What is power?
Power is the ability to influence people despite their wishes.
We all experience power struggles everyday within our professional, social and family lives. By understanding the nature of power, how to obtain it, use it and retain it we can become more effective and balanced in our dealings with people and organisations.
Understanding where we are powerful and where we are powerless
It is important to understand where we are powerful and when we want to be powerful, we do not need to be powerful in every situation, which means we always have a choice – to be powerful or powerless.
We need to understand our power base so we can maintain it and if we wish to gain power we need to understand the principles of power bases and the routes to power.
It is important to understand that power is never given – “it is seized”!
Power and Authority
We must not confuse power with authority, authority is a name on the door, a title. We may be a monarch or a CEO, it does not necessarily mean that we have power. There are many instances in history where this applies, for example, the power behind the throne, a person or group of individuals who lacked authority but had the ability to influence the authority despite their wishes.
What is your power base?
We should consider where we have power in the family, professionally, and socially. In the family the children have little or no authority but exert a disproportional influence over the day to day decision making of the family as a whole.In our professional lives, are we able to exert influence over all of the factors we supposedly control or are responsible for – would we like to and do we know how to? In our social life do we drive the agenda or do our friends and acquaintances – do we want to drive the agenda?
Different types of power
With every personal encounter we make a choice of whether to be powerful or powerless, by understanding the different types of power base and the routes to installing those power bases we become more effective in achieving our goals and maintaining the status quo we desire.
Is power evil or good?
Both, it depends how it is applied, if we are powerful we have a choice to use our influence for good or evil. If we wish to have a positive influence within the environment we operate in or one that we wish to operate in we will not be able to do so unless we have power.
If we wish to challenge a tyrannical power or wish to impose one, we most certainly will not succeed unless we have power.
Use it or not?
In any situation the choice for being powerful or powerless is ours, however we have no choice of being a subject to the all-pervading daily power struggles which will have an inevitable effect on us whether we like it or not.
To some people power is a drug, which if not managed and moderated it can be corrupting and ultimately damaging to the individuals themselves and those surrounding them. The endurance and viability of a power depends upon which base it is built on. If it is solely built on fear and aggression its life will be limited, if it is built on trust and relationships the foundations are much stronger with a greater longevity and effectiveness.
You and Power
Do you know where you are powerful and why?
Do you know where you would like to be powerful and why?
Do you know if your power bases are threatened?
Do you know how to maintain and protect your power bases?
Do you know how to develop your power bases?
If you cannot answer yes to all of these questions you may wish to talk to us.
This article was a joined effort from Will Marshall and myself. Will is our authority on Power and has been so nice to share his extensive experience on training and coaching on power to the International Institute of Humanization. Have a look at www.humanization.org to see our goals and how you can contribute to the institute by learning with us.