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Power... A Critical Success Factor

A Definition

The ability of a person or group to influence the thoughts or behaviour of another person or group, so that he/she or they do something they would not otherwise do, assuming that the recipients of the power have some personal discretion over what they do.

The Five Types or Points of Power

1) Legitimate, Authority, Position, Access to Formal Communication... (THE BOSS IN ALL HIS OR HER VARIOUS POSITIONS OR FORMS)

2) Expert, Knowledge, Technical Superiority, Communication Skill, Task or Job... (THE MIS MANAGER & THE HEAD OF ENGINEERING)

3) Coercive, Fear, Take Away, Negative Control of Resources or Information... (PURCHASING, FINANCIAL CONTROL & THE HR DIRECTOR)

4) Referent, Personal Attractiveness, Relationship, Groups, Charisma, Sex... (THE BOSS'S SECRETARY, THE TOP SALESPERSON, THE LOVELY YOUNG THING FROM PR AND THE OFFICE STUD)

5) Reward, Positive Control of Resources or Information, Money, Benefits... (THE BOSS, THE SUPERVISOR, THE PROJECT MANAGER and MOST OF THE ABOVE)

To be truly "powerful" all five groups should be used, reliance on one or two areas alone will ultimately lead to loss of power i.e. authority can be withdrawn, knowledge becomes outdated, fear creates subversion, we all get old (and ugly) and our ability to reward can be hampered by the vagaries of the business climate and company edicts.


Personalized power infers that only the POWER USER will benefit and if used a negative impact on the receivers will occur.

Socialized use of power is when the receiver perceives both the power user AND THE RECEIVER will benefit and is more likely to gain acceptance and a positive outcome. Note - the recipient of power will always be the one who decides if the power user is using socialized or personalized power.


The receiver's relationship or dependency on the holder of power is only effective when the holder posses something that the receiver wants. The more dependant the receiver is the greater the power of the holder. Critical to dependency are; the importance of what is controlled, the scarcity of the resource and the potential for substitutes or alternatives. (i.e. scarcity of jobs, limited chances of promotion, total salary allocation, ability to increase budgets, staff resources control, purchasing budgets and funds for R & D).

You may like to read a few tips on how to grab the power (get a promotion) 12 Tips on How to Get a Promotion.

Copyright orglearn - Richard Townsend 2008-2014