Influencing Without Direct Control (I Want Power. I Choose Influence.)
How powerful am I? What is power? Are you empowered? Power over? Power by? Power with? If only I had more power! Do I really want more power, or do I want more influence? Is there a difference?
As I think about all of the relationships of my life, power seems to have a major role. As a child, my parents had power over me. As a student, teachers and administrators had power over me. As a new employee, I gave my boss and my senior colleagues power over me. As a poor citizen in my city, I gave power to government and institutions. We have learned that the world works on a class system which relies on the belief that we must have people who have power and people who are subservient to power. In the subservient role, I seek safety and control, yet I give up freedom and choice.
Is having more power the answer? Why do I want more power? What will I do if I get more power? I believe our search for power is the wrong search. What I want is influence with others so that I am heard, and my ideas are utilized.
I want to influence in all aspects of my life. My family, my friends, my colleagues, my boss, and my fellow citizens in my community.
When I seek to influence, I claim my own power. Not power over others, but power with others, and power to contribute. I can co-create shared endeavours with others by valuing their expertise and laying claim to my own expertise.
As a citizen in a community or an employee in an organization, I can claim my power by not giving it to someone else or attempting to take it from someone. There will always be someone with more money, more status, and more experience than me. I, however, have expertise and other contributions to offer every relationship. I am unique, and I claim this uniqueness while honoring your expertise and uniqueness. The brand new employee, the person living on the fringe of society, both have unique expertise, perspectives, and gifts to offer.
I have come to realize that I give power away and deny my own power too often. I regularly give power to others, especially if I perceive they have power over me, and sometimes I use it as an excuse not to own my own power. Influencing without direct control—that is my everyday challenge and goal. I want to influence because I have expertise and other capacities to offer the world. It’s not only technical expertise, it is relational expertise. Influencing without direct control is the premise behind Peter Block’s groundbreaking work, “Flawless Consulting: Getting your expertise used.”
For the first time, Designed Learning, Peter Block’s training organization, will be offering their groundbreaking Flawless Consulting workshop in London as a public offering. Join me and my colleague, Andi Roberts, as we guide you through the key elements of building collaborative relationships through the Flawless Consulting process.
Accelerate building trust by clearly understanding what people want.
Articulating what you want.
Deal with challenging partners.
Solidify agreements to achieve sustainable results that are good for individuals, teams, organizations, and the community.
Learn how to assertively claim your own power by influencing others and seeking to be influenced by others.
This will build relationships and will ultimately result in successful, sustainable communities and organizations. I look forward to seeing you there, or on some other workshop in the not too distant future. In the meantime, I wish you well as you grow your capacity to influence without direct control.
Jeff Evans is a Vice President at Designed Learning and oversees delivery, product quality, and managing our team of international consultants. He’s been partnering with Designed Learning for over 25 years. He’s delivered training in more than ten countries to a diverse set of organizations and participants, including engineers, managers, manufacturing executives, healthcare professionals, human resources and IT.