According to science, every powerful dictator, politician, billionaire, or mob boss drew power from at least one of six sources. This article will explain those sources and show how you can use them to increase your power and influence. See also this article we wrote that reviews the nature of power according to science.
Table of Contents
Power & Influence In 3 Steps
- First you need to understand how power and influence are built. There are 6 sources of power.
- Coercive power. Coercive power uses threat or force to make people do things. This can be anything from insults to violence. CEO’s have the ability to fire people. Politicians have the ability to include bad provisions in the bills they write if people don’t comply. See this page for more about developing coercive power.
- Reward power. This is power that comes from enticing people to do things with money or other gifts. Business owners do this when they hire employees and pay them a wage. Managers entice people to act by rewarding compliant workers with more desirable tasks.
- Legitimate power. Power that comes from a position supported by social norms is called legitimate power. For example a law enforcement officer has the support of the law and community when they give you a ticket for speeding. Develop this power by seeking powerful positions in your school, workplace, or community.
- Referent power. This comes from social affiliations or organizations. For example, you might be able to get your friends to go to a certain restaurant because they like you. Work on your listening skills and conversation skills to better this type of power. Read more here.
- Expert power. Expert power comes when you have knowledge or skills that people find valuable. An easy example of this would be the engineers in a company. Doctors also have expert power, and people seek them out for their treatments and advice when they have issues. The easiest way to develop strong expert power is to gain a skill that is in high demand. Go into the software engineering, nursing, sales, or construction fields. Ask yourself how you can develop a skill that everyone wants.
- Informational power. Finally comes information power. Information power comes when someone knows something others value but can’t access. For example, if you know a government secret about the military, you have information power. Knowing a powerful person’s phone number is a type of information power as you can get people to do things for you in exchange for that number. Develop information power by being a better listener. Look for information that is limited or scarce and then plant yourself between it and other people.
- Next, create plan to build each source of power. First you need to decide what your natural advantages are and lean on those. Talents give you a quick boost in power since you can improve them faster. Maybe you are naturally persistent and socially skilled. Make a goal to work on improving your referent power. Next, decide the ways you lose power. In which of the categories above do you struggle seriously? Make plans to avoid those situations where you lose power or come up with practical and simple ways to fix those issues.
- Finally, start practicing and implementing that plan. This is the simplest but most difficult step. Start doing it. If you struggle to accomplish a goal, make it smaller and smaller until you can’t help but achieve it. Make daily habits that you can do with little effort that will improve your sources of power.
- You start doing standup comedy in order to overcome your social anxiety that is hurting your referent power.
- You go to night school to get a degree so you can be promoted into a higher position with more leverage and better pay. This improves your legitimate power.
- You stop openly sharing valuable personal information with people. You focus on listening and asking good questions. This improves your information power because people open up to you.
- You save up and eventually purchase real estate with your extra money instead of spending it on things that aren’t investments. This allows you to spend less on rent in the long run because your room mates are paying most of it. You use your extra money to throw entrepreneur parties. This improves your reward, information, and referent power sources.
- You exercise and take judo classes. This increases your coercive power.
A Quick Way To Become The Most Powerful Person In The Room
You can apply these lessons listed above in any situation. But the most immediate effects of power can be seen by improving your social skills. Learn how to persuade. Learn how to network. These things will bring you immediate power in any room.
First learn what people want. Once you learn what people want, you also gain the ability to get them to do your bidding in exchange for that thing. In fact, people get rich because they figure out what a part of society wants and they find a way to get it to them. This wealth and ability brings much power to them.
Learning what people want is the first step in persuasion. It will immediately make you more powerful in any social situation. The key to persuasion is to tell people what is in it for them. Why should they do what you are asking? Give them a selfish reason to go along. The best way to find out what people want is to study value theory and then practice listening carefully to what people say.
Once you understand persuasion, start applying it in the room you are in. Work on starting effective conversations with people you don’t know. Figure out what they want. Give it to them. Become the person in your social group that is able to get people what they want and you will develop power.
Networking well boils down to two things. First you need to be able to learn what people want via conversation. Then you need to be able to get it for them. As you become better and better at doing this, you will build a reputation as someone who gets things done. This will build you power in any room.
Learn to Spot and Resolve Chaotic Situations
Chaos is an invitation for someone to lead. Learn to spot areas where people are unsure, hesitant, or fearful. Look for new areas that are quickly growing or expanding. If you can find or create chaos and learn to control it, you can gain power quickly.
Another important thing to think about is what your reason is for wanting power and influence. If you are clear on your purpose you will be better able to accomplish your goals. You won’t get distracted. You will be able to overcome discouragement.
Are you trying to stop people from getting hurt, like yourself or people you care about? Do you want to be well known or feel significant? Do you think people would want or value you more if you were powerful?