Power seems to always go the route of power differential, or someone having power over someone. We could see it as a loss of personal power and surrendering to the influence of others. Perhaps just improving our Power/Influence literacy would help understand, exert, and respond to power.
We know there are types of power (based on 2 scholars French & Raven) –
Expert – a certain expertise based on information and knowledge. “Knowledge is power” is more than a cliché…or perhaps it is a cliché…but never-the-less true.
Referent – role models, master/apprentice relationship, or someone we like and respect is afforded power.
Legitimate –power that comes with a role, position, responsibility regardless of the actual person.
Reward – is the privileges one can grant or the “if you’re good you get stuff” approach.
Coercive – is punishment or negative reinforcement.
There is a little more behind the word power than trying to deal with the types and continuum of influence – regardless of delivery or recipient.
I was curious about the Power equation in order to understand the topic, an interesting exercise. Power looks like this Pavg = DW/Dt. Cool stuff, eh?
This might help.
The average power is equal to the change in Work (or Energy) over a certain amount of time. Change in work (let’s just call this energy) is the experience itself. And all of this is going to happen over time, a change from start to finish. This results in average power. Think about this for a minute. The type of power that one exerts (or experiences) could be a combination of the five types, or some variation that averages out the power experience (energy) during some time frame. To the naked eye, it’s just power. Power takes time and depends on the energy (good or bad) we give it.
Power. The dictionary calls it the “ability to do or act.” Synonyms for power are capacity or energy. Capacity is that word ability again. And energy we already defined as work, or actions we exert in some fashion. If everything is a thought before it is an action the same has to be true with power. We have the ability to use our powers for good (and I did try to figure out where this quote came from, but couldn’t find the absolute source). Booker T. Washington said, “Character is power.”
So, we have the influence of power OR the power of influence. Each of us has the ability to determine the amount of influence we exert. The energy, force, or momentum (all parts of power) of our influence is directly related to our average power over time. When we see x2,even if we hated math/algebra, we know it is x-squared. That number (2 here) is power. Here x is the number times the number. That means it is way more than just double. It is like a whole extra person exerting the same energy toward someone or group. That has the potential to be overwhelming or excruciating.
Another quote, this one is from Abraham Lincoln, “Nearly all men [women] can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s [woman’s] character, give him [her] power.” So we have a lot of power when it comes to power….did that make sense? And we haven’t even started to talk about the power we have over ourselves through self-talk – oh wow! that’s another post all together.
There is so much more to power than just an ability to get people to do what you want. How do you use your POWERS for good to create influence and build capacity?