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Power Over VS Power Through: The Essence of Leaderhship & Power

Power over and power through are concepts that Turner first came up with (Turner, 2005).

The concept, at the core, is very simple: are people following you because they have to, or because they want?

Power Through VS Power Over

Power Over means to have power on others by virtue of your ability to punish and reward.
In workplaces, it means that you are controlling the resources and that you're the boss.

Power through instead is the ability to mobilize others by "higher" appeals such as:

  • Inspiration
  • Selfless group identification
  • Admiration for the leader / group

Power over without power through is based on coercion, force, and authority.

Power through is the true essence of leadership.
Leadership that resort to power over is not leadership. It's (poor) management, it's dictatorship and it's oppression.

Every time you use power over expect resentment to grow and, if people can afford it, also expect feet dragging, resistance and passive-aggression.
And of course, also expect less than stellar execution and results.

But Both Is Best!

However, this is what The Power Moves adds:

The best type of power is power through backed by power over.

Such as, you inspire and motivate, but you also have the formal authority (title) and you control the resources (salaries or other benefits).
You never resort to using threats... But you could.


linhauwei and selffriend have reacted to this post.
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Lucio, Your comments 48 Laws of Power (Ethical Leadership) were/are very good!  One suggested enhancement to your comment on Law #3    is please add,     " - and be a man honor" .   Please add these 5 words to end of your comment.   My point is, do not just "come across as" as a man of honor -   be one...we can never emphasis the importance of being a man of honor (or woman of honor) too much.

Thanks!  Mikey D (southern cal)   PS  excerpt below....


"✘ Law 3: Conceal your intentions.
✔ Law 3: You will rarely be able to be honest 100% of the times, but most people can smell fakeness and lies.
Strive to align your values, words and actions so that you can come across as a man of honor"

Lucio Buffalmano and selffriend have reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmanoselffriend

Very good catch, Mikey!

The way it was worded indeed it still sounded very "gamey/slimy" and that wasn't the objective.
I fixed it now, thank you!

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