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
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:
Understand what you have, and what you want more of. Cultivate your power bases. Power can be used positively or negatively.
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 power can be very impactful.
And because so many of us listening to this podcast are working managers, meaning you have subject matter expertise and you are leading people, next episode we’ll talk about best practices for honing and thoughtfully applying expert power.
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