How to Gain Power when you Feel Powerless

Many emails I receive concern frustration caused by feeling powerless. Something’s wrong and change seems unlikely.

Abuse gives power a bad name, but you need power to get things done.

How to gain power when you feel powerless:

#1. Increase power by connecting with competent others.

Connect with one or two influential people. Don’t network with everyone. Be strategic.

Connect with people who know how things work and get things done.

Connect to learn, not simply to create a revolution.

Be curious. Ask questions that begin with what, who, and how.

  1. What’s important?
  2. What works?
  3. Who might know?
  4. How can I help?

#2. Increase power by leveraging competencies.

Don’t volunteer for every project that comes down the pike.

Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.

Join projects and teams where you make a positive difference. Leverage your strengths. Stay away from doing things that require you to do things you don’t do well.

#3. Increase power by helping others, as long as you deliver great results.

Don’t help others if it means you don’t get your own job done.

#4. Increase power by bringing positive energy.

How do people feel when you show up? Happy to see you arrive or happy when you leave?

  1. Notice what’s happening when energy on your team goes up. Do more of that.
  2. Turn conversations to the future. A negative past sucks the life out of everyone.

#5. Increase power by getting involved in a new and growing area.

It’s useful to fix old problems. But new projects often receive the spotlight.

#6. Increase power by learning relevant new skills.

Learn a new skill that might solve nagging frustrations or disappointments.

#7. Increase power by focusing on personal change.

Trying to change others is frustrating, especially if they have position and you don’t.

If you want a quick win, change yourself.

How might people who feel powerless increase their power?