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Power is the ability to influence others

Leadership is very important. Good leaders are able to communicate with others but also listen. They have a vision to realise large-scale ideas and they have the power to make these ideas come true. Are you in a position where you need to exercise leadership, but you do not know how best to go about it? Power & influence is the way to go.

what is power & influence?

Power & influence are two terms often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. Both refer to natural qualities that come from authority. The difference is how you motivate your team to complete their work. They are important aspects of leadership in the workplace. Knowing and understanding the difference between power & influence is valuable to gain the trust and respect of those you lead.


Influence leadership changes the ideas and beliefs of those around you. The people you influence will feel more engaged and committed to your cause, which ultimately leads to productive and successful results. With influence leadership, you cannot directly influence someone's actions or behaviour by telling them to do something. You can, however, use your personal skills to influence others to change their behaviour, thinking or actions.

There are 4 different types of influence:

  1. Telling: Telling is the fastest way to influence. So it is very suitable in emergency situations and for regulation. It usually happens in a top-down situation. That is, it is communicated from the top (CEO) to the bottom (staff). In less necessary situations, telling is not so effective. People don't like to be told orders because it makes them feel powerless.

  2. Selling: Change is hard, even when we say we want it. The first type of influence stops at explaining the 'what', but the second type of 'selling' goes further into it and explains the 'why'. Selling is a way of gaining agreement and support for a new idea or cultural change. It persuades others to join in. This is no longer just a top-down situation but can happen from above, below and from the side.

  3. Consultation: The third type of influence is 'consultation'. You can ask trusted people around you for advice. It doesn't matter how good or bad the advice is, because ultimately you decide whether to use it or not. At work, this is just the same. When you go for advice at your workplace, this is a collaborative process, but one person has the authority to have the final say.

  4. Collaboration: Is there a problem in your company, or maybe just a new project? This is the ideal time for your team to collaborate. Employees of any level can exercise their leadership in this way by providing structure and solving problems together.


Many people get a negative feeling when they think about the concept of power. This is because leaders often abuse their position. Psychologists French and Raven divided power into 5 different forms. These 5 forms are sorted into 2 groups: organisational power and personal power. Organisational power includes: legitimate power, reward power and coercive power. Personal power is more about experience and reference. Personal power sources are more related to job satisfaction, commitment to the organisation and job performance. Coercive power has a negative result on employees' work performance. The different powers should not be completely separated from each other as they can be used in different combinations.

But what do all these different powers mean?

  1. Reward power - This power is based on the idea that the leader can and will grant valuable rewards if followers carry out his or her instructions. It is the ability of a person to influence the behaviour of others by giving them things. These rewards can be financial, such as pay rises or bonuses. But they can also be non-financial, such as promotions, favourable work assignments, more responsibility, new equipment, praise and recognition. A manager can use a reward as an expression of power to influence and control employee behaviour, as long as employees appreciate the reward.

  2. Coercive Power - Power comes from the idea that the leader can and will punish those who do not carry out his or her instructions. You will influence the behaviour of others by punishing them or creating a threat so that they do what their leader says.

  3. Legitimate Power - Power arising from a person's job or position in the hierarchy; a position that gives him the right to give orders. It is the ability of a person to influence the behaviour of others because of that person's position within the organisation.

  4. Expertise power - Power that comes from having superior knowledge, expertise or experience relevant to the task or challenge facing the group. You will influence the behaviour of others with your knowledge, skills or abilities.

  5. Reference power - Power that comes from the leader's character traits, background, image, executive presence or charisma. You are going to influence the behaviour of others because others like, admire and respect you.

How can I apply this?

You will become a better leader when you learn how to balance power & influence. Practising and developing your leadership skills with power & influence is the best way to find the balance that is most productive for you and your team.

how to improve in power & influence?

  1. Build connections

  2. Listen first

  3. Control your body language and tone

  4. Be consistent

  5. Be assertive

  6. Be yourself

  7. Be flexible

  8. Do not give up

  9. Help others



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