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Power, management, managers and Bill Gates’ advice to managers

Updated on January 8, 2012


Power in social structures measures the legal ability authority has to control others.

Power can be good or evil, just or unjust.

In the corporate environment power to control is giving to managers, who’s power could be downwards in order to control subordinates or/and upwards to influence the decisions of superior managers.

Professor of politics and sociology and former President of the Committee for the History of Sociology of the International Sociological Association, Steven Lukes' most famous academic theory is that of the "three faces of power", which states that authority control people in three ways -

  1. Decision-making power – the power to make policy decisions after widespread consultation with all parties involved,
  2. Non decision-making power – the power to control the agenda of meetings and debates,
  3. Ideological power – the power to influence people’s wishes and wants.

These three views of Lukes’ are discussed in his book, “Power: A Radical View.” He presents certain criteria to be considered for measuring the effectiveness and level of power for a given group or individual. He also offers a Third Dimension as his own view of the shortcomings of other views previously postulated and a more appropriate way to assess power.

Relationship is the word that describes the balance of power between parties. All parties have power, though the power of one party could be subordinate to the other. In the relationship between employer and employee the dominating power is that of the employer or his representative.

Sociologist don’t use the word ‘power’ in relationships in which the parties have relatively equal or nearly equal power, but the word ‘constraint’. This defines power as a unilateralism, implying that parties should conduct their foreign affairs individualistically without the involvement of other parties.

In small corporations a manager may have the power of control over more than one department in the corporation.

Five bases of power

A schema of sources of power by which to analyze how power plays work, or fail to work, in a specific relationship was developed by the social psychologists John R. P. French and Bertram Raven in 1959. According to them power is fundamentally relative and should be distinguished from influence in several ways, making power that state of affairs which holds in a given relationship, such that a given influence attempt by one party over the other make desired chances more likely.

They give five significant categories of power –

  1. Positional power, also known as "legitimate power" – the power of an individual within an organization relative to his duties. This is the most obvious and also the most important kind of power.
  2. Referent power - the power or ability of individuals to attract others and build loyalty. This is based on the charisma and interpersonal skills of the power holder. This is the second least obvious power, but the most effective.
  3. Expert power is the power of an individual - power deriving from the skills or expertise of the individual and the organization's needs for them.
  4. Reward power - depends on the ability of the holder of power to confer ‘rewards’ such as benefits, desired gifts, promotions, increases in pay and also responsibilities. This power is obvious but ineffective if misused. People who abuse reward power can become pushy, intimidating, abusive, too forthcoming, arrogant, short-sighted, and eventually responsible for the downfall of an organization. The same abuse is possible in
  5. Coercive power - which is the application of negative influences, including the ability to demote or withhold other rewards. This is probably the most obvious but least effective form of power, as it provokes resentment in the people who experience it.

Psychological research proved that –

  • The more power a manager (or governing body) has, the less empathy s/he has for subordinates. 

  • Powerful people are more likely to take positive or negative action regardless of the wishes and desires of subordinates. 


Management is the act of getting people together in order to accomplish desired goals and objectives and to utilize available resources effectively.

Another definition of management: The organization and coordination of activities in accordance with specific policies, procedures and objectives.

Mary Parker Follett (1868–1933) defines management as “the art of getting things done through people".

Management from the perspective of Henri Fayol (1841-1925) consists of six functions -forecasting, planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating, controlling/monitoring. He was one of the most influential contributors to modern concepts of management.

In the corporate world directors and managers have the power and responsibility to make decisions and to manage. The size of management can range from one person to hundreds, depending on the size and structure of an organization.

To be effective in management

the following actions is of the utmost important –

  • All policies, strategies and procedures must be discussed with all managerial personnel and members of staff and regularly reviewed.
  • Implementation of the policies and strategies of an organization is the task of all managers.
  • Plans of actions must be devised for all departments.
  • Assessments of progress should be analyzed regularly.
  • A good environment and team spirit has to be built and maintain within the business.

An eight-step plan of action was established by John P. Kotter: Increase urgency, get the vision right, communicate the buy-in, empower action, create short-term wins, don't let up, and make change stick.


