How Effective Are You at Using Your Power?

Power is a good thing when used effectively.

The more power you have, the more able you are to direct, influence, and inspire people to make positive changes.

There are three types of power.

Position Power

You gain power based on your formal position in the organization. The chain of command gives you power over the people below.

Position power allows you to do the following:

  • Reward and Recognize People—Dole out desirable things to employees such as pay increases, bonuses, promotions, public recognition, time off, and opportunities to attend top-tier training programs.
  • Discipline People—When people don’t complete assignments, meet expectations, or make required changes, you can administer discipline (verbal and written warnings), withhold pay raises, reduce salaries, and assign unpleasant tasks.
  • Gain Access to people at your level in the organization. They can provide useful information and additional resources.

Tips for gaining and using your position power.

  1. Be a top performer. Producing great results gets you noticed. It can lead to promotions and increased position power.
  2. Use both rewards and punishments to motivate people and reinforce your standards.
  3. Be fair and consistent; don’t play favorites.
  4. Share relevant information with your team members to help them see the big picture and make effective decisions.

Expert Power

You listen to your car mechanic, doctor, and accountant because of their expertise. You follow their instructions, because you trust and value their advice.

In a similar way, you can become an expert in one or two business areas that are valued by your organization. For example, becoming an expert in strategic planning, leading change, building great teams, mentoring, career management, and business analytics will increase your power.

You will be called upon to diagnose problems, offer solutions, and explain things in a way everyone understands.

However, becoming an expert requires focus, hard work, and dedication. It takes attending classes and seminars, reading books and articles, conducting research, watching videos, and speaking with experts in your field.

Tips for gaining and using your expertise.

  1. Acquire degrees, certifications, and other credentials that reinforce your qualifications as an expert.
  2. Speak at conferences, write articles, and conduct seminars.
  3. Keep up-to-date in your expertise.
  4. Build your reputation as the “go-to” person in your area of expertise.

Personal Power

Leaders with personal power are often described as having charisma. They make a great first impression and have excellent interpersonal skills.

You can build your personal power by being warm, friendly, sociable, confident, and optimistic.

Get comfortable in your own skin so you’re willing to openly share your beliefs, values, and feelings.

Build a network of influential people from inside and outside your organization. Use your network to get things done.

Tips for gaining and using your personal power

  1. Increase your self-awareness.
  2. Give people your full, undivided attention. Become a great listener.   
  3. Maintain optimistic and positive body language.
  4. Develop your ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Improve your empathy.

Increasing your Power

  • Identify one action you will take to gain more power and one action you will take to use your power more effectively.
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