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POWER USE ACTIVITIES

The following activities may help the reader understand their power potential better and add to their skill in its effective use.

Activity 1: Influence Lineup

Instructions. Neither the literature nor practicing inner leaders talk much about their use of power or that of others working with them in their work communities. Experience, however, suggests that most people most of the time are aware of their power and its relationship to the power of all others in the work community. This activity will help readers get in touch with their relative power in their work (or other) community. (If you and your work community colleagues do this activity as a group, proceed as indicated below. If this is not feasible, mentally align your work community—including yourself—along a line from most powerful to least powerful.)

  1. Begin by marking one end of a line as the spot for the most powerful person in your work community.

  2. Have each member stand in line according to how you see yourselves— as most powerful to least powerful. The most powerful person will be at the “power end” of the line.

  3. After the line has stabilized, ask if anyone wants to move himself to a different location from where he or she is now. Allow members to realign themselves along the line.

  4. Discuss the self-perceptions and perceptions of others.

    • How does your power as perceived by other members compare with how you see it?

    • Were there disagreements among members about who is the most powerful?

    • Does the work community have certain biases about power, such as the richest person being seen as the most powerful? (Or the smartest, of higher ranking member, etc.?)

    • Why do you think it was relatively easy (or difficult) for you to do this?

Activity 2: Your Power Personality

Instructions. The way in which someone handles power and influence has a direct bearing on his or her functioning in the work community. The questions below are aimed at helping you clarify your power behavior in work communities. How aware are you of the power you have over others in the work community? How do you usually express your power in the work community? How do you react to being influenced by other members? To help answer these personal questions complete the following questionnaire.

  1. Rank the following six items from most important to you “1” to least important to you “6”.

    When other work community members try to influence my behavior, I am likely to do the things they want me to do because:

    ____ I admire them for their personal qualities, and I want to act in a way that merits their respect and admiration.

    ____ I respect their ability and good judgment about things with which they are more experienced than l am.

    ____ They can give special help and benefits to those who cooperate with them.

    ____ They can apply pressure or penalize those who do not cooperate with them.

    ____ They have a legitimate right, considering their position, to expect that their suggestions will be carried out.

    ____ They have information I need in order to accomplish my goals, and therefore I listen carefully and use what they have to say.

  2. Circle your most accurate response to the following questions.

    When I participate in a work community task, I am completely conscious of how much power I have and how I can use it to make sure my needs and wants are met.

    Never

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    Always

    When it comes time to set work-community priorities, I seek out other work-community members who have compatible goals and try to form coalitions to increase my power and therefore the likelihood of my influencing the priorities in the way I want.

    Never

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    Always

    I am quite comfortable dealing with power. I like influencing other workcommunity members, and I enjoy being able to build enough power to get what I want from the work community.

    Never

    1

    2

    3

    4

    5

    Always

  3. The way in which I would describe my power-oriented behavior in a work community is

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

    ______________________________________________________________

    Answer key: The possible responses to question 1 correspond to the six traditional kinds of power identified by French and Raven (1959). They are, in order of the responses: charismatic, expert, reward, coercive, legitimate, and information power. Your response to question 1 suggests your preferred kind(s) of power use.

    Responses to other questions further elaborate your preferred power personality. As colleagues also complete this questionnaire, you can compare your responses with those of others in your group and define a work-community power personality.

Activity 3: Power IQ

Instructions. There is little discussion of power in classrooms, boardrooms, offices, or shop floors. As a result, many people are unaware of the power they routinely use and the importance of their personal power in getting their personal agendas realized on the job.

Getting in touch with your power IQ, therefore, is a necessary first step to its effective use. Complete the following list of questions as fully as you can. Honest responses will shed light on your present power uses and your feelings abut using power and having it used toward you. They may provide guidance as to next steps in increasing your skill in power use.

  1. List a few appropriate uses of power.

    What are the factors that make them seem appropriate?

    If you decided to install a new work system and one of your division heads continued to oppose it in direct and indirect ways, how might you use power to get what you want?

  2. List a few inappropriate uses of power.

    What are the factors that make them seem inappropriate?

  3. Recall a time, at work or at home, when you used power on someone else to get him or her to do something he or she didn’t want to do.

    How did you go about using the power you had?

    How did the other person respond to this use of power?

    If you were in the same situation now, would you chose to act differently? Why? How?

  4. Recall a time, at work or at home, when you had power used on you to get you to do something your didn’t particularly want to do.

    How did the person go about using his or her power?

    How did you respond to this use of power?

    If you were in the same situation now, would you respond differently? Why? How?


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