Understanding why releasing control will give you more of it


Whether you are a business owner, manager, director, or other C-level executive team member or in your everyday personal life.   Now according to Merriam-Webster, the word control is a verb meaning and quote “1a)  to exercise restraining or directing influence over regular control one’s anger, 1b)  to have power overrule, 1c)  to reduce incidence or severity or especially to innocuous levels,  2a)  to incorporate suitable controls, 2b)  to check, test, or verify by evidence or experiments.   However, many people feel they must have control over anything and everything, regardless of why.  Through this article, I will share the different types of power, how this works, and why it may not be the best.

To understand control, we have to look at the types which exist:  power in leadership, legitimate power, coercive power, expert power, informational power, power of reward, connection power, and referent power.  Starting from the top management in leadership is a type of control implied because of one’s title, position, or group membership.  One example of this type of power would be power in leadership in your local town board comprised of your mayor and town council representing the citizen's best interests for the betterment of the community.  This type of power is assigned to members by the public, voting for who they feel will serve them best.

Legitimate power compels you to comply, such as the move-over law requiring you to change into a lane if it is safe to do so away from the emergency.  If this is not possible, you must slow down and possibly prepare to stop when passing by an emergency.  Did you know that if you elect not to do this, a fine between $100 to $500 may be issued to you?  The move-over law was first passed in NJ on January 27, 2009, under Governor Jon S. Corzine.

Coercive power is another form of power, and it is when someone uses force, threats, or direct interaction to bring about a result.  Students in school may be punished by losing recess or playtime if they turn in their assignments late or have an unexcused absence.  A court may use its coercive power to exercise penalties if someone becomes in contempt of court.

Another area of power refers to the expert ability, which is when someone is an SME (Subject Matter Expert), such as an engineer, architect, doctor, lawyer, AI Specialist, or many other areas.  The key to remember is that this expert power is permanent, while power in leadership, a specific title or position, lasts only while the person is in that position.  For some people, positional power, when granted, is indefinite, but they quickly learn it's not when they are no longer in that role.

Whether you are working for a small company or a large corporation, there are times when you are others may gain informational power.  This is a specific type of power one has when they have access to information that will make it easy to elicit specific behaviors.  One example may be having access to financial reports, such as knowing who will be laid off next. Another might be sitting on a board that plans and executes when the next set of building projects will be taking place and thus sharing this with friends who are contractors.  Employees and contractors should understand that accessing and sharing certain information with outside parties might breach their employment and result in legal implications or penalties. 

Remembering to treat or incentivize others when they are carrying out your requests would be another type of power called reward power.  Managers may complement or bonus staff when meeting or exceeding monthly quotas.  Reward power is positively infectious when they are recognized at meetings or other company functions.


Another unique type of power is called connection power, and this is when you can be a resource for people you meet.  One way to do this is to get in the good graces and ask them to introduce them to a particular person, giving you power.  Meeting this person may widen your networking circle or allow you to connect with someone they know that opens a door for you at a company you have been trying to get into.

With the advent of networking from many years ago, even if the person you meet knows someone, they have a relationship that they feel needs your products and services.  This is also popular when you get a referral as that contact who mentioned you already has a relationship and that trust is immediately associated with you.  The critical thing to understand here is that the person will respect you, but if you falter, they will be disappointed in you and weaken the relationship between the preferred. This particular type of power that many don’t use is called referent power.



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