Possession of control, authority, or influence over others, ability to act or produce an effect, ability to get extra-base hits, capacity for being acted upon or undergoing an effect
There are 11 Types of Power at Work that you need to be aware of.
Anyone can be powerful. That’s right, you don’t have to be CEO to have or gain power at work. There are at least a dozen different types of power within organizations; different roles and personalities offer different types of power. Some forms of power at work are up for grabs, if you are willing to put in time, effort, and energy. Other types of power at work are harder to earn. Let’s break down the types of power at work to get a deeper understanding of what might be available to you:
Formal or Legitimate Power
This is the most commonly known type of power; it is what most picture when you say the word power. Formal power is when someone holds an official title or role, accompanied by status and leadership in a particular domain or organization, a.k.a. “The boss” or someone who sits hierarchically above others.
Expert Power at Work
Expert power may or may not come from a role or title; it is much more aligned with deep experience, skill, and/or knowledge about a particular area of significance in an organization or industry. The more rare and difficult the expertise is to get, the more credibility, respect, and subsequent power a person will have.
Reward Power at Work
When a person has the ability to pay or otherwise compensate others in their organization, this is reward power. Rewards may come in the form of grants, promotions, raises, jobs, or other perks. Reward power is often coupled with legitimate power, but not always.
Coercive Power at Work
If you invert reward power, you will find nefarious situations where people in power create fear among those who sit hierarchically below them, by threatening to punish them in a variety of ways for not playing by their rules. This is coercive power. Some examples of coercive power may include demotions, loss of privileges, transfers, terminations, and bullying.
Informational Power at Work
This is where someone has broad institutional knowledge. It differs from expert power, in that expert power tends to be deep expertise about an area of an organization, skill, or industry, while informational power tends to relate to general knowledge about an organization and its processes, culture, people, and history. Someone with informational power may hold a long tenure at an organization or have a role with broad oversight.
Network or Connection Power at Work
This kind of power is all about whom you know and how big your network is. Network and connections here may relate to internal or external connections – and may even include personal networks.
Referent Power at Work
Referent power is most commonly associated with those with charisma and likeability. Famous people, social media influencers, and some politicians are examples of those with referent power, but anyone who can win influence with their appeal and attractiveness has access to referent power.
Location or Centrality Power at Work
One form of centrality power is location power, which is all about how connected you are physically to those with power. How much face time do you have with leadership? How often do you see the executive team? How central – physically – are you to what is going on? This is the opposite of the adage, “out of sight, out of mind.” If your desk is conveniently located near the C-suite or situated on the way from the cafeteria to the bathroom, you likely have centrality power. If you are in the office with your boss and everyone else is remote, that would also give you location power.
Operational or Centrality Power at Work
Another type of centrality power is operational power, which more closely relates to organizational structure and connectivity to the processes of those with power. If your job in the mailroom is to hand deliver important mail to the executive team, if you are the liaison between important teams, or if you are the personal assistant or tech support to organization’s top leaders, you likely have centrality power.
Linguistic or Framing Power at Work
Someone who has excellent command of the language has easy access to linguistic power. If you are able to frame requests, statements, and questions in a way where you can influence the perspective of others, you have linguistic power.
Agenda Power at Work
If your role enables you to influence the agenda of what is discussed in meetings, to prioritize what is or isn’t accomplished, or to decide on resourcing for an organization, you have agenda power.