Workplace Politics – Influencing Others

There are many personal attributes that provide their owners a special ability to influence others, we can categorize them in three categories −

Referent Power                              

It is the ability to influence others through what they see as desirable personality traits. They provide the subject for role modeling. Some examples are − integrity, emotional intelligence, aim, drive, confidence and resilience. Leadership, embodies all the above mentioned qualities, and the true source of the leader’s power is admiration.

Anyway, with respect to all personality traits, it is noticed that behavior facilitates the reference point for others. The traits themselves must be inferred as expected behavior can be imitated. This makes us think of traits as qualities that can be learnt.


When someone possesses knowledge, talent and skills that are superior to our own, and we are willing to let them guide us, they practice expert power. In terms of Organizational context, this source of personal power is mostly linked with professional and highly specialized work, and people with expertise knowledge have invested time and energy in acquiring it.

In order to be usable it is expected to be both credible and inaccessible to those the expert wishes to influence. Expert knowledge is strongly linked with individuals, so there are times when people will make no difference between knowledge and the individual. They will rely on any information provided by the person as the final word, so many times, personal credibility that is at stake.

Social Competence

There is little confusion regarding skills like the ability to read the motives of others, current ideas engagingly, diffuse disputes, conduct interviews, behave in a collaborative fashion, or be good at small talk, are an important source of influencing. These skills are not expert skills, and acquiring them does not rely on knowing something that most other people do not. For example − praising someone or recognition to someone are considered as the ‘soft’ rewards which anybody can give to anybody.

One need not be a manager to commend the efforts of others but to praise effectively one has to be sincere, time it well, be precise, handle the negative reactions like disbelief or embarrassment, and to be sure not to overuse it. After learning, the skill of praising it can be used as a personal source of power. The limelight is not only on the recipient but on the giver too that is the one praising.


We often say ‘everyone loves a winner ’or’ success breeds successes. But behind these achievements lies a bitter truth. The importance society gives on success enables that people who are successful are more powerful. Success represents achievement, prosperity, victory, and social acceptance.

It is linked with outcomes, and to frame another phrase, you can’t argue with the winners. Basically we attribute it to the efforts of some individuals and groups. Instead of explaining it as the product of collective effort, the outcomes of contributions too interrupt to unravel.

Even when success is the outcome of good luck we contrive to personalize it. Thus success seems to be direct conditions of deliberate attempts made to use it as a source of personal power.

Simply put, not all behavior is talent-oriented or skill-related, but it that doesn’t make it less influential. Let’s see the other way around. Social skill may protect us from seeing the self-centered or even malign intentions of others as we are tempted by the plausibility of what they say and the way they say it.

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