Power Hungry?

Publicado: 4 marzo, 2011 en Uncategorized
Etiquetas:, ,

As discussed in an earlier post, suggested qualities and abilities of a good hospital manager include professionalism, responsibility, honesty, patience, empathy, assertiveness and leadership. I’m sure we all agree on these.

However, what motivates someone to a management position and is this motivation compatible with these qualities?

A fairly recent “survey of 137 major European employers conducted by the international HR consultancy Cubiks found that most managers take on responsibility for managing people because they want greater involvement in company decision-making and not because they are fundamentally interested in managing and developing teams” “The survey found that only 28 per cent said they were interested in staff development and more than half (53 per cent) said that their chief motivation for managing people was to gain greater involvement in company decision-making. Less commonly stated motivations were the prospect of a higher salary and benefits such as a company car (7 per cent) and considering it a step towards greater seniority (6 per cent).”

This survey suggests that the majority of managers are motivated by self-serving factors and not organizational goals. This is in contrast to the common belief that managers’ goals and organization goals are aligned. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

To quote McClellan and Burnham :

“Contrary to popular opinion, the best managers are the ones who like power – and use it.”


The reason that those motivated by desire for power make effective managers is that they understand the role of influencing people, delegation of responsibility and positive reinforcement/improving staff morale. Managers that are motivated by the need to be “liked”, or personal achievement seem to lack this ability and often become disillusioned by managerial roles. Those motivated by personal achievement often end up doing everything themselves, and tend to be more critical in dealings with staff. This is harmful to staff morale and a team environment. The need to be “liked” results in lack of leadership, direction and authority. 

However, having said this, the motivation for power needs to be disciplined and controlled for the benefit of the institution as a whole. Without discipline and control of this motivation the tendency is toward a more authoritarian leader and dissociates personal objectives and institute objectives. The combination of power with control/discipline has been shown to result in the best outcomes for both the individual and the institution in which they are a manager.

Understanding the three different types of motivations for managers allows for self analysis in what motivates ourselves and what role we may best be suited to in an organization. This leads to the possibility of then utilizing each persons’ motivations in structuring an institute or team to maximise each persons’ talents and team outcomes.

And lastly, also raises the possibility that being motivated by “power” may not be such a bad thing when it comes to management.

— MT —

  1. lacarave dice:

    It’s a great post. Congratulations.
    Usually, the role of “power” in health organizations is ignored. But it’s essential.


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