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Mar 18, 2019 in Articles

Linda Annette Hill “Exercising Influence" Harvard Business School


The article reveals the stereotypes of management and identity of the personality of a manager. The article is devoted to studying the actual and due influence of power through the use of high positions in management. Critical review highlights the main mistakes in perception of power as the tools for achievement of all ambitious goals of a manager. The main point is that power is not always converted in influence and that networks should be cultivated in the relationships with colleagues.

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Myth and Reality

The current part of the article compares particular myths related to a manager’s position and its anomalous perception and execution. The author indicates the fact that inexperienced employees in top management are full of simplistic expectations. They are ambitious and self-motivated. The article outlined that the managerial role provides them with particular privileges due to the power and influence inherent to managerial powers (Hill 1).

Management of human, material, and non-material resources imposes new inexperienced employees to the temptation of power and illusion of the influence. The author appeals to the idea that any manager is endowed with the formal influence, but not every manifestation of influence is associated with management. Thus, Hill tried to demonstrate that the formal position of a manager does not provide absolute impact of the employee on his/her subordinates and top management.

Being assigned to a new job place, newcomers can be guided by their ambitious and frivolous beliefs about how to control with influence. In many cases, such position is losing, because the autocratic management style is not accompanied with the employees' motivation and job satisfaction. The mistake of a young manager is to use a single management style regardless of the circumstances and characteristics of the team. The opinion that the manager does not do anything, but only distributes the tasks is very wrong. Involvement in the work and delivery of personal results are the clear examples to be followed by all team members. Therefore, choosing the wrong management style is a great error of a manager.

The choice of proper management style should be conditioned by the team peculiarities and the results to be achieved. Working situations are different. The use of authoritarian management style may induce reluctance of discontent, even fear of the subordinates, as well as disrespect regarding a young manager. Nevertheless, directive style should be used in a situation of conflict and stress. Sharing the power and influence with the subordinates would not be considered as a sign of weakness and indecision, unless it is used in appropriate situations, such as managing people. The teamwork is seemed to be the most effective use of democratic style, which includes the following elements: joint decision-making and taking into account the opinion of the majority, space for new ideas, encouragement instead of punishment, etc. At the same time, professional manager should be able to use all styles of management upon necessity.

New forces, perfectionism, and the energy of young managers lead their desire to influence people and results. However, the absence or lack of leadership skills results in the wrong choice of a different management style by such managers and resistance to the reality of managerial practice. Daily work tends to influence the performance of the new managers, especially when they face the difficulties of managerial practice. When their expectations regarding the exercise of power collide with the real circumstances hampering the progressive features of the initiated innovations, managers begin to realize that the formal power of authorities does not guarantee success.

Resistance of the subordinates to initiated changes influences the decisions of a manager much greater than his/her own directives. The author recommends developing the ability to use influence and power without relying on formal authority, but creating reliable and trustful relationships with the employees (Hill 3). In such way, the manager provides the support for employees, who are ready to accept his/her influence. The article draws attention to the concept of empowerment that serves as an opportunity to share power and acquire new supporters. Such paradox is disclosed in the article. If the manager shares his/her power and influence with subordinates, he/she executes a greater impact on them and raises their motivation more than just a one-sided and single influence.

Hill states that the most difficult lesson for new managers is to realize that leadership position does not guarantee the respect and obedience. In the process of management, actions play more important role than words. If a manager shows a high level of competence and demonstrates high personal skills, he/she will gain the respect of the subordinates without making mush efforts.

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The author emphasized the importance of teambuilding skills of a manager that is an urgent aspect of the entrepreneurial activity of modern companies (Hill 3). Such necessity is caused by the tendencies of business to expand in new countries and strategically collaborate with customers, suppliers, competitors in order to form new alliances and clusters. Therefore, new economic approach to business requires network-building capacities and appropriate talents of managers as the basic criteria of their efficiency.

Comparison of common myths and their realistic reflection supplements the research paper. Thus, Hill outlines that the basic guidelines for modern young managers are authority, while the most beneficial option is interdependency (10). Key players in the relationships between employee and employer are subordinates. It should be considered while taking the subordinates outside the framework of formal authority of a manager. Among the core competencies, a manager should distinguish conceptual and human aspects instead of technical ones. Therefore, desired outcomes will be long-term empowerment and commitment, rather than compliance and control that would be accepted by the subordinates only in short-term.

