Sunday, 18 October 2015

Personal Power, Influence and Changing the Status Quo

In most organizations there is a prevailing culture that is either receptive to creative change or resistant to it.  As someone who might wish to influence change that you believe would improve the overall performance and position of your organization, it might help you to know how best to do that.   Everyone has qualities and characteristics upon which you can draw to be a person of influence.  When you know which power sources are the most effective, you can invest more energy and skill in using those sources to effect positive change in your working environment.
Here are eleven power sources for your consideration with a brief definition of each one and then a few questions that might help inform you as to which are the most productive sources in bringing about desired change.  The first five are personal in nature and the second five are more organizational and institutionally related.  The last one, will power, is perhaps the most influential of all as it becomes the fuel and renewable source of energy for all the others.
1.    Knowledge – expertise that differentiates you from others, sometimes advanced study, training and certifications
2.    Expressiveness – how you communicate and verbalize your ideas to others and how they see/hear you and respond
3.    History – built up networks and relationships over time
4.    Attraction – care with appearance, enjoy being with others and vice-versa, charisma
5.    Character – honest, direct, sensitive, with integrity intact
6.    Role – position with some authority and power to affect others
7.    Resource – access to finances and other sources of support
8.    Information – able to present and interpret information others may not have
9.    Network – well-connected inside and outside and maintain important connections with others
10. Reputation – known as someone who gets results, high performing
11. Will – determined through appetite and desire, not easily discouraged, inwardly and outwardly strong
Personal power is relational and depends very much on the context in which you are working. Questions for you to consider include the following:
1.    Which sources of power are most important for you in your defined role in your particular organization?
2.    Which of these sources might you need to develop further in order to enhance and increase your influence?
3.    Which sources are your strengths, i.e. best assets, and how can you capitalize on those?
Much has been written about how to influence others without having the authority to do so.  Jesse Lyn Stoner wrote a short blog, “How to Influence Without Authority” and in addition to her eight portals of influence ( here are three guidelines she puts forth on a strategy for influencing other people.
“Put it out there. Communicate clearly what you want… make sure you’ve been understood correctly.
Be transparent. No hidden agendas. Don’t withhold information… People respect a sincere attempt at influence and resent being manipulated.
Do your best AND be willing to let go. If an appeal to logic doesn’t work, try a different source of influence such as an appeal to values, building a credible network of support, or obtaining financial resources…If you are too attached, you are less likely to be heard. At some point, if you have done your best and have not been successful, you need to let it go.”

The paradox of power, argues Dacher Keltner of Stanford, is this.  “True power requires modesty and empathy not force and coercion and… what people want is social intelligence.”  Many of us were not attuned to advancing ourselves nor promoting self-interest and yet that is exactly what is required if we are to use our personal power to influence others and the organizations where we invest ourselves in order to effect positive change.

Should you wish to attend a Symposium on "Understanding Personal Power" there are still spaces remaining in this workshop/seminar Nov 18-19 in Barcelona.  You may get in touch directly with ECIS in order to register: 

(For some interesting research on personal power, see “The Power Differential and the Power Paradox” by Cedar Barstow)

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