A guide to leadership for in-house counsel—Part 3: Power, politics and change
A guide to leadership for in-house counsel—Part 3: Power, politics and change

The following In-House Advisor guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • A guide to leadership for in-house counsel—Part 3: Power, politics and change
  • Leadership, power and politics
  • Leadership and change

This guide has been written to address the practicalities of leadership. If you find yourself in a leadership role for the first time, this guide contains some helpful ideas that will get you started. If you are an experienced leader, you will benefit from some fresh perspectives. The ideas in this guide reflect a pragmatic view of leadership and the development of leaders, focusing on the real problems and opportunities that they face. Produced in partnership with Cranfield School of Management.

Leadership, power and politics

'Power is the capacity to translate intention into reality. Leadership is the wise use of power.'

So said the American leadership writer and thinker Warren Bennis. In most organisations leaders will find themselves operating by bargaining between agendas held by different individuals and groups.

Assess your own and others’ power bases

It is important that you are aware of your own power bases since this will affect your ability to influence effectively and results will suffer accordingly. Do you know where your power comes from? Here is a short description of some recognised sources of power:

Reward power The ability to influence behaviour by positive reinforcement and reward. Examples of this are praise, compliments, pay increases, promotions, and the ability to arrange