How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Stages of Personal Power
Janet Hagberg, in her book 'Real Power: Stages of Personal Power in Organizations', describes six stages through which people go when developing their power within a company.
We start from a position of powerlessness. When we join an organization we know nobody and are totally dependent on others for initial assistance in understanding how things work, how to influence others and how to get things done.
Power by association is the power we gain by being able to utilize the power that others already have.
As we get to know people and gain their respect and trust, we may leverage their power, for example in asking them to ask others to do things or asking them for introductions. The secret of gaining associative power is hence in being able to create bonds and draw on relationships.
We can also join teams, clubs and form other associations and coalitions, thereby gaining the power of the group.
Power by acquisition is that power which we gain through what we do and the persuasive evidence that others perceive in this.
Achievement leads to achievement. If we do well at work then we are given more important work and may also get promoted. The power we get from this multiplies, as people cede power to those who prove their ability, which then allows them to achieve further still.
In a curious reversal of depending on others for power, we can gain power through internal reflection and realizing we have all personal power on which we can draw.
A person at this stage is competent and has sound integrity. They are widely respected and this strength draws others to them, on whose ability and power they may consequently depend. Paradoxically, as they let go of their ego, they gain more power.
People at this stage are driven by their purpose. Their power comes from within. Their inner power is so much greater than the power of those around them, they can influence decisions of many others.
Great leaders show this purpose in stirring speeches and powerful and symbolic action. They succeed because they believe in a greater purpose beyond themselves. They are visionary and self-accepting, humble and spiritual.
Stage six people feel a deep connection to the greater universe. They may often spend time in solitude, connecting and reflecting. They may have been through great pain and crisis on more than one occasion, yet have used these events to learn and grow.
They have found contentment and live on an 'even keel'. The purpose they work to is very high. The know and accept powerlessness and in doing so find ultimate power. They embrace paradox and do not need to take sides.
Understand the level at which you are in this very deep hierarchy.
Hagberg, J. (2002). Real Power: Stages of Personal Power in Organizations (3rd Edn). Salem, WI: Sheffield Publishing Company
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