Who holds the power? Thoughts on Distribution vs Concentration of Power

On a scale of 1 to 100 where 100 is the highest concentration of power, Romania scores 90! For reference US has a score of 40.  So, what story does this score reveal about us? 

First, let’s take a look at the two culture types: the one with a high concentration of power accepts the hierarchies easily, without questioning them, or challenging the fact that the power is concentrated in the hands of few individuals. The culture that has a larger distribution of power accepts hierarchies as a convenient form of social organization which has to function based on democratic mechanisms and continuous consultation.

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Following the same structure as in my previous articles, let’s see some common behaviours and the management approaches you can take into consideration while dealing with them.  

Behavior #1  

Let’s face it: we all want to be bosses because this makes us feel powerful, accomplished and respected by the others.  

Approach #1  

I personally hate this tactic, but it works. I hate it just because management skills are rare and only those who are good managers should be recognized as such…. but it is a tactic that works because it keeps people motivated and focused on the job. Simply adding Manager to the title of the person and for higher roles, VP, is thrilling for most of us. 

Behavior #2  

The entrepreneur or the “boss” takes all decisions (because he’s empowered, isn’t he?), micromanages everything and, without him, people just stop executing not knowing what to do next.  

 Approach #2  

If you are such a person and you want to change, build a team of people you can trust on a personal level. Then, it would be even better if these people are also skilled professionals. But keep in mind: trust is mandatory, skill can be developed. Put effort into developing this team and try to delegate your power to them. Work towards a future where you will be able to take a full sabbatical year and anyone from your managerial team can be your stand-in.  

Behavior #3  

Inability to delegate is two folded: bosses don’t delegate and, when they try to do it, people don’t know what to do. Even when you try to empower them, many times they are afraid of exercising this empowerment and it is simply because they are not used to this.  

Approach #3  

When delegating a task, explain clearly what the expected outcome is and assure the person you are delegating to, that they will benefit from all the needed assistance, at least for those first times when both of you start this power delegation process. Don’t just assume that it will be done easily, follow-up closely and push for progress. After few attempts, people grow their confidence in using more of the power that is delegated to them.  

It’s quite easy to recognize if an organization is characterized by concentration of power. You simply need to ask who takes decisions on day-to-day matters or just observe a meeting: is the decision maker doing most of the talking or the meeting is run in a more democratic manner?  

 Reference: The psychology of the Romanian people, by Prof. Daniel David