The UK chief executive officer (CEO) of a large insurance firm
faced declining gross written premiums (revenue) in her commercial
division. In workshops, her senior managers determined that their
work came alive when they appeared on emergency sites to distribute
checks. She challenged them, ''Let's treat customers that way all
the time and sell more.'' When they wrote vague proposals to care
for customers in sales, she hired consultants. Then she missed her
profit numbers; the Group CEO fired her.
The consultants continued on and executed her vision. She failed
to exercise political power, but did she fail in any of the basics
Jeffrey Pfeffer lists in his classic work on power? Did she fail to
have a compelling vision? to achieve buy-in? to detail the threat?
to have a good power map of the organization? to cultivate
relationships with allies and the Group CEO?
She executed the basics of power well. But she worked in a
fearful organization where managers instinctively shunned the
limelight by pointing to others' weaknesses. Her managers would
casually let slip that her plans might not save profitability.
Those casual slips silently became the Group CEO's defining
Read the full 'Transforming
Crippling Company Politics' article by Charles Spinosa,
Christopher Davis, Billy Glennon.