What to expect from the resource.
Power: A User’s Guide (PAUG), authored by Julie Diamond, delivers exactly what it promises on the tin: a guide to how to connect to, and draw on, your positional and personal power.
It is much more “How to Win Friends and Influence People” than an abstract moral discussion of power and influence. Why?
For starters, it makes a range of powerful and nuanced distinctions. For example, it distinguishes
- Rank: which suggests fluidity and negotiability; a dynamic network of power in motion that shifts up and down a hierarchy, which in turn depends on a given context, from
- Authority: the power we have that rests on some form of legitimacy, explicit or implicit, from
- Power: the ability to impact and influence situations across diverse and unpredictable contexts with legitimacy, for the greater good.
It also encourages the reader to explore what it is we can’t be with and how this weakness can contribute to the dilution of our power or leads us to misuse it. This aligns closely with the Leadership Circle’s concept of Reactive Tendencies which inhibit our leadership.
Most importantly, it allows you to discover your ‘Powerprint’ – your unique fingerprint of power, where it comes from, and the influences from childhood and life from which it derives.
What we love about it.
It doesn’t attempt to overlook or excuse the seriousness of systemic discrimination which seeks to diminish people based on factors such as race, gender, and sexual identity or preference.
What it does do is help the reader to better connect to their personal power, which all great change makers have done. It also helps the reader to find language that they could substitute for their context: agency, mindfulness, positive self-regard, character, integrity, loving kindness, or influence.
It also resonates deeply when the author asserts that you have to feel powerful in order to use power well. Understanding why, and how you can do this with humility, integrity and non-attachment is a critical lesson for all leaders to learn.
Why it matters to leadership in organisations.
PAUG offers a practical frame for understanding and assessing your positional, but particularly your personal power. More importantly, it allows you to grow and enhance your power, not by acquiring more of it, but by illustrating how you can connect to the latent power you already possess.
It also offers practical tips, including these key observations about power:
- High rank has psychological effects that alter our behaviour and attitude, the means of power.
- High rank comes bundled with opportunity for its misuse.
- Motive determines how we use power.
- The way we use power depends on our perceived self-power.
- Context plays a role in defining power.
- Social power is “outsourced”, dependent upon external values, norms and hierarchies.
- Personal power, unlike social power, is “self-soured”.
- We each have a powerprint: a unique, complex system of overlapping, intersecting, and at times, contradictory rank experiences.
When we understand the rules which govern our personal and positional power, we are more enabled to grow and make best use of our agency. And that matters in organisations and in teams.