When a waitress asks “Can I get you anything else?” I often joke: “Yeah, money and power would be great.” (Everybody laughs and agrees they’d like more.) In reality, wouldn’t we like more power? Wouldn’t make things easier? Probably….
Let’s assume it would be good. Okay then, how do I get more? Power comes from a “contract for services” we call Authority, we form with other people in our sphere. The contract works like this: If people feel a sense of protection, direction and order because of you or what you do, they give you power – they “authorize” you. Conversely, if they don’t experience those “services” they withdraw your authority.
This construct is necessary for humans to co-exist (see the current conditions in Syria or Somalia as examples of what happens when the authority structure crumbles.) So if you want to move the system, dealing with the authority structure will be one of the key obstacles or opportunities.
So how does one get more authority in an organization? Well, there are at least two distinctive paths:
- Do decades of good work and hope people notice.
- Partner with someone who already has more authority and in five minutes – you have what might take decades to build
We are not talking about selling out. We are suggesting finding overlapping interests on which an alliance could be built and finding a way to tap into the power that already exists.
How much time do you have?