There are two types of power in business – positional (i.e. the authority vested in you based on your position) and personal power.

While the use of positional power is sometimes necessary, an overuse of it will quickly erode one’s personal power, leading to a dictatorial style of management.

For this reason even senior leaders need to learn to influence without the use of authority. Personal (non-authority) power can be developed by focusing in two areas:

• Relationships: People tend to have an easier time adopting ideas of people they like. So look for ways to build relationships at every turn. Attend to the little things, apologize to people, don’t forget what you have promised and recognize others for what they do and who they are.

• Expertise: Before people will adopt your ideas, they need to believe that you are credible. So do your homework, get the facts, talk to the experts and do whatever you can to learn about all parts of the organization, not just your own.

There is a paradox between these two points. Attempting to “be right” all the time to avoid being perceived as anything but an expert can actually harm relationships! People will perceive you as an expert based on the credibility of what you say, not because of statements such as “I have a PhD in Sociology and you don’t”.

Next time we’ll look at managing up. Stay tuned!

Russel Horwitz, Principal