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INFLUENCING SKILLS - using power for influence

Influencing people is about getting them to change their attitudes and behaviors.  It is important to have influencing skills when you are making changes and improvements. It is a key skill for teamworking and leading.

This handout provides some information on the different sources of power that give you influencing skills. At the end there are some activities for you to do on your own or with your team.

This is an example of background information for a training session, with a training activity.

Sources of power and how they are used to influence others

As a member of a team you might be able to exert influence over others if they think you have some power. Every person in a team can wield some sort of power over others. How successful you are depends on the source of your power. The seven key sources of power are as follows:

Coercive power is based on fear.  An individual high in coercive power uses threats of punishment - such as reprimand or dismissal – to force people to comply.

Legitimate power is based on the position held by the individual.  An individual high in legitimate power gets people to comply because the team feels that this person has the right to be obeyed because of their status and formal position.

Reward power is based on an individual’s ability to provide rewards, such as a pay rise, or formal recognition of something well done. The person with the key to the stationery cabinet can have reward power as you have to get passed them to get a new notepad.  An individual high in reward power gets you to do their bidding because they decide whether you get any incentives or resources.

Expert power is based on the individual’s skills, knowledge and expertise. People with expert power can get others to cooperate or comply because their expertise is respected.

Relationship power is based on an individual’s personal relationships and personality. An individual high in relationship power is able to influence others because they like and admire him or her.

Connection power is based on an individual’s influence with others of importance. If the individual has a wide network, both inside and outside the organization, that individual can use his or her important contacts to influence others.

Information power is based on the individual’s ability to access and pass on important information that others value. For example, an individual who can work their way around a complicated database to pull out anything and everything can decide what, how and when information is provided.

A team activity

Resources required:

Enough copies of the above Sources of power and how they are used to influence others handout for every member of the team.

Pre-prepared name badges with the following names (or make up your own if you don't like these ones):
lionheart, doggone, fishfilly, catwoman, deerleap, birdfly, horsearound, goatee, lambalong, koalaking, donkeyote, rabbittail.
Link here to print the ones we prepared earlier.

Charts with the names already inserted. You need a chart for every team member. Link here for one we have prepared.

Enough pens of the same color for every member of the team.

How to do the activity:

Identify one person as the co-ordinator for the activity. If a team member is chosen to be the co-ordinator, they should do the tasks.

Every one of you in the team should pick one of the name badges and pin/stick it onto yourself so that it is clearly visible to everyone else.

Then work on your own for about 15 minutes, consider the 7 sources of power and answer the following questions. Do not let anyone else see your answers to the following tasks:

* Take about 5 minutes to read the handout and identify the power sources you use, and the power sources other members in your team use.
* Using the pen you have been given for this activity, put a cross in the chart to show the power sources you have identified that you yourself have. Then put a cross beside the sources of power you think the others in the team have. (You can assign more than one source of power). If you think some members of the team do not have any sources of power, don't assign any to them. Do not show your results to anyone else.

When everyone has finished, the coordinator should gather up all the sheets.

The co-ordinator should then complete a master sheet to collate the results by inserting from the individual sheets, the number of crosses assigned to each name. Which master sheet you choose will depend on how comfortable the team is about knowing what power sources have been assigned to them. See examples.

While the results are being collated, in the team, discuss the seven sources of power and work together to identify the power sources that could be used so that all of you work better together. Decide what power sources are 'good to use' and 'not so good to use'.

The next step is to consider the results. If you have chosen to complete master sheet 1, then you will know what power sources have been identified in the team but you won't know who these power sources have been assigned to. If you have chosen to complete master sheet 2, you will know what the team thinks each member of the team's sources of power are.

And the piece de resistance: discuss the results and determine what changes should be made (if any) to how the team and each person in the team should be using sources of power.

Last, but not least, each member of the team should take turns to compliment the person next to them on their individual contribution to the team, specify the contribution to show how the person makes your team great.

A week or so after this exercise, come together again and review how you are now using your sources of power and agree further actions if there is still some way to go for everyone to be using the sources that are 'good to use'.

You can do the activity on your own:

Think about the seven sources of power and how the members of teams you are in currently use them.  Which sources would be most effective in making you change your mind about something willingly and wholeheartedly? 

What influencing skills can you as an individual develop to be more effective in various teams?