The Elements of Power: Lessons on Leadership and Influence

The Elements of Power: Lessons on Leadership and Influence

The Elements of Power: Lessons on Leadership and Influence

The Elements of Power: Lessons on Leadership and Influence


What do a person's knowledge, expressiveness, history, character, and attraction have in common? Or his or her role resources, information, network, and reputation? Each is a key to either personal or organizational power, and together they open the complex combination lock on the door of true leadership and irresistible influence.

The Elements of Power combines the latest research on the nature of power all over the world with a handy self-assessment and invaluable insight into:

How power works in organizations

How people use and lose power

The relationship between power and leadership

What makes famous people powerful- or what diminishes their power

Sources of power and how to build each one

Leading and influencing others more effectively

Complete with "Portraits in Power" examining key business figures and world leaders alike, the full effect is an accessible and unprecedented pipeline to the many sources and types of internal and external power, including the most valuable of all: the power of will.


Twenty-five years ago, British pop duo Tears for Fears released their hit song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” I remembered that song five years later when a senior human resources manager at a division of General Electric asked me to develop an educational program on influence effectiveness. She felt that many of the employees she was responsible for were not skilled at influencing upward or laterally within their matrix organization and were not nearly as persuasive as they needed to be with customers. “Many of them don’t have strong enough presence,” she said, “and they aren’t good at getting their ideas across. They can’t read audiences and don’t know how to adapt to them. All they do is tell customers about the features of our products and services. Too many of our recent hires are going to fail if we don’t teach them how to use power and influence.”

To meet her need, I spent several months in university libraries searching for and reading everything I could on the topic of power and influence in organizations. Although the research was often enlightening, none of it offered what I felt was a comprehensive picture of how people develop the power necessary to influence others effectively. I sought a model of power and influence that could describe every instance of influence—from street beggars to dictators, from friends doing favors for one another to colleagues working together on teams, from athletic coaches to executive coaches, and from mail room clerks to CEOs. As a business consultant, I was primarily interested in how power and influence were used in the world of work, but I quickly realized that there were numerous parallels with how power works in politics and government, the military, the church, the media, social organizations, and families. In fact, the exercise of power in politics and nonbusiness organizations is essentially indistinguishable from the exercise of power in companies, so businesspeople can learn much about power from how it is used in other domains.

In the literature on power and influence, I couldn’t find the compre-

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