So, you don’t have to be an astute HR Pro to know that there are essentially two kinds of power.
There is Position Power, and there is Influential Power, or simply “Influence”. You may not know the labels, but you no doubt recognize that some people command authority because they have Chief or Vice President in their titles, and some people command authority because, well, they just command authority. Psychologydictionary.com defines it as “…ability to impact other people based upon the acceptance by these other people that the individual impacting them occupies an official position in the establishment or group which gives them the right to make important decisions and to command the others to comply. Essentially, the power is correlated with the position itself and isn’t reliant on the individual in the ascertained position.” https://psychologydictionary.org/position-power/
For instance, if your boss tells you to do something, you should probably do it, so long as it is within the constraints of your job. If they tell you to stop what you are doing and work on a report for a meeting next week – you should probably stop what you are doing and work on the report, or there will be consequences.
Your boss has Position Power and has exerted that over you.
Influence is where you do something because you genuinely want to. No strings attached, no cause and effect. This is where Leadership comes in (as opposed to Management), but you already knew that didn’t you!
Unfortunately, Influence is not something that comes naturally. You must work at it and cultivate it, and even then, it has its limits.
Enter those with Position Power.
The challenge is, if someone has come into a higher-ranking position but hasn’t mastered the art of Influence, they can be, well… difficult. For instance, their egos can get in the way. That is bad for them but can be good for you – all you need to do is stroke it.
That ego is sitting out there just wanting you to pet it. To rub its belly, and scratch behind its ears. That is how you get stuff done with these people.
At the end of the day, it is all about egos; and if you can keep yours in check you can get a lot of stuff done, which in the end is what you want, right?