You want to grow your negotiating power, so you can have more purchasing power, the power to make decisions in your career, and the power to have your voice heard at the decision making table.
But what IS power, anyways? And how can you have more of the type of power that will be most effective for your situation?
In this episode, you will learn:
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As an executive coach for women, I'm super passionate about helping smart women who hate office politics get promoted and better paid.
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Welcome to Negotiate your Career Growth. I'm Jamie Lee, and I teach you how to blend the best of negotiation strategies with feminist coaching so you get promoted and better paid without burning bridges or burning out in the process. Let's get started. Of course, you want to grow your negotiating power because you're listening to this podcast, how to negotiate your career growth, which means that you have an interest in growing also your purchasing power or your income, and you want to have more power to make decisions in your career, and that's why you negotiate. That's why you advocate for what you want, right? And you want to have more power to have your voice heard at the decision making table. But it's also very easy to feel powerless in the workplace because let's face it, we still counter sexism, racism, all the isms, the working world.
The system is far from ideal. It is rather broken in many places, but it doesn't mean that you are powerless. You do have the power to effect change. So today I want to talk to you about four types of power and how you can have more of it. This idea, the four types of power, is something from the book Making Conflict Work. The full title is Harnessing The Power of Disagreement by Peter T. Coleman and Robert Ferguson. I will link to the book on Amazon in the show notes so you can get a copy for yourself wherever you are. It's a great book. And because I coach women who hate office politics, I think this is a great book because it talks about tactical useful strategies that you can implement to harness the power of disagreement and work through conflict, uh, in the workplace, um, so that you can have a more satisfying outcome.
Now, before I start, before I dive into the topic of four types of power, I, I wanna suggest, I wanna invite you to consider this episode almost like a masterclass, like a workshop on podcast <laugh>. And I encourage you to put this podcast on pause, go grab a piece of paper, or maybe even like open your notes app on your smartphone and start to, you know, come along with me on this journey and answer some of the question prompts that I am offering you. These, these are, these are question prompts. I have been asking myself, I have been asking my clients to help them, you know, feel more empowered in the workplace, feel more empowered as they navigate conflict with their bosses or with their teammates direct, and so that they can have a more satisfying career experience. So, first and foremost, I want to just give you like a high level overview, which is that, you know, I wanna talk to you about what it could look like for you to be power adaptive.
And I'll tell you a little bit more about what I mean by that. Power, power adaptive is a concept that I came up with my, by myself after thinking about like, how can I really help, uh, my clients to have more power in the workplace so that they can feel more empowered? And I think the four steps that you can take to have more power are really simple. Number one, take stock of the power that you already have according to each type of power. In other words, take inventory of the power that you have right now. And then number two, decide which type of power you want to have more of. Is there a particular type of power that you want to grow intentionally to help grow yourself in the direction that you want to grow or to help you achieve the career outcome that you want?
And number three, decide the type of experience. What is the experience that you want to have or the experience that you want to create in having more of that particular type of power? And number four, adjust accordingly. Adjust your approach, adjust your communication accordingly. So with that said, let's dive in. So first of all, I'm gonna ask you what comes to mind when you think of the word power? In other words, what is the almost unconscious association? What just rises to the surface? When you think of power? Are there certain images, perhaps like a lightning bolt of power, or are there words that come to mind? I have asked this question to my clients, and sometimes they tell me they have a rather negative connotation with power. Take for example, they think about old white men because it is true that, uh, until very recent, well, I mean even to now, most of the, uh, C-suite at Fortune 500 companies, almost 90% of them are white men.
And you know, by and large, if we look back, if we consider the decisions that people in positions of power have implemented, we're like, wow. Yeah, those were not great decisions. Those decisions had a rather negative impact on the ecology, on on, on people of marginalized identities. People in historically excluded groups. So it's, it's, I think it's understandable that when we think about power, we think about people who have had or continue to have power over us, and we don't like that. But also power, when you think about it, you could be like, oh, power. That's a rather neutral thing. And so I'm just gonna ask you to, to take a moment to like jot down, okay, when I think about power, what comes to mind? We just wanna get clear on what is our unintentional default association, because that will let us know how we are relating to the power that is around us, the power that we experience, and the power that we may already have. Now, I'm gonna ask you to define power. We understand how we associate almost at default, right? At a unconscious level, but now let's get clear on what power actually is. How do you define power?
