What exactly is ‘power’? People define it in multiple ways: as a fundamental way of behaving in organizations, as a form of personal influence, as a key factor that leads to success; as the manner in which resources are used, as a means of creating dependency on the power wielder, and as an exciting experience.
It’s useful to think in terms of different types of power you’ll encounter in an organization.
- role power-from holding a particular role in an organization from which resources can be used to influence, such as power of authority, power to allocate rewards, power to punish, power to control resources, power of dismissal/demotion, power to change structures, power to coerce, power to arbitrate
- personal impact power-application of individual characteristics like extroversion, charm, physical attractiveness
- reverence power-promoting a mystique whereby the adulation of the leader reaches immortal proportions, can sway opinions and behaviours of others
- numbers game power-using financial and numeric information to influence and control activities of otherscontext power-understanding the nature of particular circumstances, and having the credibility in particular contexts to use that understanding to influence and to re-negotiate agendas
- access power-personal access personally or through networks/third parties to key people to influence them or harness their support
- experience power-requires time spent in org, role or industry in order to appreciate the manner in which decisions are made and implemented, how relationships evolve, and how issues are addressed, and then to use that tacit information to influence people and circumstances
Knowing who has what power and aligning the right power on your side when you need it are traits successful leaders need.