Power versus Influence

Have you given any thought lately to power versus influence…direct authority versus facilitated agreement.  What’s really the difference?  What makes one side of this equation work so differently than the other?

It is often the nature of power in society that some win and some lose.  To work from a position of power often allows for disregard of others’ positions, feelings, or even thoughts on matters of impact or importance to them.  Old sayings offer us some insight into the issue of power.  “Possession is nine tenths of the law.”  Just try and take it away from me once I have it!  Or how about, “children should be seen and not heard.”  That’s not about making noise.  It’s about keeping ideas quiet.  Power can be claimed or awarded.  And it will create an opportunity to get things done.  But will those things last??  Did the people without assigned power want to do those things or were they complying … losing…from a weaker position.

There are some similarities with direct authority.  It’s assigned. It can get work done.  But will that work stand the test of time?  If you tell someone to do something and they think there’s a better way to do it, what will happen given time?  Will the work continue to get done? In agreement, there is a willingness to move ahead.

One of the reasons we attribute influence to leadership is that influence has the potential to produce lasting results.  Why?  Because there is no inherent loser!  With the ability to influence others’ thinking and actions, leaders create an environment where people around them want to act in concert.  It’s the same thing with facilitated agreement.  Unlike a direct order, a facilitated agreement is reached ‘win-win’.  And when people win, they want to continue with doing things their way.

So what does this have to do with managing or supervising more effectively?  There is wisdom in the group.  Listen.  Be open.  Don’t be threatened by someone else’s ideas.  Embrace and analyze them.  Share your thoughts and be prepared to explain your actions.  Allow for questions.  All of these tactics will facilitate changes in behavior that will last!  The work will become everyone’s priority and purpose.  A win-win!  A better situation.

Power lasts as long as one person can hold onto it.  Influence lasts as long as a part of the winning team is there to carry the ideas forward.

I hope you’re creating lasting change!


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4 Responses to Power versus Influence

  1. Marsha Beardsley says:

    I recently got a Goodwill Rewards card. I went to your site but could not find where to activate it. Could you help me out. Thanks Marsha

  2. Vicki Zbikowski says:

    I have activated my account, but have never been able to get the coupon I was promised upon signing up! I was told to go to goodrewards@goodwillgr.org which I did but did not see any information there either, can you help?
    Thank you,

  3. Tracy Amid says:

    Vicki, thanks for reaching out to us. We double-checked your email information in our system and resent the coupon to your email account. Please let us know if you did not receive it.


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