“You’ve got the power”
Even without a big fancy title, you have monumental power in the workplace. You just need to understand where your source of power lies. Everyone–from the CEO to the mail room clerk–has five sources of power to draw from to get things done and get ahead. According to Bob Nelson, author of “1001 Ways to Take Initiative At Work” (Workman), they are:
Personal power. This includes your charisma, the strength of your convictions, your desire to achieve and your ability to communicate and inspire others.
Relationship power. You gain this from the people you meet and the relationships you develop and maintain in your work. This includes the people you work with who let you know what’s going on in various parts of the company and help you when you need assistance, as well as the top brass who you get to know and eventually seek you out for special projects.
You develop relationship power in many ways. But at the core, it’s about whether someone likes you. People like people who share their attitudes.
Position power. This corresponds to where you sit in your company’s organizational chart. Obviously, the higher up you are in a company, the more of this type of power you have. By your mere position, you command authority.
Even when someone may not actually have position power, if they look as though they do, they can command power. For example, business suits act as authority symbols, says Harry Mills, author of “Artful Persuasion” (Amacom). He cites an experiment in which a man deliberately crossed the street against the traffic light. When he was wearing a pinstripe business suit and tie, three-and-a-half times as many people followed him than when he was just wearing a work shirt and pants.
But without relationship and personal power, this only goes so far. We’ve all seen the CEO who may have the title (and the suit), but can’t seem to get things done and doesn’t know what’s really going on at the company.
Knowledge power. This is based on the particular expertise that you have. Say, for example, that you are a marketing whiz who knows how to create a kick-butt marketing plan–which is what clients want. You’re the only one who has this particular know-how, or is the best at it, in your company. You have a lot of knowledge power.
Task power. This comes from the jobs you’re assigned. Some jobs are inherently more important to the health of the organization than others, says Nelson. Take salespeople, who make money by selling a product or service. They usually have high task power.
You can go a long way when you understand the psychology of power. Start by using your source of power to your advantage. And create a plan to cultivate the areas that need improving.