Pareto principle

The Pareto principle – the 80-20 rule – is the 'law of the vital few', also called the ‘principle of factor sparsity’. It is named after the economist Vilfredo Pareto who observed that 80% of the land in Italy belonged to 20% of its people, and 80% of his pea-crop comes from 20% of the pea-plants in his garden. In business this is also known as the common ‘Rule of Thumb’.


  • 80% of our sales comes from 20% of our clients;
  • 80% of our success comes from 20% of the efforts we put in;
  • 80% of crime is committed by 20% of the population;
  • 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes.

It can also be reversed –

  • 20% of all clients/staff cause 80% of our headaches;
  • 20% of our worries cause 80% of our ulcers.
  • 20% of our shortcomings cause 80% of our failures.
  • 20% of our debtors are responsible for 80% of our bad debts.

Obviously we have to identify the 20% and regard that as our first priority to promote, stimulate, feed, maintain, eliminate.... or whatever it needs to improve our success.


In the corporate environment power are given by a governing body (board of directors) to managers in a structured order. There could be several types of managers in the structure -

· The executive manager, director, or chief executive officer - controlling the institution through sub-managers such as -

· Managers of departments,

· General managers - managing both the revenue and cost elements of an organization,

· Operation or productive managers,

· Project managers for specific projects,

· And many others such as managers of human resources, strategic planning, marketing, finance and information technology.

The hierarchy of management

of a large organization may have about five levels:

1. Top management – executive in nature and responsible for strategic decisions.

2. Middle management – specialists in certain managerial tasks and responsible for carrying out decisions made by top-level management.

3. Low-level management (supervisors and team leaders) – make only short term decisions in accordance with decisions of top- and middle management while ensuring that all decisions are carried out.

4. Foreman – supervising the working force.

5. Rank and File responsibilities are more restricted than those of the foreman.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Bill Gates of Microsoft is without doubt one of the greatest living managers in the world.  


If you have any questions you would like him to answer, you can send them to

He gives lots of advice to managers @

Some winged words -  


  • "As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others." ~ Bill Gates.
  • "Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one." ~ Bill Gates.
  • "I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act." ~ Bill Gates.
  • "If you can't make it good, at least make it look good." ~ Bill Gates.
  • "Life is not fair; get used to it." ~ Bill Gates.
  • "Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose." ~ Bill Gates.
  • "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." ~ Bill Gates.


© Martie Coetser-Pozyn


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    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      prasetio30 – it is always so nice to see you in my corner. I’m so glad you regard this hub about power, management and managers as worthwhile for you to know, my friend, because you write about so many awesome topics I would never have learned on my own. Thanks for the delightful compliment :)))

    • prasetio30 profile image


      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Nice information, Martie. I thought Bill Gates was inspired many people to get their success. Well done, my friend. I learn much from you. I love your new avatar, you looks so cute and beautiful. Take care!

      Blessing and hugs,

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Micky - Indeed, lots and lots to study... I think things start to go wrong when we stop studying... Thanks for the visit, my friend! Take care!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      There's a lot of psychology to study too. Great job Martie!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      katiem2 – We are all, in some way or another, victims of Power, Management and Managers. Knowledge is power, therefore we are all perfectly able to understand the Power that tries to control us, and to protect ourselves against it. Thanks for the visit!

    • katiem2 profile image

      Katie McMurray 

      8 years ago from Westerville

      Now this is very helpful and timely as the time to seize the moment and with a burning desire refusing to settle for anything else is crucial.

      Focus is a must. I agree with your outline of power management managers and Bill Gates, good facts to focus on and believe in!

      Well Done! :) Katie

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      ImChemist - Welcome in my corner. Thanks for rating and voting. Much appreciated. Tot weersiens!

    • ImChemist profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice hub , rated and voted up.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      A.A. Zavala – I must, before I thank you out of the depths of my broken heart for giving me such an important job, I must, yes, compliment you for obeying Bill Gates 20 verse 22 – You may not give good news before bad news. All that is bad must precede what is good so that the Promise of Happy Endings may be kept in time.

      Thanks A.A. Zavala, you are officially my hero of the day :)))))

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Martie, as for the vacancy you speak of, I'm sorry to say it's been filled. I'm glad to say that you've already filled it! Making your employee of the century plaque now!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      always exploring – Bill Gates is indeed an extraordinary person and a role model for each and everyone in all sectors. We in SA also have a highly respectable and admirable role model – Nelson Mandela. Is it not amazing that every single generation produces its own heroes... legends never to be forgotten. Thanks for the visit, Ruby! I’ll see you soon.

