How to assess Power and Influence: a simple but effective method

When we are dealing with change we need to be able to make quick but robust assessments of the power/influence of the different players. My colleague, Andrew Constable, has developed a concise but comprehensive approach to assessing power which he calls the 8P's of Power.

Power Poster

The 8 P's of Power by Andrew Constable

1. Positional
Relates to position in the organisational hierarchy, and where the role sits in relation to other roles. Refers to the formal authority attached to a particular role. Indicators can include job title, location and type of office space etc.

2. Professional
Refers to the expertise and knowledge an individual possesses, which has been accumulated over time. Indicators are formal educational qualifications (academic, professional and vocational), membership of professional bodies etc.

3. Past
This is an individual's track record - the sum of experience and achievements, successes and failures gained over time. It also includes the reputation of the person - what people say about him/her, what she/he is known for.

4. Personal
The collection of personal attributes, attitudes, skills and competencies that an individual carries with them, regardless of the formal roles they fulfil. This includes their character and personality, as well as transferable skills such as communication, listening, presenting, time management etc.

5. Political
This refers to the connections a person has, both formal and informal, which can be made use of, explicitly or implicitly, in order to influence events and get things done. It is primarily about the relationships the individual has with others, and includes the ability to network effectively, internally and externally.

6. Performance
This describes an individual's current contribution to the organisation, as perceived by others. It is reflected formally through performance review processes, and informally through the 'currency' the person has at this time. This can change quickly and dramatically.

7. Presence
Probably the most difficult to describe - it refers to the impact an individual has on others when they walk into a room, talk to others etc. It has a physical dimension to it - how someone carries him/herself, sits etc, but it is not necessarily about physical size itself.

8. Purse-strings
If an individual has a large budget or is able to authorise significant expenditure, then this provides them with a certain amount of power. This is closely linked with the formal role the person has, and is probably the source of power that the individual is least likely to be able to influence.

These ideas of Power and Influence need to be practiced in a safe environment - a great way to do this is playing a change management simulation game with your colleagues.

© Andrew Constable 2006

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