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Management: The Art of Power & Persuasion

Updated on April 6, 2015

by Amber Maccione

Power and persuasion go hand in hand when it comes to managing a company. If one just had power, it would be a dictatorship where everyone just did what they were told out of fear. When one adds persuasion to power, one becomes the neck and backbone of the company, turning the company in the direction it needs to go while having the support of both the top-level management team as well as the bottom level management teams. True power is “the ability to influence other people” (Bateman & Snell, 2013, p. 437). Influence is the “ability to get things done or accomplish one’s goals despite resistance from others” (Bateman & Snell, 2013). Being able to influence allows one to motivate, which is essential to any leader (Bateman & Snell, 2013). Therefore, understanding one’s role and the roles of others in management, as well as styles of management, can help one influence others to change or bring about change within an organization.

Management Roles

There are three levels of management: top or strategic managers, middle or tactical managers, and frontline or operational managers (Bateman & Snell, 2013). Understanding one’s role within management helps one understand their amount of power and who he or she has the power of influencing. It also helps with showing the chain of command. When change is wanted and someone of the frontline level has a solution, he or she would go to middle level management for approval and middle level would then go to the top level. This gives respect to the power granted to roles.


The top-level of management is sometimes referred to as the strategic managers (Bateman & Snell, 2013). They are the organizational leaders of the company (Bateman & Snell, 2013). The CEO, COO, and CIO are examples of managers that would be on this level (Bateman & Snell, 2013). They are senior executives that oversee management as a whole and focus primarily on the long-term issues involving the company, putting emphasis on survival, growth, and effectiveness (Bateman & Snell, 2013). They handle communication between the company and outside sources (Bateman & Snell, 2013).


The middle-level management is the link between the top-level and frontline-level (Bateman & Snell, 2013). The managers here are referred to as the tactical managers who act as supportive coaches who are responsible for translating the goals and plans coming from the top-level to specific objectives and activities for the frontline-level to implement (Bateman & Snell, 2013). These managers bridge the gap between the top and bottom so that communication is effective, and knowledge and skills are spread across units (Bateman & Snell, 2013).


The last level of management is the frontline-level, sometimes referred to as the operational managers (Bateman & Snell, 2013). Managers in this level are supervisors of those that are nonmanagement (Bateman & Snell, 2013). They implement the objectives from middle-level (Bateman & Snell, 2013). Since they are closely linked to the customer base, they are able to attract and develop resources while also managing growth and potential for new business (Bateman & Snell, 2013).

Levels of Management

Broad Responsibility Roles

With the three levels of management also come responsibility roles, which can be interchangeably dispersed, meaning that a top-level manager may also have the same type of role as a frontline-level manager. There are three groups of roles: interpersonal, informational, and decisional (Bateman & Snell, 2013). Interpersonal contains three roles: leader handles staffing, training, and motivating; liaison is responsible for networking with contacts outside the company; and figurehead, who does symbolic duties to give the company a good reputation and grow community trust (Bateman & Snell, 2013). The second groups contains three roles as well: monitor, who is the nerve center of communication; disseminator, who transmits information from source to source; and spokesperson, who speaks on the company’s behalf (Bateman & Snell, 2013). The last group is decisional, which has four roles: entrepreneur handles looking for new business opportunities and helps create change so the company can grow; disturbance handler, who takes corrective action when there are issues within the company; resource allocator is responsible for providing funding for each unit in the company; and negotiator, who negotiates with outside contacts to gain further resources (Bateman & Snell, 2013).

Compliments of Roles

Within every level, you have to have leaders, but the other nine roles can be in any of the three levels depending on skills and knowledge. Someone in the frontline-level of management could be a resource allocator while someone in top-level could be a spokesperson and vice versa. A wise company would give roles and duties based on a manager’s strong skill sets and then help develop him or her into other skill sets.

Also, the three levels are important not only to assign roles, but also to help the company stay organized and even out the work load to be done to keep the company successful. If you only had one level of management, which might work for a mom and pop type of company but not for companies with multiple units or that are middle to large sized, the management team would be responsible for all duties and responsibilities that fall into all three levels. It would be hard to effectively communicate to all units while supervising them and also trying to grow the business so it lasts long time. Each level is needed to keep a focus on a certain area so no area goes neglected. Without top-level focusing on the overall success and growth of the company, there would be no need for the other two levels because the company would fail and everyone would be out of a job – no need for supervisors. Without the middle-level, communication would not flow correctly and things wouldn’t get done. Without the frontline-level, nonmanagement would not be supervised or use the resources correctly. Each level is important to the overall success of the company.


