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Welcome to the course. This course is all about influencing people. Think about your job. Think about the experiences you’ve had in organizations. The ability to influence people, whether they be your team members, your subordinates, or whether it’s influencing up, maybe your boss. Or other stakeholders in the organization, maybe even stakeholders outside of the organization. This course is all about the skills, the tools, the practices that you need to be able to influence those people, those stakeholders. I am extremely excited for this course. I’m excited for two reasons. One is, because influence is the core, it’s the essence of leadership.
If you look at all of the different definitions of leadership around the world, many, if not most of them, at the core of that definition, is the ability to influence people. And that’s what this course is all about. The second reason I’m extremely excited about this course, is that we’ve been conducting research over about the last decade. That has opened our eyes to some pretty novel, in some cases counter-intuitive practices, behaviors, actions that you can take. That make you more influential, that enhance your ability to influence people no matter where they are in the organization and no matter where you sit in the organization. Whether you’re at the top of that organization or at the very bottom.
How do you influence people? Motivate them to engage in a set of behaviors that is critical, that’s essential, to accomplishing your teams goals, and the organization’s goals. That’s the essence of this course, is how do you influence people.
In week one, we’re going to start with the foundation, which is really how do you build your base of what we call informal power? We often think of power as the people at the top of the organization. The people that look like this. This is the Forbes Top Ten Most Powerful People in the World, as rated in 2014, so a couple of years ago.
Take a look at the people in this picture. What do you notice? When I look at the individuals who are listed here as the Most Powerful People in the World, I see heads of state, the Prime Minister, the President of the United States. I see the Pope, Pope Francis. I see Janet Yellen, who the head of one of the most significant, most powerful organizations in the world, in terms of economic policy. And then you see business leaders, Bill Gates, Larry Page, the founder of Google. When we think of the most powerful people in the world, these are the types of people that we often think about.
But what we’re going to talk about in this course is a different type of power, a different type of influence. I want you to think about, for example, in 2014 between October and December the protest that were happening in Hong Kong called, Occupy Central. Those protest which became extremely influential were started by a group of students. A social movement, they had to influence people from all diverse types of backgrounds to come together around a particular cause. Think about the Arab spring that happened now a number of years ago.
Again, a number of young people, not in powerful positions, but who claimed power and were able to leverage and use that power to influence a wide and diverse audience to come together around a common cause. Think about Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s, who really was the motivating force behind the Civil Rights Movement. He didn’t have the type of power that these individuals have here as heads of state, or head of Google, or Microsoft, or the Gates Foundation. What we’re going to discover in this course is how no matter where you sit in your organization, no matter where you sit in life. How can you establish your power?
So that you can influence other people for whom you may not have authority over and that at it’s core is the essence of how you lead people, how you lead teams.
It’s not about always wielding the biggest stick or the biggest sword but it’s about how you influence people and processes even when you don’t have the authority. And that’s what we’re gonna discover in this course. I wanna start with a little quiz. And the quiz will for shadow some of the different types of power that we’re gonna talk about this week. What you see here on your screen, Reward power. Which is really the ability to reward for performance. If you perform well do I have the ability to reward you for that performance? If I have that ability that gives me a form of power in this relationship. Another form of power, what we call Coercive power.
It’s the ability to punish, or if I have too, to force performance or compliance. If I have that ability, that gives me power. Thirdly, what we call Legitimate power, this is the formal right to influence. Think about your organizational chart, job titles, reporting relationships. Who’s the boss, who’s the subordinate. That’s the base or the source of Legitimate power. But those are very much structural forms of power and we’ll talk about those structural elements of power this week as we go through the course. But then look at other forms or sources of power listed here. What we call Referent Power which is the charisma that we talked about in course one.
The personal connection the relationship that we have or how strongly you identify with me as your leader or as a person. if you want to follow me, that’s a form of referent power because of that connection that we have that charisma that I provide. Expert power, this is having expertise. When that expertise is valued or rare in the market place. The extent to which I am more of an expert and that expertise is valued, the more power I have. And then lastly but certainly not least is Information as power. Having information that is valued or rare.
Akin or similar to expertise but you don’t necessarily necessarily have to be the expert to have information that is valued or rare, that then in turn gives you power. So these are six different sources or bases of power that we’ll talk about in the course. And what I’d like you to think about or at least document for yourself is, which of these do you think is most or least effective? For using different forms of power to influence people. And so I’d like you to take a minute on your own to rank order, one being most effective, seven being least effective. Which one of these bases of power would you say is most effective for influencing people?
Which of these bases of power would you say is least effective for influencing people? Think about your own experiences, think about the people that you’ve seen as leaders trying to influence others. Which bases or forms of power did they use? Was it effective, was it not? And take a moment and go to the discussion forum and share your rankings. Which ones you think are most effective, which ones you think are least effective. Share and learn with your classmates and try to understand their rankings and what their experiences say about the relative effectiveness of these different forms of power.
And then later in the week, as we go through the course, we will come back and I’ll share with you some of the research and insights that we have on all six of these bases of power.
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Influencing People

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