Power. What does it mean? If you don’t naturally possess it, can you attain it? How will increasing your power help you access the secret handshake? There are two full chapters in The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle by Dr. Reardon that are dedicated to power, which is indicative of its significance within this context. In our last post, we explored how to create positional power. One of the major takeaways last week was the notion that power is created amongst interactions between people. This week’s focus is on enhancing the power you already possess. Personal power, in relation to positional power, consists of traits and skills that make individuals influential. What makes you influential?
- The power of expertise (Reardon 165)
According to Dr. Reardon, if you would like to reach powerful positions, then of course expertise is necessary, however you must not forget that just because you know you have expertise, others might not. Dr. Reardon suggests reminding people how good you are (in a non-conceited, polite way of course!).
- The power of dedication (Reardon 167)
If you do not have power, a great way to “get some” is to show your dedication to the company you work for. However don’t get too ahead of yourself and take this to the extreme – there’s a line and it can certainly be crossed. To get the most bang for your buck, so to speak, pay attention to the signs of dedication that seem to be important to your superiors.
- Creating a positive impression (Reardon 170)
The more others perceive you in a positive light, the more power it will appear that you have.
- Stretching the envelope (Reardon 171)
Impressions are more powerful, and accessible, than reality. Those are wise old words from Machiavelli himself. These age-old words still hold true today. Impression management, according to Dr. Reardon, is a “personal power tactic” (171). Pay attention to your surroundings, and take what you see into account when creating your professional image.
- Confidence quotient (Reardon 173)
Confidence is a key ingredient in personal power, however one must be careful not to overdo it.
Jim O’Toole, research professor at the Center for Effective Organizations, says that people who are likely to reach leadership positions know that “the more power you give away, the more you have” (Reardon 176). It follows, then, that when you’ve achieved a more powerful state, don’t hoard it all to yourself! The more you give, the more you get. Put these ideas into practice, and see how much more powerful you can become!
Reardon, Kathleen Kelley. The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle.New York: Doubleday, 2001. Print.