How Should a Leader Develop More Power?

In order to succeed as a leader or manager it is important that you develop more power. But many people are suspicious of the word power as it evokes two opposite sets of emotions; positive and negative.

Positive connotations of power come when we hear people saying, 'I want to empower my team', 'I feel a powerful urge to try something new' and 'In business, Knowledge is power'. Negative connotations of power are identified when we hear people saying, 'The government is getting too powerful', 'Powerful multinational corporations steam roller the interests of the man in the street' and 'Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely' (Francis Bacon).

So let us look at the legitimate and the illegitimate uses of power. Good uses of power are when power means the capacity to do something. To know that it is within my power to do something about a situation. This is a good use of power, which means you should continually strive to develop your ability power.

So how do you develop your ability power? This can be done by developing your knowledge of leadership and management technique, your communication skills, and your self confidence.

The physicist's definition of power is the work done divided by the time. So in basic terms the amount of work you can do per an hour. How much capacity for work do you have per unit of time? You should develop your power to do more productive work per hour.

This can be achieved by maximising your time management skills and your powers of mental concentration. The opposite of this would be inactivity or inefficiency.

Power can also mean economic power. Think about how much money you have saved and invested in the last five years. Those who have accumulated wealth have gained economic power. Those who have spent every penny, have no economic power. You should strive to increase your economic power.

So how do you do this? Figure out ways in which you can add more value to the marketplace. Invest your money into those things which will gain value in the long run, for example, property, business and gold. Don't spend all your money on things which will depreciate in value in the long run, like holidays and cars.

The three good uses of power are, ability power, work done divided by time resulting in efficiency power and economic power.

There are a number of bad uses of power which include the power over people. You shouldn't try to gain power over others. Some people use a powerful voice to talk over other people. They use their powerful character to rule over meetings and their powerful physical presence to intimidate others. This could be seen to be social bully, which in the long run is bad for everyone.

Power can be constructive or destructive. You shouldn't use your power to destroy and breakdown as it should be used to construct and build. Just think a nuclear bomb is powerful but destructive while a nuclear power station is powerful but constructive. In a business context it is better to construct rather than destroy. By working with others and not against them you can use your power to construct.

The misuse of political power is to unfairly use a position of political authority to personal advantage at the expense of others. Examples of misuse of political powers include a politician feathering his own nest by passing government contracts to a family member's company or a journalist bending the truth for their own ideological purposes.

All of these are examples of corrupt uses of power which will lead to failure for the individual concerned in the long run.

To recap, three wrong uses of power are, power over others (social bully), power to destroy, and corrupt political power. Three good uses of power are ability power, work done divided by the time resulting in efficiency power and economic power.

The point to remember is to only use the good.

Chris Farmer is a Management Training Consultant specialising in Management and Leadership Training ( The courses provided by Corporate Coach Group have helped hundreds of managers become immediately more effective.

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