We All Have More Power Than We Realize

Not all power is positional or based in traditional authority. So the power we have at work is not derived only from our job title or position in the chain of command.

Power and influence at work

In previous posts I wrote about the resource power and relationship power you have at work and how they can help you be more influential. In addition to resource, relationship, and positional power, we have several other sources of power at work. The problem is we don’t always realize the power we have and therefore don’t make use of it. But if we’re aware of our various sources of power, we can use them to become more successful as influencers.

6 Sources of Power

You have six sources of power that you can call on to help you be a more successful influencer. Positional, political, and resource are your three external power sources. Knowledge, relationship, and personal are your internal and lasting sources of power.

Your External Sources of Power

External sources of power are temporary; they come and go depending on the organizational structure, climate and shifts in leadership.

Positional Power gives you authority. This means you have the ability to make decisions and give directives that you can reasonably expect to be carried out by others. This type of power doesn’t guarantee trust or confidence in your ability to lead, lasting cooperation, or positive working relationships. It only affords you the right to expect compliance from those who are under your direct control.

Political Power gives you access. Politics at work is unavoidable and it’s crucial that you participate actively if you want to exercise your power and influence. Remember: politics doesn’t have to mean dirty politics. Read more about why you can’t ignore politics at work, how to understand the political landscape inside your company, and strategies for mastering the political game at work.

Resource Power gives you control. A resource is anything that you have that someone else perceives is valuable. When you control headcount, products, services, knowledge, information, physical space, materials, budget, time, supplies, access and the like you have resource power. Where a resource is perceived to be – or actually is – limited and you’re the main gateway to that resource, your power increases. Read more about your resource power and how to increase it.

Your Internal Sources of Power

Your internal sources of power are your lasting sources of power; they go with you no matter the company you work in or the position you hold. They do not depend on the organizational structure or climate. You’re the one who’s in control of keeping your knowledge current, your relationships strong, and conveying a powerful personal presence.

Knowledge Power gains you respect. This type of power is achieved in more than one way: through the acquisition and demonstrated use of expertise, and by gaining and distributing highly regarded informational and institutional knowledge to the right sources. Read more about how to use your expert, informational, and institutional knowledge here.

Relationship Power gains you exposure. Whether or not you have positional power, you can’t rely on it alone to get you what you want. You instead need to develop relationships at all levels — the strategic alliances and connections necessary for getting your proposals and ideas implemented. Read about why both alliances and connections are crucial to your success at influence, as well as practical steps for how to develop the strategic relationships that are right for you.

Personal Power gives you an advantage. Of your six sources, your personal power is perhaps greater than any other single factor. Why? Because your personal power is that engaging force that attracts people to your words, your ideas, and to you. That combination of assets includes your brand message, your leadership style, and your leadership presence demonstrated in the way you walk, talk, and dress. Consider experiences with people whose personal power is so dynamic that they’re able to persuade anyone to do almost anything, even without the added benefit of other power sources. Increasing your personal power starts with becoming aware of how you’re perceived. I’ll devote a future post to the ins and out of personal power and how to increase yours.

Knowing Your Power Makes a Difference

You’re  managing up, down and across your organization through complex channels with people around the globe. You’re expected to get what you need fast and do it with tact and skill. Because of that, every influence interaction you have is an opportunity to have your opinions considered… or not. When you know the power that’s available to you, there is no need to go into any influence situation believing that you’re powerless or come out of one feeling as if you’ve just given up the power that you had.

Question: Do you have a tip to share about power at work? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com/Sunny studio

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