Power Tactics: 7 tactical Dimensions or Strategies of Power Tactics

In everyday situations, people use a variety of power tactics to push or prompt people into a particular action. There are plenty of examples of power tactics that are quite common and employed every day.

Some of these tactics include bullying, collaboration, complaining, criticizing, demanding, disengaging, evading, inspiring, manipulating, negotiating, socializing, arid supplicating.

It is important that we understand and identify the different types of power tactics that are present. The interesting thing is, once we identify and discuss them, you will begin to notice them a lot more in your place of business.

You will begin to see when people are using these tactics and, in some ways, better understand how to deal with them. In this section, we move to the topic of power tactics to learn how employees translate their power bases into specific actions.

Recent research indicates that there are standardized ways by which power holders attempt to get what they want.

When 165 managers, were asked to write essays describing an incident in which they influenced their bosses, co-workers, or employees, a total of 370 power tactics grouped into 14 categories were identified.

These answers were condensed, re-written into a 58- item questionnaire, and given to over 750 employees. These respondents were not only asked how they went about influencing others at work but also for the possible reasons for influencing the target person.

The results, which are summarized here, give us considerable insight into power tactics – how managerial employees influence others arid the conditions under which one tactic is chosen over another.

The findings identified 7 tactical dimensions or strategies;

  1. Reason.
  2. Friendliness.
  3. Coalition.
  4. Bargaining.
  5. Assertiveness.
  6. Higher authority.
  7. Sanctions.

7 tactical dimensions or strategies are explained below;

Power Tactics: 7 tactical Dimensions or Strategies of Power Tactics


Use of facts and data to make a logical or rational presentation of ideas,


Use of flattery, the creation of goodwill, acting humble and being friendly prior to make a request.


Getting the support of other people in the organization to back up the request/


Use of negotiation through the exchange of benefits or favors.


Use of direct and forceful approach such as demanding compliance with the request, repeating reminders, ordering individuals to do what is asked, and pointing out that rules require compliance.

Higher authority

Gaining the support of higher levels in the organization to back up request.


Use of organizationally derived rewards and punishments such as preventing or promising a salary increase, threatening to give an unsatisfactory performance evaluation, or withholding a promotion.

The researchers found that employees do not rely on the seven tactics equally.

Read more: Leadership: Definition, Nature, Styles of Leadership

However, as shown in Figure, the most popular strategy was the use of reason, regardless of whether the influence was directed upward or downward.

In addition, researchers have uncovered five contingency variables that affect the selection of a power tactic, the manager’s objectives for wanting to influence, the manager’s expectation of the target person’s willingness to comply, the organization’s culture, and cross-cultural differences.

A manager’s relative power has an impact on the selection of tactics in two ways.

First, managers who control resources that are valued by others, or who has perceived to be in positions of dominance, use a greater variety of tactics than do those with less power.

Second, managers with power use assertiveness with greater frequency than do those with less power. Managers vary their power tactics in relation to their objectives.

When managers seek to benefit from a superior, they tend to rely on kind words and the promotion of pleasant relationships; that is they use friendliness. The manager’s expectations of success guide his or her choice of tactics.

When past experience indicates a high probability of success, managers use simple requests to gain compliance. When success is less predictable, managers are more tempted to use assertiveness and sanctions to achieve- their objectives.

We know that cultures within organizations differ markedly; for example, some are warm, relaxed, and supportive; others are formal and conservative. The organizational culture in which a manager works, therefore, will have a significant bearing on defining which tactics are considered appropriate.

Finally, evidence indicates that people in different countries tend to prefer different power tactics.

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