Power as a Tool: Are You Using Power as a Hammer?

by Karen Keller, Ph.D.


Using your power as a hammer can have all types of outcomes.

Hit the nail on the head by using power as a positive in your company.

It’s OK to admit it. You want more power. You wouldn’t be striving for a successful career if you didn’t want to get more and more power in your area of expertise. Of course, I have no doubt that you’ll get to that position of power that you’ve always wanted, but when you get there, how will you use it? 

I like to think of power as a hammer. There are so many ways to use a hammer, just as there are many ways to use your power. Some of which have positive outcomes and some are negative. So which ways should you swing your hammer in order to have the most positive effect in your workplace. 

Build up a community. A hammer is one of the most important tools you need in order to build something strong and lasting. In your workplace, you should always use your power as a building block for creating a healthy, open work environment for your team. 

Construct barriers to entry. You know what you can also build with a hammer? A blockade. Be careful not to alienate coworkers by erecting barriers around yourself using your power. Eventually, people come to resent you. 

Break down a glass ceiling. The glass ceiling still exists for women. It’s hard for them to advance past a certain level of management and they have to work extra hard to get past it. Use that power you have and swing it right through the glass ceiling, shattering it for yourself and the women that come after you. 

Smash morale. If you aren’t careful where you swing your hammer, you’re likely to do some real damage to people around you. The same goes with power. Be careful of the way in which you use the power given to you, because it may serve only to squelch company morale.

Create a framework for success. This is what you ultimately want to do with your hammer of power. You want to use your power to empower your employees to build a team that works well together and has no problems getting access to the tools they need to break down barriers that they encounter.


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