It probably comes as no surprise that the most popular post on HR Bartender is 7 Types of Power in the Workplace. The topic of power is not only fascinating but incredibly challenging. Power is one of those things that, as individuals, we aren’t always comfortable admitting we have.
Truth is…we all have power. It’s all in recognizing what kind we have. So we use it properly.
Bestowed forms of power are given to us. Earned forms of power are related to who we are as an individual.
When a person abuses or misuses their power, it’s immediately recognized. Trust and confidence in the person is damaged. But what about the opposite? Try to identify a person you know who uses their power well and at the appropriate times.
If we think about the 7 types, power comes to us in two ways:
Bestowed forms of power are given to us. They’re usually based upon our position or title. Or they may be granted to us in terms of who we have access to in the company or what actions we are able to authorize (based upon our position.) For example, as a human resources director, I was able to authorize payroll to cut a manual check for an employee. That was something I had the power to do based upon my title within the company.
Earned forms of power are related to who we are as an individual. Or what we know in terms of expertise and information. It’s less about title/position and more about what we know. Like the recent focus group I participated in on HR and social media – it’s not about my job as a training consultant but my expertise as an HR pro and a blogger. During those meetings I was able to have a voice (aka power) toward suggesting changes for a new community network being developed.
When faced with a situation, ask yourself the following two questions:
- What action would I like to take?
- Do I have the power to make it happen?
If the answer to both questions is yes, then it’s a good use of the power that you’ve either earned or have been given to you. If not, then ask yourself if there’s a way to align with a person who does have the power you need to make it happen.
Just because we’ve all experienced the person on a power trip, doesn’t mean power has to be scary or avoided. Using power the right way is the sign of a good management.
Image courtesy of Nancy Newell [simutis]