To some, the word power is a four letter word, in other words, a dirty word. Power just means the ability to accomplish work. Power exists and failure to acknowledge it, can prove disastrous. Some people who know they have power may avoid being members of work teams. Others with power may try to unduly exert that power if they are a member of a team. What powers do you have?
Power is typically associated with the movers and shakers of the world, like the Donald Trumps, the Warren Buffets or the executives in a corporation. Yes, these types all have power. Does the CEO have more power than a VP just because he or she is the CEO? In most cases, probably yes. However, there are times and circumstances when someone else’s power might trump the CEO’s power. Let’s take a look at the type of powers you might see and use on a daily basis.
Expertise or What You Know Let’s say you are excellent at negotiation and the CEO is not. You might be called into the trenches to land the next big deal with your negotiation skills. You have the power - at least for the "moment." Having information or expertise can also be used in power plays to embarrass, surprise or frustrate someone.
Who You Know The idea that it’s not what you know, it’s who you know has been around for a long time and is still true. Of course, with social media, it has become who knows you. You might know someone who has power over the CEO and you get what you want by going over the CEO’s head. This is done at your own peril.
Body Language When it comes to power, this is the new power kid on the block. According to Dr. Amy Cuddy, Social Psychologist and a Harvard Professor, you can actually increase your power through body language. The studies she has conducted also indicate that you can reduce your stress levels through these same exercises. For more information on this, watch her talk on Ted.com Some of the body positons can be done “in public”, but one must be done in private unless you want to look like a total dork and completely lose any hope of ever having any power again.
Procedural Power This may appear to be a type of expertise such as I know a time saving procedure and you don’t. However, this refers to a political type or a Senator who has the power to refuse to hold a hearing. Think about the times that a team member or someone else in the organization has refused or been slow in holding a meeting or withheld approval on something you need.
Sanction Power Have you ever been passed over for a promotion? Yeah, me too. What or better yet who do you think might have been behind such a decision? You weren’t sanctioned, but who was and what was the connection with the one who does have the power of sanction?
Habitual Power These are the status quo types. NO CHANGES! To them, life is so much easier staying the same. These are the folks that refuse to introduce or take part in cutting edge technology, new ideas, different processes or innovative new products. Nope, not gonna’ happen.
So you see, teams have collective power and each person on the team has power. So here are a few questions. What is your power? How will you use that power? Will you use it to throw a wrench in progress or will you use for the good of the team and the organization? Remember, power in and of itself is not bad. The power of power is in the hands of the one possessing it and using it for good of or the determent of the team.