I have been thinking a lot about power lately. How so many people I work with from front-line customer-facing people to senior executives and government officials think they have little or none. I suspect power is like the grey between the black and white. No one has none. And nearly no one has absolute power. Most of us have something somewhere in the middle. And I’d venture to guess most of us have more than we think.
First, let me be clear about what I mean by power. Coming from a background in sociology, I define power as “the capacity of an individual to influence the conduct (behavior) of others.”
My question for you is what kind of power do you have? Here are three ways to think about it.
Tip 1. What positional power do you have? Positional power is the power that is inherent in a role you play. This is pretty straightforward and probably the kind of power you first thought about. It might be the power to set hours or performance standards at work or to set a curfew for your kids at home. It is specific to the role you inhabit. It’s the power and tools that come with the job. But it’s only one kind of power.
Tip 2. What expert power do you have? Expertise is the power of knowledge. What skill, knowledge or data do you have that enables you to influence decisions?
Tip 3. What relational power do you have? Relational or personal power is the power to inspire action through relationships. It’s built on trust, on respect, on charisma, and it drives collaboration, teamwork and group action. It’s the power that many people underestimate and dismiss but it’s the grease that gets things done. Do your relationships help you drive action?
What works for you? Where might you find a little more power in your efforts? What do you have the power to achieve?