How Managers Can Gain Power At Work

Getting more power at work is your key to success
Getting more power at work is your key to success
Image Credit: Andrew Malone

When we start a new manager job, things can be quite frustrating. Where we were previously allowed  to occupy leadership a role, we now find ourselves in a powerless position at the bottom of the organization ladder. No matter what manager skills we have, it can be all too easy to start to think about switching jobs. The question that managers need to be able to answer is how can we gain power when we are starting out with none?

It’s All About Networking

Let’s face it, in the workplace power often comes from who you know and what you can get done. In order to become more powerful, you simply have to know more people. What this means for you is that you have some networking that you need to be doing. You are going to have to take the time to use your manager training to network across departments – gaining power means being willing to work outside of your department. If you are going to want to build a strong network, then you are going to have to be willing to ask a lot of questions of the people that you work with. At the same time, as you discover what other people do for the company you are going to have to make sure that you show respect for both their accomplishments and their roles.

When you are building your network, you are going to have to be keeping your eyes open for projects and team building opportunities that excite you – these can be the key to interacting with more people. Your goal is going to have to be to try to create enthusiasm in all of the people that you interact with. By doing this, you will make your coworkers more willing to offer you new opportunities and these can go a long way in helping you to build your power. The one thing that you want to keep in mind is that it is generally considered to be a bad idea to talk about what you have accomplished in the past. The reason that this is a bad thing to do is because it will create mistrust as your coworkers start to think that all you care about is bragging about yourself and you won’t take the time to get in synch with them in your current job.

Something else that you can do in order to gain more power is to find ways to help out the people that you work with. Generally speaking, helping out people that you work with is not considered to be part of how we gain more power; however, by doing this you may be able to get other people to view you as being a role model and this can lead to you having more informal power. As you build up your network, your firm may start to view you as a more valuable employee. The reason that they may view you this way is because they understand that managers who are able to build strong internal networks turn out to be high performers.

Build Your Skills

If you find yourself in a job where you don’t have power, another route that you can take to gain more power is to be willing to develop new skills. This kind of power is going to be informal power, but it will be power nonetheless. What you are going to want to be looking for are emerging areas at your firm such a new software that has just been installed. A key rule of thumb is to look for the thing that nobody seems to either want to do or know how to do and then you need to take the time to learn how to solve the problem.

Another skill that you are going to want to work on is your personal charisma. A lot of managers believe that charisma is just something that some people are born with. However, it turns out that that is not true. Charisma is something that can be learned. If you want to boost your charisma, then what you are going to want to do is to show up at work as the best possible version of yourself that you can be. At the same time, you are going to want to work very hard to show real authentic interest in the people that you work with.

As managers, when we are placed in a new role, we often make wrong decisions. In order to start to build power, we may think that what we need to be doing is trying to assert our views. It can be all to easy to make everything all about us and what we are currently thinking. This is the wrong way to go about doing things. Instead, what we need to be doing is taking the time to focus on others. We need to ask a lot of questions and then listen closely when others are talking to us. As we interact with others we should be showing both empathy and warmth in order to make others want to interact with us.

What All Of This Means For You

One of the most challenging things that can happen to any manager is to be placed in a new role where you don’t have any power. You may have had power in your last role, but now you find yourself without any. Your job now is to find ways to gain more power as quickly as you can. How can a manager make this happen?

The key to starting to build power once you find yourself in a new manager position is to start to network. You are going to want to ask a lot of questions and show respect for the jobs that other people are doing. Search for projects that nobody wants to do and then jump on in. Don’t waste any time talking about your past accomplishments because nobody really wants to hear about them. You can build informal power by finding ways to help out the people that you work with. Another approach to building power is to take the time to build new skills. A skill that we can all build is personal charisma which is how we present ourselves to others. Don’t think that you can build power by telling everyone about yourself, instead take the time to focus on others.

Finding yourself in a new position in which you no longer have any power can be a scary experience for any manager. However, what we need to understand is that this is a temporary situation. It is going to be our responsibility to quickly start to gain as much power in our new position as we can. This means that we’ve got networking to do and new skills to develop. The next time that you find yourself in this position, understand that you’ve got work to do!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: When you find yourself in a new position, do you think that it is more important to network in your department before trying to network in other departments?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental IT Leader Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental IT Leader Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Ah, email. What a powerful tool. What an utter nightmare! Managers probably use email so often that they no longer really spend that much time thinking about it or developing manager skills to use it wisely. However, that may be a mistake. What we forget is that email is a tool and if we can learn how best to use it, then we can become more effective. The good news is that email is that it is something that the researchers have been spending a lot of time taking a look at. Their goal has been to find out how we can become smarter about how we use email at work in order to boost the importance of information technology. Let’s take a look at what their research has uncovered and see if we can gt some manager training to use it better.