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Last week we talked about Charles Handy’s Gods of Management Theory and the role of culture in the workplace. This week we explore the theory in further detail by exploring the Zeus Culture.

Zeus Culture, also known as Club Culture or Power Culture, is the first in Handy’s Gods of Management Theory. Handy uses a spider’s web to represent the club culture, with Zeus as the spider occupying the central position and then weaving his web around him of people who share his ideas and outlook. The lines of the spider’s web that emanate from the centre are the lines of power and influence and their importance diminishes the further they are from the centre. The relationship with the spider matters more in this culture than any formal title or position description.

There are few procedures and rules of a formal kind and there is a heavy reliance on individuals rather than committees. The individual is valued, given a free rein and performance is rewarded based on results. The managers in this type of culture can sometimes be partial to someone or the other and paternalism is common. Hence, people who are power oriented, politically minded and who take risks are attracted to this culture and thrive on it.

The balancing element to the centralisation, and perhaps autocracy, is the lack of needless bureaucracy. Handy maintains that this type of culture is excellent for its “speedy decisions” and can respond quickly to events and changes in the environment. However, the quality of the decisions is dependent on the perception and ability of Zeus and his inner circle; succession is a critical issue. Power culture is usually associated with entrepreneurial business structures and in extreme cases can be a dictatorship.

– Fauzia Kerai Khan
The writer is Chief Consultant, i&b Consulting, Training, eLearning. fauzia@iandbconsulting.com.

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on October 21, 2012.

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