. Pedersen also had a chance to change organizational culture in 2015 (Pedersen, 3). He managed to perform the tasks of different employees and spotted several inappropriate practices or the lack of effective policies. Trying to attain his individual interests (making the company profitable and making it an enterprise where creative entrepreneurs are committed to the same goal), he improved safety-related policies. He made safety and collaboration the highest priorities in terms of organizational culture. His power-play involved such components as rewards, personal touch, persistence, vision, and focus on relationships.
Sources of Power Employed
The example of these changes can be instrumental in developing effective behavioral patterns and strategic agendas for leaders employed at Vivint Solar. Five sources of power are mainly outlined: legitimate, coercive, reward, referent, and expert (Wantaate, 4). Legitimate power is people’s ability to affect others due to their position in a company. Leaders use policies, standards, and protocols to enhance this power. Coercive power is people’s ability to influence others by punishing them. Depending on the position within the organization, employees may use such instruments as fines, extra work, and even sarcasm or rejection. Reward power is people’s ability to affect others by rewarding them. Expert power lies in people’s influence on others because of their knowledge and expertise. Referent power is the ability to influence others through being a model for them or being admired and liked by them.
All of these power sources should be used, but coercive power should be utilized sparingly. The use of this source of power may lead to low morale, poor performance, and high turnover (Wantaate, 4). It is essential to combine different types of sources and use specific sources in certain situations. In order to obtain these power sources, leaders should constantly self-develop and remain experts in diverse areas. They should also praise others for high performance, creative ideas, compliance with standards, development of new methods, and similar achievements. Monetary rewards can also be used, but leaders should also remember other methods to motivate employees: flexible schedules, additional days off, other strategies that can help in balancing employees’ work and family lives.
Leadership Behavior and Culture
As mentioned above, leaders should constantly self-develop and gain knowledge in diverse spheres. The understanding of the influence of politics and power-play on organizational culture should also be enhanced on a regular basis (Wantaate, 4). The exploration of this matter can help leaders develop new behavioral patterns that can be effective under different circumstances. In the vast majority of cases, leaders have a limited number of power sources, which puts significant limitations on their power and their ability to influence others. Therefore, it is important to gain new insights into the way politics and power-play affect organizational culture and develop the necessary skills. Apart from enhancing understanding of specific spheres (marketing, law, customer services, and so on), leaders should constantly improve communication and leadership skills. In this way, they will be able to utilize more or all sources of power to maintain or change organizational culture and ensure employees’ excellent performance.
Leadership behavior is one of the central factors that lead to the achievement of these goals. Todd Pedersen can be seen as an illustration of this statement. Pedersen examined the way people in different positions work and managed to identify some flaws in the existing practices and policies (Pedersen, 3). The flaws were addressed, and the performance was enhanced. One of the most influential factors that contributed to the improvement of practices was the leader’s focus on relationships and collaboration.
Leadership behavior often establishes values and major norms as well as the vision guiding an organization. If leaders pay little attention to details and lose contact with their employees, such organizations may often face considerable issues. Employees will not understand and accept the values that constitute organizational culture, which will lead to the poor performance of the organization. In such an environment, organizational politics will have detrimental results as people will concentrate on personal interests forgetting about organizational goals. Ineffective leadership can also result in impaired organizational structure as inappropriate communication and collaboration can make teams, departments, and the entire company inefficient.
To sum up, it is important to raise leaders’ awareness of the peculiarities of organizational politics and power-play, as well as their influence on organizational culture. It is essential to understand that politics can have positive and negative effects on companies’ structures and organizational culture. So, instead of trying to eliminate politics, it is critical to mitigate possible adverse outcomes and enhance positive ones.
Leaders should understand the specifics of power sources and be able to use all of the types of sources (reward, legitimate, referent, expert, and coercive). The use of a combination of these sources can make leadership effective. However, every power source has to be utilized in accordance with the situation. Coercive power should be the type of power used in rare cases in order to avoid negative consequences.
Todd Pedersen, the founder of Vivint Solar, employs referent, legitimate, expert, and reward power with only occasional use of coercive power. This kind of leadership behavior can be seen as the most effective. Such behavioral patterns can be used on a regular basis to improve employees’ morale and performance, as well as enhance organizational culture. Effective communication and collaboration at all levels should be the highest priority for leaders. Some condensed recommendations to enhance organizational culture include:
- Leaders must communicate with employees and try to understand the needs of certain people in specific positions.
- Leaders should use different power sources to improve employees’ performance and organizational culture.
- Expert and referent powers should become central power sources utilized while punishment has to be used sparingly.
- Constant self-development and exploration of organizational politics and power-play will provide leaders with helpful insights necessary for the effective functioning of an organization.
- Leaders should be models who inspire and guide employees, which will result in the establishment of strong organizational culture and flawless performance.
Bernard Oladosu Omisore & Augustina Nwaneka Nweke. 2014. The Influence of Power and Politics in Organizations (Part 1). International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, Vol. 4, No. 7. Web.
Your future is looking bright. 2019. Vivint Solar. Web.
Todd Pedersen. 2015. How Going ‘Undercover’ Made Me a Better Boss. Entrepreneur. Web.
Fred Wantaate. 2017. Attitudes and Behavior that Characterize a Power Play in a Small Group. Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict, Vol. 21, No. 2. Web.