Power is a natural process in any group or organization, and to perform their jobs effectively, managers need to know how to acquire and use power – the capacity of a leader to influence work actions or decisions. There are five different sources of power for leaders including legitimate, corrective, reward, expert and referent. Why is having power important? It is because power makes you less dependent on others. When a manager has power, he or she is not as dependent on others for critical resources. And if the resources manager controls are important, scarce and non – substitutable, her power will increase because others will be more dependent on her for those resources.
Following eight behaviors if used can be more effective at acquiring and using power.
- Frame arguments in terms of organizational goals
To be effective at acquiring power means camouflaging your self-interests. Discussions over who controls what resources should be framed in terms of the benefits that will accrue to the organization; do not point out how you personally will benefit.
- Develop the right image
If you know your organization’s culture, you already understand what the organization wants and values from its employees in terms of dress, associates to cultivate and those to avoid, whether to appear risk taking or risk aversive, the preferred leadership style, the importance placed to getting along well with others, and so forth. With this knowledge, you’re equipped to project the appropriate image. Because the assessment of your performance isn’t always a fully objective process, you need to pay attention to style as well as substance.
- Gain control of organizational resources
Controlling organizational resources that are scarce and important is a source of power. Knowledge and expertise are particularly effective resources to control. They make you more valuable to the organization and, therefore, more likely to have job security, chances for advancement, and a receptive audience for your ideas.
- Make yourself appear indispensable
Because we’re dealing with appearances rather than objective facts, you can enhance your power by appearing to be indispensable. You don’t really have to be indispensable as long as key people in the organization believe that you are.
- Be visible
If you have a job that brings your accomplishments to the attention of others, that’s great. However, if you don’t have such a job, you’ll want to find ways to let others in the organization know what you’re doing by highlighting successes in routine reports, having satisfied customers relay their appreciation to senior executives, being seen at social functions, being active in your professional associations, and developing powerful allies who speak positively about your accomplishments. Of course, you’ll want to be on the lookout for those projects that will increase your visibility.
- Develop powerful allies
To get power, it helps to have powerful people on your side. Cultivate contacts with potentially influential people above you, at your own level, and at lower organizational levels. These allies often provide you with information that’s otherwise not readily available. In addition, having allies can provide you with a coalition of support if and when you need it.
- Avoid ‘tainted’ members
In almost every organization, there are fringe members whose status is questionable. Their performance and/or loyalty may be suspect. Keep your distance from such individuals.
- Support your boss
Your immediate future is in the hands of your current boss. Because s/he evaluates your performance, you’ll typically want to do whatever is necessary to have your boss on your side. You should make every effort to help your boss succeed, make her look good, support her if she is under siege, and spend the time to find out the criteria she will use to assess your effectiveness. Don’t undermine your boss. And don’t speak negatively about your boss to others.