One morning, in the forest, a lion had a hearty breakfast and was feeling really good with a full stomach. So he caught hold of a rabbit that was passing by and asked him, “Hey rabbit, tell me, who is the king of the Jungle?” “Oh master, you of course you.” The lion felt really good. Then he caught hold of a fox and the same thing happened. Similarly, he caught hold of a few little creatures and they all sang in the same tune. Now, while the lion was feeling really, really good and swaggering through the forest, he came across a huge tusker elephant.
He went to the tusker and said, “Hey tusker, tell me, who is the king of the jungle?” The tusker picked the lion up and smashed him to the ground, breaking the lion’s back. With a painful back, the lion limped around and said, “Why didn’t you just tell me?” The tusker replied, “I had to make my point.”
So what kind of power works in corporate jungle, if you want to influence others? The concept of power in the workforce has a negative connotation. Dictionary.com defines power as “a person or thing that possesses or exercises authority or influence. Having power provides benefits that help you implement change.
Leadership is Influence and if you want to influence someone you need to harness different sources of individual power.
Hundreds of years back human-beings used physical power to influence others, which is irrelevant in 21st century. Let us discuss different power sources you can develop at work place to influence others.
Points of Power
Power of Position or legitimate power. It is the power you have because of the position or the job role you have in an organization. This is the easiest way to influence others, people respect and listen to you because of the position you hold. I read somewhere ‘The best leaders are those who have position power and never have to use it.
Power of Image It is based on your charisma and interpersonal skills. You will be admired because of specific personal trait or attributes, and this admiration creates the opportunity for interpersonal influence. Even though it’s a personal trait there are ways of improving your presence in social situations. There are books and other resources on image makeover, power dressing, grooming, body language, etiquette etc which will help you to take greater control over the impressions you create.
Power of Values or Character our values and ethics guide our behavior at work place. When practiced personal values like integrity, accountability, perseverance, discipline etc can give you an edge over others during tough situations. Core values of the leaders of an organization shapes the culture of that organization. The best leaders exhibit both their values and their ethics in their leadership style and actions. People trust leaders who walk the talk and it increases their personal power.
Power of Competence or Expert power is your power deriving from the skills expertise or experience you have in your domain. You have probably heard the saying, “Knowledge is power”. When you demonstrate expertise and deliver results people will trust and respect you. As a subject matter expert and as an outstanding performer your ideas will have more value, and others will look to you for leadership in your chosen area.
I love this quote from NR Narayana Murthy, “Performance leads to recognition. Recognition brings respect. Respect enhances power. Humility and grace in one’s moments of power enhances dignity of an organization”
Power of Passion When you are passionate about something, when you are driven by a purpose and when you have a clear vision, it gives you tremendous power as a leader. It energizes and engages people around you, promotes creativity and innovation, and people will love to work with you.
Power of Connections. A friend in need is a friend indeed at workplace. People support people not because it’s part of their KRA , in most situations because of the person who asked help. Management is the art of getting work done through people and if you are good in building rapport and positive relationship with people at work, things will get done faster. People are influenced by people they like. As you expand your network of relationships, your power will grow, because there are more sources of knowledge and resources for you to draw upon when you need them.
Power of Association – If your profile has any prestigious institute tags or if you have work experience in any major corporations, it will have an impact on people around you. People perceive you differently because of your background. It can also be your association with powerful people in the organization. If you are a smoking buddy of the vice president of the organization, you will have more power than your non-smoking colleague in the team. Your relationships with those who have authority increase your own power.
Power of Giving. It refers to the degree to which the individual can give others rewards, benefits, or appreciations. If we look at studies on motivation there is lot of emphasis on the power of rewards and appreciations at work place. If you are generous in praising people, you can influence them positively. One more dimension of giving is helping or supporting people voluntarily.Social psychologists call it The Law of Reciprocity – and it basically says that when someone does something nice for you, you will have a deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice in return. As a matter of fact, you may even reciprocate with a gesture far more generous than their original good deed.
Power of Spirit. I recently interacted with an external facilitator who was in his sixties, he came to deliver a specialized workshop in our organization. He reminded me of some spiritual master when I first met him in the reception .When we started talking, it was very obvious that he has a strong spiritual inclination. He was a powerful facilitator, and the session was very impactful. I assume that his spiritual practices must have given him the kind of confidence he possess and amazing clarity of thought while interacting with the audience. It is very evident in autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi and biographies of other world leaders and successful people that they all have harnessed the power of spiritualty to influence others
Unleashing Your Points of Power
An interesting activity is to list down the number of situations where you feel you have the power to influence outcomes or people. Next step is to categorize the type of power you have in that scenario and develop a strategy to improve your individual power. It’s important to realize that power exists in all of us. It’s also possible that you have different types of power with different groups or situations.
Take advantage of the points of power where you are strong. Use your power in a positive way to do more good for yourself and for people around you.
May the force be with you always!