Intentional Leaders Podcast with Cyndi Wentland

Understand Your Superpowers

May 03, 2022 Episode 68
Intentional Leaders Podcast with Cyndi Wentland
Understand Your Superpowers
Show Notes

If you are a leader, you have power. If you are an aspiring leader, or informal leader, you will need it.

Power is about influence. It is about achieving results.

Sometimes it difficult to consider power without thinking of politics. Here are some thoughts from Art Petty:

Unavoidable Facts of Organizational Life

  1. Everywhere humans gather, a political environment emerges.
  2. In every political environment, some individuals develop more influence than others.
  3. Those who have the most influence decide what gets done and who does what.
  4. Influence doesn’t accrue accidentally—it takes deliberate effort to cultivate the right relationships.

Back in 1959, two social psychologists John French and Bertram Raven studied and identified 5 bases of power. 

This was followed by Raven's subsequent addition in 1965 of a sixth separate and distinct base of power: informational power. And I’m going to add one more, because in the era of social media, I think there is power in the connections we have with one and other.

French and Raven defined social influence as "a change in the belief, attitude, or behavior of a person (the target of influence) which results from the action of another person (an influencing agent)", and they defined social power as the potential for such influence, that is, the ability of the agent to bring about such a change using available resources. 

This means getting s#@&* done.

Here are the types of Positional/Formal power:
1. Legitimate
2. Reward 
3. Coercive

Personal/Informal power:
4.  Expert
5. Referent
6. Informational
7. Connection

Understand what you have, and what you want more of. Cultivate your power bases. Power can be used positively or negatively. 

Negative Examples:

  • Legitimate power = relying on status to get compliance; do it because I said so, implied threat
  • Reward = get when you give, or I withhold until you do
  • Coercive = embarrassing others in a meeting, yelling publicly
  • Expert = withholding information to retain status or security in the role; not changing as work standards change, becoming biases in knowledge from past experiences
  • Referent = using charm and likability to get what is needed in a way that manipulates others OR excludes others
  • Informational = sharing confidential information to “build trust” with someone else; withholding information that can be shared but is not
  • Connection power = being a name dropper, using a connection with someone who has power to manipulate or pressure someone else

Part of understanding these power bases is knowing what your superpowers are. You always have power, it’s a matter of knowing what it is, how to strengthen it and how to get more of it. To the extent you want to lead, you will need to focus on power. As I said power is influence. 

If you’re early on in your career, and an aspiring manager or leader—lean into your interpersonal skills. Referent power, or likability can go a long way to building rapport, trust and credibility. In fact, Susan Fiske, Amy Cuddy and Peter Glick did research on how we form impressions and the two areas that were identified (across 37 countries) were warmth and competence. So the combination of referent and expert powe

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