Power in My Life

Powerin My Life

Poweris used in different forms, different scenarios and by differentpeople in our daily life to achieve certain individual, group ororganizational goals. Power is defined as the ability of anindividual to influence others accomplishes one’s will against thewill of others. Power is used in different forms and the subjects maynot be aware of the power influence applied to manipulate theiractions. Individuals apply different types of power such as forcerewards and punishment to compel others do what they would not wishto do at free will. In my life, different forms of power have beenused to compel me accomplish certain actions which I would not havedone at free will. In addition, I have witnessed various forms ofpower been applied on others in different circumstances. Thedifferent types of power that I have applied in life as well as powerinfluence that I have witnessed from others can be categorized underpower-over, power-with-others and power-from-within.


Power-overis defined as the ability to compel others engage in certain actionsagainst their individual will. This form of power is applied in formof rewards, punishment or through force to elicit certain actionsfrom others. There are several types of power-over applications suchas position power, obstructive power, institutional power andcultural power among others. In my early School days, teachersapplied a combination of institutional and position power to compelme to work hard in my studies.


Positionpower is power that an individual has based on the position ofauthority held (Rockwood Leadership Institute). As students we areunder obligations to obey teachers’ orders for fear of punishment.Teachers use rewards to influence us to work hard in class. Allstudents are expected to portray high level of discipline by theschool administration. I have also seen older people obeying policeorders even when the person issuing orders is young officer. Theelders obey the young police on the basis of position power held bythe officer. In my previous work placement, the manager used positionpowers to compel me accomplish certain tasks within the stipulateddeadline. In my life I wish to apply position power when I attain aposition of power in an organization or government institution.

Inorganizations, managers hold a combination of institutional andposition power over junior staffs through manipulating their actions.Throughout my life I have been guided and molded into a responsibleman through the community cultural power derived from social norms.In my community, I witnessed people been punished by beingexcommunicated for disobeying cultural norms. For instance, one manwas chased from the community for engaging in incest. Presidents andother government officers hold a combination of power-over. Forinstance, the president holds institutional power based on the officeheld, holds position power, may have transcendent power or personalpower such as the late Nelson Mandela.

Institutionalpowerthis is power wielded by established institutions in the society suchas churches, banks, government institutions, as well asnon-governmental institutions. Some institutions have economic,political and legal power. In my life, various institutions have hadgreat influence on me, for instance, the government demands that Ipay tax returns from my income as a statutory obligation. Banks andother financial institutions demands that one pays extended loanwithin the stipulated terms, failing to do so leads to auctioning ofone’s property.

Obstructivepower thisis influence derived from the ability to block or coerce one to dosomething (Rockwood Leadership Institute). In the politicalleadership sphere I have witnessed various forms of politicalobstruction from activists demanding formation or reversal ofparticular policies. For instance, recently pro-gun activists stageddemos to disapprove the gun control policy. Although, obstructivepower is mostly applied negatively, I wish to apply obstructive powerin my life through fighting negative aspects in the society such ascorruption, racial discrimination and poor leadership.

Structuralpowerthis is power that is implicitly and covertly exercised by thedominant institutions in the society such as ant-crime and terroragencies, judiciary, school systems, medical insurance and drug andpoison regulation agencies among others. In my life, I have beensubjected to significant influence by the judiciary and the Schooladministration systems. These institutions exert coercive influenceon one’s choice of actions. For instance, in my school days theSchool administration banned unauthorized food substances in theSchool compound. After completing my higher education, the courtsordered that we start re-paying our education loans immediately anddefaulters were penalized and sanctions imposed on one’s ability toacquire any bank loan.


Power-with-othersemanates from the influence one derives from associating with otherindividuals this power comes from collaborating, cooperating andassociating with others in the society. There are various forms ofpower-with-others such as referred power, co-powering, collaborativepower, transcendent power, institutional power and cultural power.

Referredpower isderived when we associate and connect with others who are in positionof power or authority. In my workplace, the assistant departmentalsupervisor excises great influence on the manager. I have witnessedthe great influence the manager’s executive assistant has on otherdepartmental staffs. In most cases, it is the executive assistant whodecides and directs communication from the manager. As such, theexecutive assistance is seen to have great influence on manager’sopinion and every junior staff exhibits great respect to theexecutive assistant.

Collaborativepowerthis is a non-coercive form of power that is derived by joining handsor efforts with others. In my workplace, staffs are expected to workas a team and this has enhanced a motivated team that accomplishesassigned tasks more easily than it would take an individual. Inaddition, I have applied collaborative power through teaming withcolleagues to discuss class subjects and this has enabled us performwell. In my life I wish to apply collaborative power in my communityand workplace to influence people to join efforts for the commongood.

Co-poweringthis form of power emanates from working with individuals in positionof leadership. For instance, my close working relationship with mymanager has motivated me to put more efforts in accomplishingassigned tasks. The manager provides advice and instructions on howto accomplish certain tasks. In this way, I am influenced by hisco-powering and wish to apply the same efforts when I become a leaderin any position of power in future.

Culturalpowerthis is a form of influence that comes from cultural norms of thedominant culture in a given location of society. The society in whichwe live is composed of individuals from different ethnic, race andclass. Although, cultural power is non-coercive, cultural power ismanipulative in nature. For instance, I have witnessed the wealthypeople mistreating the poor in our social institutions. Often, peoplewho belong to higher class, are rich or come from a different racesuch as the whites have often oppressed the poor and otherindividuals from different race and class. For instance, I havewitnessed black people being denied justice, jobs and sometimes beingsubjected to racial discrimination by some white racists.


Power-from-withinis defined as an individual’s ability to influence others or takingaction based on intention, vision and charisma to achieve a certaincourse of action. Power-from-within is derived from various aspectssuch as a person’s education, vision, norms or transcended power.

Expertpowerthis is power that an individual have based on experience, wisdom andknowledge. In my workplace, the IT technician have a higher influencein the organization based on his expert power all members of theorganization depend on the expert skills in solving technical mattersat the firm. Expert power is non-coercive and the holders of thispower exert influence based on their knowledge and skills. In future,after acquiring more knowledge and experience, I wish to apply expertpower in my workplace to address work related issues. I havewitnessed expert power exhibited by managers in organizationsmanagers address various issues in firms such as human resourcesissues, operation issues, legal and other administrative issues.

Personalpowerthis is explained as individuals energy that comes from inner drives,vision or strong emotions and help such individuals exert influenceon others. I have seen personal power exhibited by priests,motivational speakers and community leaders. I have personalportrayed personal power by pursuing and achieving personal goals inlife such as education and wish to exercises personal power in futureby pursuing more challenging goals such as political leadership orbecome a motivational speaker.

Transcendentpowerthis is power derived by having connection with higher power such ashistorical imperative, spiritual or other natural endowment.Transcendent power maybe coercive or non-coercive in nature andindividuals possessing this form of power has significant influenceon others. For instance, in my local church the priest is held inhigh esteem and his influence transcends to the congregation throughhis spiritual message.

Ihave also witnessed transcendent power wielded by other notablepeople such as the pope wherever he goes, the pope is thronged bylarge number of people. Dalai Lama is another being who is held inhigh esteem for his spiritual influence among the Tibetans. Inhistory, Martin Luther and Nelson Mandela are regarded as greatrevolutionary influencers who motivated people to rise againstoppression. These two icons had strong inner energy, emotions andspiritual connections. Sat personal level I wish to applytranscendent power by influencing people to rise against poorleadership, corruption and other social evils.


RockwoodLeadership Institute. Power analysis and Sources of power. 2009.(Handout)

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