And my clients have told me that they define power as, um, the ability to make decisions. It's like when you have the the authority to direct, um, something group of people, a project or power as, yeah. And then sometimes clients are like, actually, I have no idea. I've never really thought about what it is. <laugh>, right? So let's get clear on that. In the book making conflict work, Peter Coleman and Robert Ferguson offered this very simple definition that I like in the very simple definition is that it's simply the ability to make things happen. That's it. The ability to make things happen. It is not necessarily position, it is not necessarily titles, it is not the displays of power. It's not somebody who shows off how much power they have. It's like just ability to make things happen. And I love this sentence they have in the book about power so much that I've pretty much memorized it, which is that the means, sources, and types of power are only limited to your imagination.
So take that in. The means, sources and types of power are only limited to your imagination. It's like, whoa, think about that. What if that it can be true? What if the means sources and types of power are only limited to your imagination and is not limited by your skin color, by your gender, by your circumstances, by whoever has quote unquote power over you, but just at your imagination? I think that's so freeing and so empowering. And I want to talk to you a little bit more in detail about how you can put that into action. In the book, they go into detail talking about how there are two different ways to think about power. So different mindset approaches as well as the mindset traps. How when you have power, it can blind you, it can blind you into thinking that you know it all or that you are invulnerable, that everything's gonna work out justice the way you think it will, or you feel like you're above the law, right?
We, we have all seen and, um, encountered people like that in the news, in the political arena arena, as well as in our own lives, right? And we're like, oh, it's so frustrating. But also when you feel that you don't have power, or if you see yourself as powerless, that too can create a mental trap where you just assume that nothing's gonna work out, or you see yourself as not having as much ability, uh, to make things happen as you actually do. And so then you end up becoming biased against the, the capacity, uh, the potential that you have to effect change in your situation. And I know for myself, when I, uh, struggled, uh, being an employee in the workplace when I was the working, when I was the only woman at the leadership table at a tech startup, like I remember yeah, feeling like, oh no, I'm so power.
I feel stuck. I feel powerless and stuck. I remember feeling that way. So yeah, I think the way these, uh, two authors call that mindset trap out, it was like really useful for me to see. Also, I mentioned that there are two different ways to think about power, right? And I think that's also very useful to consider. The first way is to see power as something that is fixed pie, something that cannot grow something that is either all or nothing. It's like winner takes all kind of mentality. And then there's also the incremental or the growth mindset approach where you think about power is something that can grow, something that we can share and something that can, um, grow and expand as we continue to collaborate and share more of it. And I just wanna make a comment add here that there is no particular way that is good or more moral.
Remember, power adaptive. Sometimes you want to think about, you know, perhaps taking that all or nothing approach is the best approach to use or to see power in a given circumstance. Take for example, if you are a doctor who works at the ER and somebody wheels in a young child with a knife wound, right? You're, you're not gonna take the incremental approach of thinking, oh, I need to share the power to decide what to do from here. Let's consult all the other doctors, or let's consult the nurses and the technicians and the E M T professional what we should do. No, there's no time for that. You need to take the all or nothing. Like, I make the call, I am the doctor here, I am the person in charge. This is what we need to do stat right now, right? So yeah, I think it's really useful to think about, yes, there are different ways to approach your power.
And being power adaptive helps you be flexible, helps you like, get out of this like, oh, one way is bad or good. Now having said that, let's talk about the four different types of power. We've already been talking a little bit about the first type, which is power over. Power over is when you have the authority to make decisions, when you have power over and you can tell people what to do power with is when you are sharing power, right? It's associated with that incremental approach to power. And when you are sharing the power and you're, um, you're in collaboration and there is interdependence, you need the other side. You rely on the other side to get things done. And when there is more interconnectedness, more interdependence together, you create, you make even bigger things happen, which is the reality of most of our working experiences, whether we like it or not.
The third type of power is power under when you, um, have more leverage, more, uh, ability to get things done because you are associated with somebody who has more power than you. So take for example, uh, in the, um, in the, the popular cartoon, the Simpsons, uh, is it still popular? I don't, it was popular when I was growing up, <laugh>, it's, it's been going on for I think at least three decades. I think I could be wrong, but in anyways, if you're familiar with the cartoon, the Simpsons, then you know that there is Mr. Burns. Mr. Burns is sort of the, the old white dude who has lots of money and he's got the big, you know, crooked nose and bald and he's always scheming something. And, um, he has Mr. Smithers, who is his right hand person, his go-to person who has power under because of the association with Mr.Burns.