      *** A.A. Zavala – I love impressive titles for common issues :))))) It’s like handles hanging above the quicksand in which we are sinking. I appreciate in particular your approval of this hub, sir, and I’m patting myself proudly on the shoulder because you even waved in on facebook –

      Ummm, I was wondering... do you perhaps have a vacancy for a Jack of all trades but master of none?

      Thanks for reading and commenting A.A. I always-always appreciate your comments. Only best wishes from me to you.

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Martie, thank you for the short,concise course in Industrial Psychology. Voted up, bookmarked, and faved on facebook. Thanks again for the insight.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      8 years ago from Southern Illinois

      What a great informative hub. Bill Gates is a very giving man, his helpful deeds are well known throughout the world. He sets an example for all to see. Thank you.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Amy Becherer – Undercover Boss is not yet in SA, but I hope it will soon be here. One of my favorite quotes – and I can’t remember whose words it was – You don’t know what another person’s work entails before you perform it yourself.

      I believe the origin of negative attitudes and resentment lies in the fact that employees are told what to do when and how by managers who don’t have a clue what, when and how it should be done in practice. Personally I don’t like hierarchical systems. I believe every employee, including managers, should work on the same level, performing their distinct duties in clusters. I would like to see all employees as the partners of the employer. The tea-girl deserves as much respect as the manager, because she is just as important for the company as the manager. Perhaps easier replaceable... says who? Thanks for the visit, Amy, and for telling me about ‘Undercover Boss’. Take care.

      *** tonymac04 – Ek hoop jy voel sommer baie beter teen die tyd dat jy hierdie lees. I realize that most members of HubPages don’t need to read articles about power, management and managers, for they are independent writers and/or in established businesses, so I target searchers-of-info via Google and other search-engines, and of course those eager-learners at Stumble Upon and Twitter. When I Google-search this title as it is, this article pops UP first, but, of course, searchers will use only keywords. Thanks for reading and commenting my friend. Your comments always mean a lot to me. Selfs dié wat jy gee terwyl jy nie alte lekker voel nie. Take care, Tony. Eat your veggies! :))))

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Excellent Hub, Martie. Thanks for sharing all this useful info. I enjoy reading about how different people see power. (Jammer, dis bietjie laat en ek voel nie so lekker nie! So my thoughts are not too coherent right now!)

      Love and peace


    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Very indepth, comprehensive article, Martie, that everyone in management needs to read. It made me think about a new program "Undercover Boss" where the CEO of a company goes undercover and works incognito with the hands on employees of his company. It is an eye-opening, sweat inducing wakeup call for the CEO. I always end up in tears at the revelation of real life struggles by the employees, yet their unwavering dedication and sometimes revealing ideas to make the company better, comprise this program. The CEO learns the difficulties in each position and (since it's TV) there is always a happy ending; sometimes a college fund is awarded, a raise, a paid in full surprise vacation or honeymoon, assistance with devastating medical issues, significant help with a mortgage...the stuff that dreams are made changing gifts by grateful, enlightened management. What a perfect win/win concept. I hope managers across the globe are watching. Thank you, Martie, as I can see you know this complicated information can produce life altering consequences. If handled properly, good; if not, devastating, both with impact on the employee and corporation.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      prasetio30 – Thanks for reading and commenting. I think you are in the perfect position to follow Bill Gates – you can develop your private school into a large school with many teachers and students, can’t you? What prevent you from doing it? Just a thought of mine, prasetio, and maybe worthwhile for you to ponder. God bless and enjoy the rest of your weekend too.

      *** thougtforce – I always appreciate your visits and comments. What I’ve learnt in my life is that power is a kind of entity – a monster-like thing with its own distinct existence, living inside us. When we open the gate of its cave, it enforces the ego and enables the ego to overpower our intellect/mind/knowledge/wisdom - It may become the master of our entire self-esteem, and could, eventually, destroy our true selves. I’ll explain this perception of mine in detail in my next hub about power, management and managers. I like you real name – Tina – it suits you perfectly. I’ll see you soon in your corner.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 

      8 years ago from Sweden

      As always a brilliant hub from you! There is much to say about power and it is so important to handle power the right way! It was sad to read that increased power leads to less empathy! When that happened to someone with power, it is a failure. You can’t afford to have sympathy as a boss because you can not take on your employees all burdens, but some empathy is needed!

