(Originally published on the OUBS Blog)
Influence occurs when a person or a group affects what another person or group does and/or thinks.
Power is the potential or capacity of a person or group to influence other people or groups.
Authority is one particular kind of power given to an individual or group.
Power depends on the relationship and the success of using power will depend on the values that you have to offer and the trust and respect in you.
Power also could derive from difference, i.e. a needed specialist.
Power depends on the belief and not on what you actually have at your disposal.
Power is never one sided and other peoples power should not be viewed as negative.
Power is contextual as in the fact that your potential to influence depends on the context of the relationship.
- Sources of Power
Classic framework from French and Raven (1960). There are different power bases (sources of power):
- Position and authority: your position entitles you to do certain things, backed by rules, regulations and resources. This is mostly not over people but over tasks and functions that need to be performed.
- Control of resources: Control of any resources is important within and between companies. To reduce peopleâ€™s power of you reduce your dependence on their resources.
- Social connections: â€œItâ€™s now what you know but who you know thatâ€™s important.â€? Your capacity to influence will depend on your ability to gather information and mobilise resources and support
- Expertise: being an expert. This is most acceptable but your expertise needs to be recognised. Technical knowledge is about a product or service. Process knowledge is about how to get things done.
- Control of information: people who control information are often called gatekeepers.
- Personal characteristics: colleaguesâ€™ respect, loyalty and trust. Charisma or respect for the integrity, judgement and consideration of someone who is influential behind the scenes.
You are often driven by a mixture of them. Remember that your sources of power will vary from situation to situation.
- Influence strategies â€“ the six Ps
The use of position: influence others by using the authority of your position. Your position to impose rules and procedures.
Push strategies attempt to influence by imposing or threatening to impose costs on your target. This will depend on your position and the resources you control and might lead to a climate of fear and distrust.
Pull (reward) strategies are the basis of theories of motivation and depends on the reward being desired and fair. Praise and recognition are often used.
Persuasion is the achievement of influence through appeals to reason. You can draw on your expertise and control of information and the delivery of the argument is important. This is the preferred option because people will do what you want because they believe in what you are trying to do. But avoid assuming that other people share your values, see things like you do and that they are wrong if they disagree.
Preparatory strategies prepare the ground for future attempts at influence possibly by trying to build a positive relationship.
Preventive strategies are for preventing certain action, such as stopping questions being raised, holding back info or suppressing dissent. The danger is that if they are revealed they can lead to a breakdown of openness and trust.
You need to use your power responsibly and the influence you find acceptable will depend on your own values and weather those you are trying to affect find your influence strategies acceptable. You should think of your relationship and the unwritten psychological contract.
- The nature of your authority and influence
- Your style of management
- Reward and punishment
- Your contribution