Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Asking an Expert: What Is Power?

"Power is like being a lady ... If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t." Margaret Thatcher



As we began to assess who wields influence today in Pittsburgh, we confronted the question: What is power? PM Editor Cindi Lash spoke with David Krackhardt, professor of organizations at the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management and the Tepper School of Business at CMU. An internationally recognized expert who focuses on power in the context of organizations, Krackhardt also has held faculty positions at Cornell University Graduate School of Management, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, INSEAD business school in France and the Harvard Business School.
 

How do you define power?
What we teach people is that power is the ability to find and mobilize scarce resources in an organization in order to be able to get things done. The tricky part is recognizing where those resources are. Many times, those resources are other people. Powerful people recognize and understand who can do other things, and they especially can influence people to do other things. … That’s why it’s a critical component of leadership.


Some people view power as a desirable asset, while to others it’s a negative trait. Is power inherently good or bad?
Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of mayors in cities around the world who have been quite powerful and quite corrupt. Power is like any resource — like fire, it can be destructive. [Effective leaders] manage it so that it doesn’t have deleterious effects on the organization. It isn’t a question of being a nice guy. It’s a question of respect. George Patton was not a nice guy, but boy, did they respect him. People would move mountains for him.

Once you acquire power, how do you keep it?
It’s a delicate balancing act. Big power brokers often run into that trap: You’ve won on your success and you start feeling arrogant about it. When that happens, people start losing their power. When Margaret Thatcher was working her way up in the Tory party, she was very well aware of how people would respond and what she needed to do to get the backing of various factions. In her third term, she started not listening to anybody and isolating herself in 10 Downing St. That’s when her cabinet turned against her.

How would you advise Pittsburgh’s power brokers to wield their influence to be effective leaders?
It’s easier to come up with great ideas and much more difficult to implement them. My wish for Pittsburgh would be two things: that our leaders have the skills and access to advisers and information to be far-sighted to see what would be really good for the city and region; and that they have the power to implement it. 
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Power in Pittsburgh

Asking an Expert: What Is Power?

Asking an Expert: What Is Power?

"Power is like being a lady ... If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t." Margaret Thatcher
15 of Pittsburgh's Future Power Brokers

15 of Pittsburgh's Future Power Brokers

According to the region's behind-the-scene players, these individuals are some of the city's rising stars.
50 Most Powerful People in Pittsburgh

50 Most Powerful People in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Magazine consulted dozens of power brokers and behind-the-scene players to determine and rank the 50 individuals who, in Pittsburgh, make things happen.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
8 Places You'll Want to Discover Not Far From Pittsburgh

8 Places You'll Want to Discover Not Far From Pittsburgh

Point a compass north, south, east, west and everywhere in between. We chose eight destinations, each within a few hours' drive of Pittsburgh, with lots to explore at every step.
From PIT: 5 Easy Destinations for International Travelers

From PIT: 5 Easy Destinations for International Travelers

This year, the city’s vacation horizons are wider than ever, thanks to an array of easy new flights from Pittsburgh International Airport.
Restaurant Review: Acorn is Ready to Grow

Restaurant Review: Acorn is Ready to Grow

Scott Walton's restaurant plants a much-needed seed on Walnut Street in Shadyside.
Pittsburgh Drag Queen Doesn't Care What You Think

Pittsburgh Drag Queen Doesn't Care What You Think

Jezebel Bebbington D’Opulence discovered her place in the world through taking to the stage in drag.
Competitive Obsession is The Standard For Sid

Competitive Obsession is The Standard For Sid

The Penguins’ late-season advantages spring from a seemingly unquenchable desire to compete that begins with the captain.
Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in March

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in March

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Dig In: The Next Wave of Pizza in Pittsburgh

Dig In: The Next Wave of Pizza in Pittsburgh

Now is the time to be eating pizza in Pittsburgh. Pizza makers are crafting pies in a variety of styles from New York to Old World. We round up our nine favorite destinations.
Can Anthony Hamlet Fix Pittsburgh Public Schools?

Can Anthony Hamlet Fix Pittsburgh Public Schools?

The superintendent, and former NFL player, is using a new school of thought to change legacy problems.
5 Pittsburgh Craft Distilleries Earning a Place on the Shelf

5 Pittsburgh Craft Distilleries Earning a Place on the Shelf

Uncovering the hidden gems of western Pennsylvania’s craft spirit world.
Edit Module