Power: Essential Tool of Management

Just as important to understanding the levels of management so that roles and responsibilities are understood, it also provides power to the individuals holding the positions of management. Power, if used in the correct way, brings respect from those that are nonmangement and also from those that are in lower management positions. There are five forms of power: legitimate, reward, coercive, referent, and expert (Bateman & Snell, 2013). Legitimate power is power of authority (Bateman & Snell, 2013). One holds power because he or she is a boss. An employee or lower manager does what is told by this person because of his or her status, level of responsibilities within the company. The second form is reward power, which allows a manager to reward one for their performance (Bateman & Snell, 2013). This could be a raise and promotion or even a bonus on a paycheck because of doing what was asked. Coercive power is the third and also the opposite of reward power. Just as reward power rewards for good performance, coercive power punishes for poor performance (Bateman & Snell, 2013). When one fails to meet objectives, reprimands are given or poor evaluations are filed. The worst case scenario would be a manager having to fire the employee or lower manager. The fourth type of power is referent, which deals with personalities and characteristics (Bateman & Snell, 2013). If one is a manager who listens and is understanding, employees may be more inclined to follow instruction verses a manager who is rude and does not have time to hear the concerns from employees or lower management. Lastly, is expert power. The more one knows about that which he or she is managing, the more respect and willingness from employees and lower management to do what is asked. If a manager has no clue about what he or she is doing, then the employee or lower manager may lose respect for him or her and also not follow instructions from him or her.

Science of Persuasion

The Art of Power & Persuasion

Power is understood to be a part of having management duties. This power forms a pyramid with the top-level at the top and the very bottom being nonmanagement. The art of persuasion then is for those who are trying to push change from a position that is hirer than theirs. In order to persuade for change, one must understand the art of persuasion and how it fits in with power. One cannot be persuaded unless the person persuading understands how the one needing to be persuaded views his or her power. Therefore, styles of decision-making are important to understand so that lower management or even nonmanagement can persuade upper management to make changes for the best of the company.

There are five types of management decision-making styles: charismatic, thinker, skeptic, follower, and controller (Williams & Miller, 2002). The charismatic style may get excited at first, but will base his or her final decision on information grounded in reality (Williams & Miller, 2002). When trying to persuade a manager with this type of style, one would want to hold back on his or her own excitement, discuss the risks, and focus on results in order to win this manager over (Williams & Miller, 2002).

The thinker tends to play devil’s advocate in the fact that he or she will contradict what is being presented (Williams & Miller, 2002). This type of manager cautiously works through the all the data available about each option and then makes a decision (Williams & Miller, 2002). With this type of manager, one wants to be careful not to draw conclusions for him or her, but to appeal directly to his or her intelligence and just present the information on every angle so the manager can make a wise decision (Williams & Miller, 2002).

The third style type is the skeptic, who is highly suspicious to anything that challenges his or her worldview (Williams & Miller, 2002). This type of manager is aggressive and combative, therefore, one needs to have credibility or someone the skeptic deems credible vouch for him or her (Williams & Miller, 2002). When trying to challenge the skeptic, one needs to tread lightly and give the skeptic room to save face (Williams & Miller, 2002).

Followers are the fourth type of style and the most prominent decision-making style (Williams & Miller, 2002). Decisions are made primarily off of what was decided before, whether from the manager him/herself or from a trusted source (Williams & Miller, 2002). These are the easiest to persuade (Williams & Miller, 2002). When trying to persuade a follower, one wants to make him or her feel confident and direct him or her (Williams & Miller, 2002).

Lastly is the controller, who is also a strong personality type, like the skeptic (Williams & Miller, 2002). The controller, though, sticks to facts and analytics because of fear and uncertainties about the unknown (Williams & Miller, 2002). To persuade a controller, one has to overcome the controller’s internal fear through structured, liner, and creditable arguments filled with details (Williams & Miller, 2002). One must convince the controller to buy into the solution, without selling; hence, supplying information is really the only way to do so (Williams & Miller, 2002). Understanding these styles helps to bring about change within a company while also tipping the outcome a certain way (Williams & Miller, 2002).



Balance comes into a company when power is structured in a way that all know their role and responsibilities while also opening communication so that those with less power can persuade those of higher power of ways change can help bring the company success. Levels of management bring structure and give people a sense of support and stability. Without it, the company would crumble because someone or multiple people would be handling more than they could. Understanding power and its influence can help people bring change through persuasion. The art of power and persuasion brings a healthy balance to a company so that it does not fall prey to dictatorship and fail.


Bateman, T. S. & Snell, S. A. (2013). Management: Leading and collaborating in the competitive world (10th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Williams, G. A. & Miller, R. B. (2002 May). “Change the way you persuade.” Harvard Business Review, 80(5), 65-73. Retrieved from

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© 2015 Amber


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