Exchange Approach

Creation of networks within operating environment is important and essential part of managerial work performance. Mutual relationship relies on reciprocity between the subordinates with less influence and a manager as their supervisor with more power. Hill provides the research point of view of such relationship through the prism of exchange. Thus, the execution of influence and power is performed by the managers in exchange to the perception and services of his/her subordinates. Application of currencies determines such mutual influence (Hill 4). Efficient manager considers the employee on whom he/she will be dependent as particular allies that should be considered in building advanced and beneficial alliances in order to offer them favorable conditions and power in exchange of their services.

The author simplified the concept with her own opinion. A manager will be efficient in network-building only in case he/she has more offerings for the subordinates regarding the interested area. The more a manager inputs in the development of friendly and trustful relationships with the employees, the more advances and benefits he/she experiences in the form of feedback.

Cultivation of Network

Basing on the theory of currencies, a manager should determine the appropriate target audiences to execute his/her influence. Gradual following of the highlighted steps allows the manager to reach the needed level of network. Such steps represent a list of questions addressed to a manager regarding the participants of cooperation, the employees on compliance, and issues distracting from work accomplishment. The answers form the model of dependencies constituting various orders (Hill 4).

The author of the article introduced the idea that such dependencies are changed under the decisions of both a manager and his/her supervisor (Hill 4). Therefore, overestimation of dependencies is better than their underestimation. The next block of questions refers to the differences between a manager and the people on whom he/she is dependent on. The current part of analysis determines a range of resources for exchange with the selected people in order to make beneficial decisions and negotiations.

Assessment of the relationships’ quality is performed through the questions on the type of relationship and probability of sharing the credibility and trust. Such features of mutual cooperation invoke the desire of subordinates to participate in the influence executing. The findings recover the intentions and opportunity for a manager to build and effective and trustful network. At this part of the article, Hill raised the issues of important role of credibility and trust in the network of a manager and his/her subordinates (Hill 4).

The subordinates need credibility and trust from managers to better adapt to the organizational requirements and the disclosure of their potential. Mutual trust between management and staff is the basis for understanding and agreement that determine the motivation to advance. Moreover, it is an indispensable condition for teamwork.

In the context of modern management, the dilemma of "trust-mistrust" is not so much important as an optimal degree of credibility conducive to risk reduction for effective performance in specific contexts (Hill 6). It is particularly relevant in the period of preparation and implementation of organizational changes, as the atmosphere of reciprocity supported and guided by managers and subordinates, promotes the optimal use of existing potential of the company. Credibility largely determines the final impact of organizational changes.


The current part of the article determined the important fact of networks. Effective networks should be mutually beneficial for all parties of collaboration, the employees, and their manager as s supervisor. Hill emphasized that exchange may be altered in particular way, if a target audience is looking for the resources that only a manager may offer. Therefore, exchanges may be altered over time, but they still have to be based on equitability and fairness.

Hill noted that equitable attitude addressed the fair quality relationship between the subordinates and a supervisor based on guidance and good treatment (Hill 7). One of the essential and important aspects of recommendations is the rules developed intentionally for a manager to avoid the abusive effects of power application. Such rules include the long-term perspectives, the ways of improvement, reliance on demonstration of formal power, constraints on a manager’s power and influence, the cases of influence execution, and orientation on means instead of on ends.

Reflection on a Reader

The article is useful for determining the role of a manager, the quality characteristics of its behavior with other participants of the work processes, the level of trust between them, and level of effective cooperation. The assumption on influence as an independent phenomenon emerging in the practice of management was reinforced with the evidences. It significantly increased the chance of success for a reader-manager, as well as comprehension and trust of a reader-subordinate.

The important features of the article are its simplicity of comprehension, versatility of recommendations, and practical approach to the issue. The author provides the assumptions, which plays an important role in the creation of the design of work characteristics for each reader.


The article reflects the role of formal influence and actual application in managerial practice. The author focuses on the fact that young managers can misbalance their formal power. Creation of trust and honest relationships is the key factor to efficient network in an organization. Recommendations developed in the article are of great practical importance both for a manager and for an ordinary reader.

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