Enthusiastic and committed managers strive to get things done by exerting influence, a process that involves the use of power. If you have power, you can influence the behaviour of others and get people to do what you want them to do. Normally power should come with the job; but you can gain it by other means. Here are some of the ways in which you can accumulate power in your organisation…

1. Gain control by moving into a position of power.

Seek promotion. Power and influence are normally part and parcel of the formal authority vested in a senior managerial position. But remember that, as well as using your recognised title and role in the organisation, you may need to bolster this legitimate coercive power with other forces to increase your influence over others…

2. Gain control over resources.

You will gain additional power over others if you are in a position to approve their requests for essential resources such as money, equipment, space, staffing, transportation, or facilities.

3. Gain control over the flow of information.

People rely on access to information to do their jobs; so the more you know about what’s going on, the better you can decide how to use that information to influence others. Find out what is going on through formal channels and through your own informal network. Get yourself on to the right committees and distribution lists. And if you know what’s going on behind the scenes by accumulating privileged information, all the better: you can act far more effectively than those who are not in the know.

4. Gain power by possessing knowledge.

Expert power can be yours when others choose to act as you suggest because they acknowledge that you know more than they do. So build your knowledge of matters technical or professional, or of the running of the organisation, so that others rely on your expertise and defer to your judgement.

5. Gain power by establishing credibility.

You can build up the trust of your employees and colleagues and, in time, their dependence, by earning a reputation as a performer, one who delivers, and who keeps promises.

6. Gain power by doing others a favour or two.

Get others to feel obligated to you in some way so that gratitude is a natural consequence. Good managers can do so without any sinister Mafia-type underpinnings – because it’s good business and makes sense. Usually the organisation benefits from such favours, but remember that you can also gain influence over others by doing them a good turn or two.

7. Develop strong links with other people with power.

One of the smart organisational strategies is to get to know the boss’s personal assistant well – because that person has the boss’s ear and is, for that reason alone, in a position of power. Why? Power comes from having direct access to someone with power. Proximity or a direct line to the powerful obviously gives you more scope to exert influence, direct or perceived. So develop close links yourself by:

  • identifying your organisation’s opinion leaders and power brokers – and they’re not all higher level people. What would these people welcome in terms of ‘favours’ (help with a project, more resources, respect, etc.)?
  • providing such favours if doing so is not being unethical or disloyal to colleagues.
  • antagonising no one unless some greater purpose is at stake.

8. Gain influence through the power of your personality.

If you have a powerful physique or a deep and resonant voice that unnerves or even intimidates others, you are well on the way to having others defer to your wishes. But nature has blessed few of us in that way. You can influence others, however, if you possess or develop some kind of charisma or self-confidence or sense of mission that persuades colleagues and employees to agree with you. Try to make yourself personally compatible with people at all levels in your organisation. And, if necessary, create the illusion of power by attending to the way you look, dress, and furbish your office. The company you keep is also important.

9. Do some thinking…

  • List the sources of power in your organisation – don’t merely study an organisation chart – and find ways of tapping into that reservoir.
  • Think about using some of the power you already have to accumulate more.
  • Consider joining unofficial networks (such as clubs or social groups) in your organisation so that, through involvement, you can build a personal support base.

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