Learn More About Julie Battilana
“Power” doesn’t have to be a dirty word. According to Harvard Professor Julie Battilana, “When people understand power, they can be more effective leaders and change makers – and power can be learned.”
Battilana’s research shows that with the right tools to analyze and map power relationships, leaders and managers can have more impact in their organizations.
“Power is the ability to influence other people’s behavior, but what I like to say is this is a definition of power that’s not an explanation,” explains Battilana. “People have deep misconceptions about power. I help individuals at all levels of organizations understand the fundamentals of power, where power comes from, and how to channel and democratize it within their organizations.”
With joint appointments as the Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration in the Organizational Behavior unit at Harvard Business School (HBS) and the Alan L. Gleitsman Professor of Social Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), and as the founder and faculty chair of the Social Innovation + Change Initiative, Battilana is uniquely positioned to understand power and influence from both business and policy perspectives. Her regular contributions to publications, including Academy of Management Journal, Harvard Business Review, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and others, focus on empowering innovative thinking and change with new, more balanced dynamics within organizations pursuing multiple objectives.
“In my research, I’ve found that organizations relying on more democratic governance may balance multiple goals, including environmental and social ones, more ably,” Battilana relates. “We can create more democratized outcomes, opportunity and success for those who may have been disadvantaged by previous societal power hierarchies by studying key interventions and decisions by change makers.”
By examining the possibilities of divergent change within the existing organization and creating conditions that enable individuals to initiate change and scale their social impact, Battilana – who co-chairs an executive education program for the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship – advises leaders on the structures and management systems that organizations in each sector ought to adopt.
Battilana is the author of two critically acclaimed books focused on how we can reframe existing social structures to expand opportunities for power and change. Her award-winning book, “Power, for All: How It Really Works and Why It’s Everyone’s Business” (Simon & Schuster, August 2021), co-authored with Tiziana Casciaro, offers a timely, democratized vision of power. Based on 20 years of research and more than 100 interviews with a diverse cast of change makers from across the world, the book argues that power is energy that anyone, not solely those at the top of an organization, can harness to make their lives, work and societies better. Her latest book, “Democratize Work: The Case for Reorganizing the Economy,” co-authored by Isabelle Ferreras and Dominique Méda (University of Chicago Press, May 2022), provides a roadmap for rethinking our social and economic systems for a more just, greener and fairer tomorrow.
By lifting the veil on power, Battilana’s work helps individuals at all levels of organizations understand and navigate power in their relationships, organizations and society, and see power not as a dirty business, but instead a positive force that can be used for good.
Professor Julie Battilana is the Joseph C. Wilson Professor of Business Administration in the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School and the Alan L. Gleitsman Professor of Social Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School, where she is also the founder and faculty chair of the Social Innovation + Change Initiative. She currently teaches the second-year Power and Influence course at HBS and HKS, in addition to chairing an executive education program for the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. Her articles are published in Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Business Ethics, Leadership Quarterly Management, Management Science, Organization, Organization Science, Organization Studies, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Strategic Organization. Her research has been featured in publications such as Bloomberg, Businessweek, Forbes, Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, and The Guardian. She was previously a regular contributor to the French newspaper Le Monde. Battilana’s second book, “Democratize Work: The Case for Reorganizing the Economy,” was originally published in French as “Le Manifeste Travail by Le Seuil” (2020).
A native of France, Battilana earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and economics, a master’s in political sociology and a master’s in organizational sociology and public policy from École Normale Supérieure de Cachan. She also holds a degree from HEC Business School, a joint Ph.D. in organizational behavior from INSEAD and in management and economics from École Normale Supérieure Paris-Saclay.
Julie Battilana is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person meetings, interactive workshops, and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
Becoming Effective Change Makers
Introducing change in organizations and in society can prove very challenging. Numerous studies show that people tend to instinctively oppose such initiatives because they diverge from well-established norms and disrupt existing power structures. At the same time, much of their resistance is not overt, or even conscious. Change makers must infer people’s attitudes, and then work to bring them on board. Some leaders do succeed — often spectacularly — at transforming their organizations, communities or sectors of society. But what makes one manager triumph in a situation when the vast majority would fail? Existing models of change management provide only partial answers as to why the results are so variable.
In this interactive session, Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School Professor Julie Battilana invites audiences to investigate what successful change agents do differently. By studying power fundamentals and misconceptions, participants learn that the key to successfully implementing change is understanding power, then effectively wielding their own influence with others. Participants discuss the fundamentals of power, debunk common myths surrounding it and learn how to harness power for positive impact in their lives and in the world. By explaining what power is and what it is not, as well as how to identify your own sources of power, this discussion helps participants understand and navigate power in their relationships, organizations and society, and allows them to view power not as dirty business, but instead a positive force for good.