But again, power doesn't necessarily mean that it's nefarious or bad. I mean, for me, I graduated from Smith College and it's a seven sister school. And you know, sometimes people are like, oh, Smith, yeah, I've heard of Smith. That's a great school, right? So through that association, I also do gain some power under. And the fourth and final type of power is power apart. Power apart is about having autonomy power apart means that you can stand apart from the group, from some other authority figure, and you get to make things happen on your own. So take for example, if you work for yourself or if you have the ability to decide your working hours to direct how your product goes, right? With, with minimal supervision, that is power apart. So now that we have walked through the four different types of power, I would like to encourage you to think about how do I have power in each of these different types?
So think about power over, and I encourage you to either pause this podcast or just, you know, make a quick note on your notes app or on a piece of paper, where do I have power over in my career and also in my life? Where do I have the power to give orders, to make decisions, uh, to enforce a decision? Or where do I have the power to influence other people because of my, uh, recognized knowledge, my expertise, right? So I think about, for me, I have the power over, um, how I direct my coaching calls, for example. And for you, you may realize, oh, actually in addition to making the call as the manager or the director of my department, I have power over my home. I have the power over, um, how I decide to decorate or to fill the space, the physical space.
I also have the power over how I spend my time. So that's a little bit of power apart too, right? Autonomy. And it's okay if you see that, oh yeah, there is a bit of overlap between the different types of power and, and think about, okay, but where else do I have power over? And the reason why I encourage you to do that, because I have noticed that some of my clients, they're almost hesitant. I had one client who told me, oh, I don't wanna think about like me having power over my children. But let's face it, if you are the parent, if you are the guardian, you do have that decision making power, you do have the power to, you know, make them wake up and go to the dentist or make them eat their breakfast and go to school, right? You do have that power over.
So take inventory of all the different areas in your career, in your life where you do have power over. Then from there, let's think about power with how do you share power in the workplace? Now, I think this is really important to think about, especially if you are experiencing some interpersonal conflict or you know, you are encountering office politics or you're not, you're not a fan of how management or leadership are making decisions or how they're going about doing things. So when you do have power with, it's not necessarily about whether you agree with their communication style. It's not about whether you are being verbally recognized for what you're doing. And of course, you would love to be recognized and who doesn't. We all love to be recognized and rewarded and appreciated, but it's not about any of that power with is about like, how do we actually share the responsibilities?
How do we actually rely on each other to get things done, to make even bigger things happen? If you are, like some of my clients working for an incompetent boss and a manager who doesn't have the skills to really manage and lead people effectively, you are allowed to have those opinions. But also I encourage you think about, you know, the work that I do, my ability to make things happen in my job is essential for this person, for this manager to do their job. If you are a software engineer or if you are a project manager, you managing that project, you writing that code is essential for the manager to be able to report on that job or to, uh, make, you know, what am I trying to say? To give an update to their bosses, right? And so think about that. Think about how everyone, regardless of their position, regardless of their title, regardless of their communication style or lack of management skills, are interdependent in the workplace.
So I'm encouraging you to see yourself as having that power with the power with, with meaning, the ability to make things happen because you show up because you are getting things done. And from there, you can also think about, okay, power under, what is the power under that I already have? If I work for an employer whose name is well known in my field, then yeah, there is some clout that I gain from being associated with that name, even if I'm not a fan of this particular employer, right? And I, there is some influence that I gain from that. So make note of that. And you get to decide if this is something that you want to continue to have or if you want to grow. But we just wanna take full stock, full inventory of all the different types of power that you have.
And of course, let's not forget power apart your autonomy. Autonomy. How do you have autonomy? How do you have power apart? The ability to make decisions for yourself on the direction of your projects, on how long you work on those projects, on how you communicate on those projects, how you get to decide on the overall direction of your career. I have a client who have decided that right now the best way to make transition in her career is actually to work a second job, work a second part-time job. And I also have clients who decide that as you know, as a manager, as a director, sometimes the best thing is for them to start widen their horizon by engaging in networking conversations with other people in their field or a relevant field to be able to, you know, see for themselves what else is possible so that they can grow their power apart, their autonomy over the overall direction of their career.
So think about that. How do you have power apart, right? What can you just decide for yourself on your own? And also, how do you want to grow if you do your power apart? So now that you have taken all the stock, you have taken inventory of the four different types of power that you already have, now take a moment and ask yourself, which type of power do you want to have more of? Do you want to have more power over? Do you want to have more direct reports? Do you want to have more direct influence over your departments', uh, workflow, um, the projects that you're working on? Do you want to have more power with? Do you want to experience more collaboration? Do you want to have a stronger, uh, partnership with cross-functional partners? Do you want to have more power under, do you want to work for somebody who is, uh, well-known, somebody who has a, a stronger, a better reputation?
