In a recent organization development course I was facilitating someone asked the question "How can you challenge a leader if you think he or she is making the wrong decision about an organizational change?"
I get a lot of questions like this and it seems to me that they are really about how to recognize and use your sources of power. Why do OD consultants need to think about their sources of power? There are two main reasons. First, because often OD consultants are of a lower level in the organization's hierarchy as it appears on the organization chart than the managers they are working with. Typically organisational managers and leaders draw on formal authority, control of resources, and use of organisational structure, rules and regulations. Their status and power are signalled in the organization chart. These higher level managers have what is called 'positional power' which gives them certain privileges and responsibilities that the lower level OD consultant does not have. The closer someone is to the top of the chart the more they are perceived to have the right to ask for things and not be challenged or questioned. In these circumstances the OD consultants feel that they must do what the higher level person tells them to do without questioning it.