This is “Career Growth: Power Positioning and Power Sources”, section 13.1 from the book Beginning Human Relations (v. 1.0).
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Remember our ongoing discussion on emotional intelligence skills and their necessity for career success? Here is how emotional intelligence skills tie into our chapter on career success.
Throughout this book, we have discussed the factors that create good human relations with our work relationships and personal relationships. When you started reading this book, you learned how your personality, attitude, and self-esteem could impact your human relations with other people. We also talked about the following:
With an understanding and practice in all of these areas, we can become successful people in our careers. This is the focus of the chapter—the skills it takes to be productive individuals through positive human relations. The first step is developing an understanding of how we can use power both at work and in our personal life.
Understanding power and power structure in our organizations can assist us in being more successful in our career. PowerRefers to our ability to influence others and convince them to do what we want them to do. refers to our ability to influence others and convince them to do what we want them to do. Power is different than influence, in that influenceThe application of the power we have to get people to do what we want them to do. is the application of the power we have to get people to do what we want them to do. Although it may seem this only applies to managers, we all use power in a variety of ways, both in our personal and professional lives. For example, Abbey may use her power to convince Amy they should have sushi for dinner tonight, but that doesn’t mean that Amy thinks it is the right thing to do. It isn’t until Abbey uses her influence that Amy agrees to eat sushi. Please keep in mind that power is not a negative thing if used in the correct way. Power and influence, ultimately, are what allow things to get done in our organizations.Mind Tools Website. (n.d.). French and Raven’s five forms of power, accessed March 12, 2012, http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_56.htm Whether or not we are leaders in our organization, power can come in many forms. A study by John French and Bertram Raven in 1959 identified the ways leaders can influence others.French, J. R. P., & Raven, B. (1959). The bases of social power. In D. Cartwright & A. Zander (Eds.). Group dynamics. New York: Harper & Row. They include the following:
Again, we feel it is important to point out there is nothing wrong with utilizing power to make things happen; the concern is when an individual is power-compulsive. Power compulsiveA person’s personality has a lust for power and may use power for personal gain. means the person’s personality has a lust for power and may use it for personal gain. This is the opposite of the power-shyA personality characteristic of someone who prefers not to be in charge of things and is not comfortable using power. personality, who prefers not to be in charge of things and is not comfortable using power. Power-shy individuals may not be positive either, in that at some point, people must be willing to use power to make decisions. Keep in mind, we all use power, no matter what title we hold at work.
Managers may use various types of power depending on the person they are trying to influence. This figure shows some of the strategies used for influence.
Source: David Kipnis et al., “Patterns of Managerial Influence: Shotgun Managers, Tacticians, and Bystanders,” Organizational Dynamics 12, no. 3 (New York: American Management Association, 1984), 62.
As mentioned earlier, the idea of “power” often seems negative, but we can use power in an appropriate way when getting ahead in our organizations. This is called power positionThe use of power in an appropriate way when getting ahead in an organization.. Power position comes from the concept of feng shui, where the power position is the physical position in the room for a business meeting. In this position, the person can see all entrances to the room and is seated against a wall. Because of this, they are said to be the center of attention and thus in the power position. Our meaning here refers to your ability to use conscientious techniques that can lead to personal and professional organizational growth; these also happen to be the characteristics needed for career success, and we can tie into emotional intelligence. Techniques that may help increase your power position at work include the following:
This somewhat silly (with typos) video shows the types of power.
In addition to the techniques, we can think about position power as a set of behaviors we exhibit on a daily basis. These five behaviors can help us increase our power position at work. We can think about the acronym POWER to remember these behaviors:Dawson, J. (2007–8) What good leaders do. ADI Performance website, accessed March 13, 2012, http://www.adiperformance.com/08/pub_article03.html
Having an understanding of the types of power and how to improve your own power position at work can increase your human relations at work and, therefore, your success—and probably make work more enjoyable, too!