Or do you want to really grow your, your power apart, your ability to make that decision for yourself? There's no right or wrong answer here, but I think, again, back to power adaptive. So let's dive into that a little bit more. Power adaptive, if we were to think of a metaphor, it's almost like a universal charger, right? You can take your mobile or laptop device and it works in all the corners of the world because you have this power adapter that will help you, um, translate that electricity flow in Europe or Asia and make it work for your device. And so I want you to think about how can I be power adaptive according to the needs, according to the specific needs of the context of the situation that I'm in? Sometimes you need to step into power over and make the call kind of like that er doctor scenario I painted.
And sometimes you need to, you know, really be more open to power with, you know, sharing that power and seeing, uh, collaboration help you achieve bigger things. And sometimes you need to grow your power under sometimes power apart. So having said that, let's talk about number four in the process, right? Number one was taking stock of your types of power. Number two, decide which type of power you want to grow.
Number three, decide what kind of experience you want to have having that type of power. And I want you to consider, like, one way to think about it is like, I can be more power adaptive, I can be more flexible, I can be more agile according to the needs of my specific situation or context. And now number four is adjusting your communication strategy accordingly. So I'm gonna give you two examples. Number one is if you are working for a manager and you are unhappy with the way this person is, uh, communicating with you, um, sometimes it's easy to feel powerless in that situation 'cause they're like, it's the boss and the boss is in the way, right?
So I had a client who was experiencing this and I helped her do exactly what we went through in this podcast. I helped her, uh, take stock over power over. And she's like, yeah, I have power over quite a few things. I have power over my home, my garden, my children, right? My working hours. And I also share power with this manager. You know, again, it's not that she has to like how this particular manager is communicating and it's not about being validated or recognized. It's about acknowledging that with her contributions, things get done, things are getting, uh, done because there is interdependence. And so I helped her step into more of that power apart by asking her to think about it as if she were a consultant, not a direct employee, because she has quite a lot of power in this situation, more than is verbalized.
And so I asked her if she were to see herself as a consultant, as somebody who is on equal footing, uh, not somebody who doesn't have as much power, then how differently might my client respond to for information from the manager? Again, she's not a fan of how the manager is asking for that information, but she is in control. She does have power apart to decide how she responds, because how she responds has an impact on how she feels and how she gets to experience herself in this situation. And so I asked her to think about that and she said, actually, if I saw myself as has as having as much power, I would just respond right away with the quick updates that I know she needs because I know what she needs. So I said, you know what? Let's just make this into a recurring communication plan.
The manager doesn't need to change, the manager doesn't need to, you know, become a better manager, but you get to experience yourself as having more power apart and you get to experience yourself cultivating more of that power with by providing that update on a regular basis because you know she needs it. And my client really liked that because now she sees herself as, oh yeah, I am empowered and I don't need somebody else to change, for me to feel differently and to see, to see and experience my power differently. So in conclusion, I wanna go back to the beginning and again say that it's not your fault if you have experienced a sense of powerlessness or feeling of having your power curtailed, uh, because of gender socialization, because of patriarchy, millennia of patriarchal rule where power was limited to those who were not women and, and ensured that people of historically excluded groups were excluded from positions of power, right?
So there is a reason why sometimes we feel this almost like, um, um, uneasy association with power, but doesn't mean that you are powerless. Because if we think about power from a more neutral perspective, power is simply the ability to make things happen. Let's face it, we are powerful a f and in fact, we have the world's most sophisticated, the fastest, the most real, the most generative human intelligence ever, which resides in our human brains. And when you learn to work with your brain, you get to grow your personal power, you get to see yourself as having more power than you realize. And it can start as simple as first taking stock of the different four types of power that you already have. Power, power with power under power apart. And you get to decide what is the type of power I want to have more of?
What is the experience that I want to have? Do I wanna be more flexible? Do I want to be more adaptive according to the needs of the situation, right? And I get to adapt how I speak myself into having more power. So my wish for you is for you to feel empowered. And if you want any help with this, please book a free consultation. I'd be more than happy to walk you through so that you can see yourself with more power and speak with more power in your career, in your life. I will talk to you soon. And if you want expert guidance in your corner to help you achieve greater self-confidence and greater career satisfaction as you grow your skills in negotiating, leading and influencing as a woman professional, I invite you to book your free one-on-one sales call with me to find out how executive coaching can help you do exactly that. The link is in the show notes, talk soon.