There is no doubt that at some point in your career, you will encounter people who will use malicious, sneaky or rude ways to get ahead. Last week we discussed how to spot these moves as well as how to diffuse them. This week, in continuation of our series on The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle by Dr. Reardon, we will be exploring how you can create positional power, and how it will help you become more politically savvy.
As Dr. Reardon states, power is not an owned entity, but rather it materializes through interactions between people. In fact, it is so embedded in most daily interactions that only the most observant notice the frequency, and impact, of its presence. There are a few consequences of this; firstly, this means that power is relationally defined, and secondly, it means that power is negotiable. Both of these aspects of power are promising, as they mean that power can be attained by anyone.
The Power in Perception
One of the more significant aspects of power is in perceiving that you have it, or could get it. Part of this involves defining your role as active participant, and not that of victim, regardless of the situation. Remember: power is created in the process of “perceiving and relating to others” (Reardon 150).
Positional and Personal Power
There are two primary types of power: positional and personal. Positional power relates to how much formal power others think that you have. Personal power, on the other hand, has to do with traits and styles of acting, like charisma and integrity.
How to Increase Your Positional Power
It is one thing to have positional power that is based solely on your authority or status within your corporation, however there is an entirely different kind of power that comes when people truly respect you – aim for this type!
Different Sources of Power
- The power of relevance
Being relevant is a way to develop power simply based on the skills you possess within your company. If they are in line with the priorities of the company, this makes you more relevant, and hence more powerful.
- The power of centrality
This type of power comes when you occupy central positions in important networks. If information has to flow through you to get to others, you are in a central position.
- The power of autonomy
This type of power has to do with having the discretion to exercise your own judgment on the job.
Since power is relational, power within organizations has to do with access to people, events and conversations. This may at first appear intimidating, however you must remember that it is in fact a good thing, as it means you can increase your power simply by conversing with others. Acting upon these suggestions will surely increase your power, albeit not overnight; just like Executive Presence, attaining power is not an event, it’s a process. Be patient yet proactive, and the power will come!
Reardon, Kathleen Kelley. The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle.New York: Doubleday, 2001. Print.