Sunday, November 20, 2022


Power is related to strength. Power is the ability to achieve something beneficial. The power can be collective, power can be collaborative. Nowadays, everybody wishes to be powerful. People want power. King gets the power by position, Presidents, Prime Ministers and political leaders get the power through collective power. In democracy, the power of the people is valuable, however it is not always used for the benefits of their own matters. They are at the mercy of their elected members for the development. This is unfortunate but power is considered as an outcome instead of the media to do something good. Power means the ability to create the better conditions and reality where one can flourish and be happily productive no matter the conditions or where the person is presently living. 

Once the power is gained the position is used to coercion. Few leaders are known because of their position and they get the power because they are appointed by somebody higher. They may not have the ability to use the power positively but then they use the power for their advantage and for others disadvantage. Absolute power makes people blind, corrupt and inhuman. The world has witnessed infamous corporate scandals. There are many examples of political leaders and dictators who misused their power putting the world in danger. 

Power is relational. Everybody is hungry for the power and hence they do different things to get the power. Achieving higher positions, being knowledgeable and expert, nominating on different social, political or organizations committee positions, doing something extra and being visible by any means are few types of how people try to get into the power; I mean getting the sense of having power.   

There are different types of power humans can get.

Positional power or legitimate power: You get the power because of your position you hold. The government gets the power because they hold the key position. CEOs, MDs, CXOs get the power once they are appointed by the board. People follow them just because they have to follow those leaders. One can still stand out and can convert this positional power into influencing power by his/her own charisma, the personal traits or developing good interpersonal and leadership skills. However this is very difficult. The attitude determines which power the positional leader uses. Most of the time influence and charisma is just eyewash. Finally it is always a positional power people use. 

Power by charisma, also called referent power: It is a personal power. The person gained this power because of his positive personality traits. The leader gets this power because s/he truly demonstrates the leadership behaviours, strong interpersonal skills, empathy and s/he carries executive presence. Here presence itself is a power. People feel comfortable while interacting with such types of leaders. 

Expert Power: Knowledge is the king. Leader gets the power based on their ability to influence the people based on their expert domain knowledge. Their influence however may be limited. The knowledge, the expertise they have brings the value on the table and hence they are recognized. Scientist,  technicians, doctors etc. are good examples of expert power.   

Reward power: We  all know how some political parties are declaring freebees to the people to lure them. Giving freebees, gifts, and declaring incentives is common to get the power. The only agenda is to be popular among the people. This may be beneficial for the short term but you spoil the culture and mindset of the people. The habit of continuous reward creates the entitlement culture. It becomes very difficult to get out of that afterwards. So then people work only for rewards and not for larger organizational purposes. Voters who elect politicians based on freebies spoil the country and we have experienced this for long.   

Coercive Power: We all know such examples in the political world. You can force the people to do what they don’t want to do. The people who get the positional power may easily use the coercive power to influence the people. 

Power itself is not bad. It is about how you use the power. Sometimes, leaders, political, social or corporate have to influence others to make the impact. In the knowledge economy, knowledge and data is a King. You can definitely integrate the knowledge, expertise, and personality traits to influence the people to do something beneficial for them or the organization. Though there is  not a concrete formula of power used, misuse of the power by positional power or coercive way is always disturbing. If the person who gets the positional power is not matured, then there is a lot of room to have the negative impact on the sentiments. 

So which power do you believe in?


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(Opinions are purely personal & does not represent my organizations, current or past) 

Author's books are available on AmazonFlipkartPothi and BookGanga. You can buy the print copy of Vitality in Human Resources on amazon. Click >> Vitality in Human Resource: Adding human dimensions in HR processes    

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