      You have done an excellent job in this hub with great advices, and the advice from Bill Gates is great. I love this hub, if I ever get in the position where I have power I will remember this! Take care my friend! Tina

    • prasetio30 profile image


      8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      This was a great hub. Very inspirational. I learn much from you. I love your tips and everything related with power management. Bill Gates is good example for us. From high dedication he got good achievement for his live. We must follow his step to get success. Vote up. God bless you and have a nice weekend.

      Love and peace,

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      epigramman – my dearest praise singer, hahahaha!

      You are the air

      my deflated ego hungers,

      the healing balm

      my broken heart demands -

      pack your bag I’m sending my pilot today to fetch you.

      Hahahaha! Thanks for making me laugh out loud. You are precious! Take care!

      BTW – where on earth is your country called ‘a place of imagination and intrigue’?

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      drbj – I’ve just mailed you a zillion golden pennies because you’ve added some powerful quotes to this hub of mine about power. You know I love quotes, but for this hub I decided to use only Bill Gate’s powerful advice. (Let’s have a toast on bribery... Oh my word, there I blew it! Now everyone knows I pay you in your capacity as rector of FU to enhance my hubs with pieces of your Einstein-mind.)

      Seriously, drbj, currently I’m between the sharp teeth of Power, and I can confess that it does make us arrogant, too sure of ourselves and our knowledge, too courageous, too blind to see the abyss right in front of us. It bereaves us from empathy, insight and foresight, and worse of all of our ability to be righteous. It seems to me that Power is the bricks (of clay) we need to build our own tower of Babilon...

      Eventually, in this series of hubs about power, management and managers, I will dissect the devastating power of Power. It seems to me, my friend, I have to live/experience in person the truths of this life in order to understand it properly. God knows what I’m supposed to do with it?

      Thank you so much, drbj, your comments on my writings are more precious to me than a thousand-thirty-eleven zillion golden pennies.

      *** BobbiRant – My hat off to Bill Gates, for investing his money, knowledge and wisdom in children and their education. With respect I wonder in what manner power is corrupting him -from this perspective I can’t see any signs of corruption. It is soooo sad to know that Power is a cancer in our souls. Thanks my friend, you know I appreciate your continuous support sincerely. Take care!

    • epigramman profile image


      8 years ago

      ..well you 'empower' me like no other hubber/hubbette - if sex appeal were the equivalent of supreme intelligence, candor, wit and charm, and in this case - an awesome display of how to put a hub together and enlighten people then you would be the hottest woman alive - but then again, me already know dat!!!!!!

    • BobbiRant profile image


      8 years ago from New York

      I like what Bill Gates is doing to try and get kids a better education in America. He has a school that pays good teachers big money as long as those kids do well. They are educating kids from the worst part of some ghettos. He knows how to manage and sell, that's for sure. Great hub.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      This is an excellent well-written compendium of the categories of power, Martie, as well as Bill Gates' advice to managers which should be memorized by every person who has ever had or hopes to have power in an organization.

      Lord Acton was right on the mark when he said, "Power corrupts. And absolute power corrupts absolutely."

      Also Charles De Gaulle who said, "Silence is the ultimate weapon of power." (Any woman knows that one instinctively).

      And my own personal favorite - Sir Francis Bacon who said: "Knowledge itself is power." I can attest to that!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      WillStarr – So true. Though it seems to me that most managers believe they are too important to search for the right strings to pull in the useless. They rather use the useless as practice pads to force upon authority, or as scapegoats. Thanks for being the first to comment on this hub, WillStarr. Your support is much appreciated. Take care!

      *** Darlene Sabella – thanks for the lovely compliment... I grabbed it with both hands because coming from you it is truly special. Take care, dear Darski; I wish you (and your daughter) only the best.

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Bravo Martie I love this hub, it's excellent, I also agree with these principles, they have been said a thousand times in a thousand ways, yet you write it best....rate up up love & peace your friend darski

    • WillStarr profile image


      8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      A good manager can get the useless to perform.


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