July 18, 2013
The 7 sources of workplace power
People need power. Power means survival, and we are all hard-wired to gravitate to and want power. Even you.
In most modern lives, nowhere is power more important than in the workplace. What? You don't think you have power at work? You do! Yours could be based on a variety of things, including:
Who you know. People with good interpersonal skills -- who know whom to ask for help and who to introduce to whom -- have influence and, therefore, power.
What you know. Earn respect and influence at work by being an expert in something. The person who knows how things work and how to fix them when they don't is a very powerful person.
Charisma. Do people want to do things for you just because they like you? This is called "referent" power. Referent power, based on charisma, is usually something you're born with.
Admiration. If you have an amazing work ethic, if you are responsible and reliable, if you treat colleagues with dignity and respect, people are going to look up to you and want to be like you. That's power, baby.
Fear. Beware! This one can easily twist around and bite you in the behind. In fact, fear-based power is usually best used by not using it (i.e., "speak softly and carry a big stick").
Wealth. Do you set the schedule, control the supplies, make the job assignments? You are rich! But remember -- this power goes away the minute you are no longer in a position to bestow largess.
Position. The obvious kind of power -- you have it because the word "manager" is in your job title. If you do, be a leader worthy of esteem and admiration.
No matter what your role at work, you are entitled to your fair portion of power. So consider how each of these powers might apply to you and -- most of all -- how you can use them for "good."
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
- career profile (170)
- cool jobs (75)
- education and training (66)
- entry level (70)
- etiquette (109)
- events (71)
- featured (447)
- finding your passion (98)
- health care (76)
- interviewing (91)
- job fairs (63)
- management (97)
- market trends (92)
- networking (286)
- resumes (103)
- salary (86)
- social media (95)
- technology (118)
- unemployment (57)
- work/life balance (94)