From “star system” to “goat pen” …

Tonight, Shelton led our “Ropes” discussion, which was essentially a number of chapters discussing power, formal and informal, within an organization. Shelton described upward mobility in the terms of a marathon versus a tennis tournament; in a marathon, as long as you can finish, your successful in completing the marathon. In a tennis tournament, once you lose, you’re out. He then shared with us a number of examples where he had watched people that had been identified as stars in organization, but then, as things do, something happened in the organization that tarnished the star and put them in the “goat pen.”

We spent some time discussing the different sources of power, including examples of the informal power, such as an administrative assistant who, because of proximity to leadership, has access to information, gatekeeper authority, and a perceived level of power.

One of the examples, in chapter 47, talks about how people’s reputations can be placed in the balance when they’ve recommended someone for a job and that person is not performing to expectations.

In another example, in chapter 48, the author discusses the perils of working in an organization where a family calls the shots, and people who are related to the leaders get the choice jobs.

Shelton shared with us the example of a manager in an organization who is no longer on the career ladder, and therefore can take a stance were in the past they would have been forced to be compliant. In this instance, in chapter 50, Ben Franklyn simply refuses to attend and 8 o’clock meeting on a Friday night and knows that there will be no repercussions.

In chapter 52, people at The Company simply cannot bring themselves to ask Mr. Marsh what he meant by this statement ” exercise on this” … consequently, the staff go through unnecessary turmoil trying to make their best guess as to what Mr. Marsh actually needed.