Your 6 Sources of Power at Work

Why and How to Use Them

Power is often seen as a dirty word. It evokes the idea of bosses and underlings. But the meaning of power we’re talking about here is not “power over others” — we’re talking about power in the sense of the ability to do, to act, and to accomplish.

There are 6 types of power available to you at work regardless of where you sit in the hierarchy. Understanding all 6 of your power sources and how to leverage them in the workplace is crucial to being effective in your role and being a successful influencer. 

Use Your 3 Internal Sources of Power

Tap into your internal, lasting sources of power. They go with you no matter the company you work in or your job position. They do not depend on the organizational structure or climate. You’re in control of keeping your knowledge current, your relationships strong, and conveying a powerful personal presence.

  1. Knowledge Power gains you respect. When you acquire or demonstrate expertise, you can achieve knowledge power. Gaining and distributing highly regarded information and institutional knowledge to the right sources is another way to achieve this power. Explore how to use your expert, informational, and institutional knowledge.
  2. Relationship Power gains you exposure. You can’t rely on positional power alone to get you what you want. Instead, develop relationships at all levels. Strategic alliances and connections will get your proposals and ideas off the ground. Find out why both alliances and connections are crucial to your success at influence, as well as practical steps for developing strategic relationships that are right for you.
  3. Personal Power gives you an advantage. Your personal power attracts people to your words, your ideas, and to you. That combination of assets includes your brand message, your leadership style, and your leadership presence. This is demonstrated in the way you walk, talk, and dress. From Martin Luther King, Jr. to Michelle Obama to Steve Jobs, there are people whose personal power is so dynamic that they’re able to persuade anyone to do almost anything. Increasing your personal power begins with awareness of how you’re perceived.

Use Your 3 External Power Sources

Unlike internal power, external sources of power are temporary. They come and go depending on the organizational structure, climate and shifts in leadership but are still critical to be aware of and tap into.

  1. Positional Power gives you authority. This power source grants you the ability to make decisions and give directives that will be carried out by others. While this power doesn’t guarantee trust or confidence in your ability to lead or create positive working relationships, it affords you the right to expect compliance from those who are under your direct control.
  2. Political Power gives you access. Politics at work is unavoidable. It’s crucial that you participate actively if you want to exercise your power and influence. Remember: politics doesn’t have be dirty. Find out why you can’t ignore politics at work, how to understand the political landscape inside your company, and strategies for mastering the political game at work.
  3. Resource Power gives you control. Resources are anything that you have that someone else perceives as valuable. These can include headcount, products, services, knowledge, information, physical space, materials, budget, time, supplies and access. Where a resource is perceived to be – or actually is – limited and you’re the main gateway to that resource, your power increases. Discover your resource power and how to increase it.

Knowing your sources of power will result in you getting your opinions considered. You are far from powerless. In fact, by exploring, honing and accessing your power, you can stride confidently into any influence situation.

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