Everyone has power. Power is defined as the ability to influence another person. Power can be the ability to influence a coworker, family member, friend or all of the above. There are many dynamics of how a person has and uses power and I’ll outline the way that it pertains to the workplace.
Many might think that the only person who has power in the workplace is the boss, but that’s not true. There are many instances where employees might have more power than the boss. For example, picture a manager who knows how to manage people but is new to the company. The employees that know there job and the company well actually have knowledge power over the supervisor. The supervisor would be completely lost if the employees quit. Power does not only come from authority and below I’ll outline the different types of power so you can understand the dynamic.
- Reward Power is when a person has the ability to control rewards for individuals. Examples of this are how senior managers can control the amount of benefits you receive. This can also be applied to a situation where you and a coworker need to work cooperatively to coordinate your days off.
- Coercive Power is when a person has the ability to cause an upleasant experience for someone if they don’t do what the coercer wants. An example is a coworker that can hold knowledge of something you did or said that not many people know about.
- Legitimate Power is power based on position. This is the supervisor/employee type of power.
- Referent Power is when a person wants to be like or liked by someone so the person held in high standards has power over the other. This type of power is usually attributed to very charming people/personalities.
- Expert Power is based on knowledge. A person has expert power when they have more expertise in a subject area than others.
It’s important to understand the different types of power because it’s important to know when you have power. Being aware of your power dynamic in situations can be valuable when knowing the right time to ask for a raise, voice concerns, or provide feedback. Everyone has power so make sure to use yours wisely.