The Three Styles of Power

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The Three Styles of Power

(and How to Increase Yours)

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Authority is role power and any other power that is granted or given based on the role you play in an organization. This is the most direct power of the three and does not necessarily mean you are the head or at the top of an organization. The head of a company has authority or positional power over all those who report to him or her. A subordinate, however, may have been granted relational power or role power in organizing a committee, project or event that gives that individual authority over those higher, equal to and lower in the hierarchy of the organization. This type of role is ultimately much more important than it seems at face value or by the title it has been given on paper.

Increase your Authority by: Volunteering for additional responsibilities or earning the delegation of additional organizational responsibilities through higher-than-expected levels of productivity. As an upshot it can also be increased with upward movement on the food chain through promotions which are often associated with these actions. Metaphorically being the “first one in the gym” and the last one to leave has its perks.


Knowledge comes from acquiring information, expertise and skills in relation to a topic, field or occupation. Knowledge ultimately determines the quality of the work performed and the efficacy in how it is executed. A person with a vast amount of knowledge in a specific subject is said to have an expertise in that particular field. He or she is a specialist. According to the consulting firm Merritt Hawkins & Associates, an invasive cardiologist in the United States earns an average of $461,364 while the average for a primary care physician is $195,000.

The experts in a company or any field create results that force others to listen to what they say and respect their opinions and methods. They have gained a greater amount of knowledge and understanding in what they do from experience, training, reading and oftentimes a great deal of trial-and-error. Simply put, they put in the work. People respect those who are good at what they do.

Increase your Knowledge through: Additional training, apprenticeship, education, learning through reading, listening to audiobooks, and the acquisition of new skills. Acquire expertise in your field (e.g. becoming a doctor) and then become a specialist (e.g. becoming a cardiologist) within the field of what you do.

Personal Power

Personal Power is the ability to take consistent action in order create positive change in your life. It comes from success conditioning, the power of rituals, the ability to make decisions, and avoiding procrastination in taking action based on those decisions. There must be a clear goal or outcome and a clear plan on what actions must be taken to create that desired outcome.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said,A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

Napoleon Hill said, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

People who have high levels of personal power have learned how to fight the biologically driven need to avoid pain and gain pleasure. They have learned to change what they link pain and pleasure to in order to change their behavior. In doing so, they are now controlling the force of the decision, as explained below.

Increase your Personal Power by: Making a real decision, which is defined as anything you take immediate action toward. This can create enormous change in your life by focusing on the beneficial outcome of your actions rather than the pain of what those actions require you to do.


Authority, Knowledge, and Personal Power are three styles in which you can use to attain greater levels of influence over those you interact with. Next week we’ll explore some deeper power components to ensure every interaction you have with another human being has the greatest chance of success for the outcome you desire. Subscribe below to get this content straight to your inbox.

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2 Comments The Three Styles of Power

  1. Rosann Santos June 7, 2017 at 1:19 am

    This is such an interesting perspective and categorization of power. I feel that personal power is the most important of the 3. I would imagine that you have to use your personal power to make authority and knowledge that much more impactful.

    1. Rio Rocket June 7, 2017 at 1:53 am

      Thank you for the comment Rosann.

      That would be an interesting way to use Personal Power indeed. This form of power is more appropriately applied toward making radical changes in your behavior and habits. See it as “success conditioning”, and something that can be enacted immediately to create instant change, whereas Knowledge and Authority are usually acquired over a period of time.

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