Expanding Your Organizational Influence with the Power Bank

Your ability to influence others will be severely limited if you have little “in the power bank” with them.

By Patrick Curran, Director of the Curran Consulting Group, and Katie C. Kelley, Chief Leadership Coach and Consultant, Legacy Builder Coaching

Are you challenged by the task of influencing your peers or your boss? Without position power, the power your organization gives you to hire, develop, and reward your people—and most important, to hold them accountable for their performance (French, J.R.P. and Raven, B. “The bases of social power,” in D. Cartwright (ed.) Studies in Social Power, Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1959)—it can be very difficult to get the job done effectively. Managing those who are not directly accountable to you can present a dizzying set of dynamics, especially when the person you’re trying to influence has a challenging personality or a different approach to their work than you do. And let’s face it, if you can’t effectively influence these folks today, your chances of moving toward a greater leadership role, or expanding your own company if you’re the boss, decrease with each missed influencing opportunity.  

Your effectiveness in influencing others hinges on the personal power that you establish within each of your relationships. A broad range of influencing strategies becomes available when personal power is high. Personal power is how you influence across your organization’s boundaries. It is based on whether your coworkers respect your character and competence in a given situation.

As a result of our work supporting management within big business, as well as entrepreneurs who are building support teams, we have developed a framework for strategically influencing throughout and beyond organizations. Our foundation model is called Your Power Bank.

Your Power Bank is your collective history with your coworkers, encompassing the trust you have earned, the competence you have demonstrated, the relationships you have built, the values you share, and the favors you have exchanged. To gauge Your Power Bank, you must ask yourself this question: Do your peers and/or your boss respect your character and competence in a given situation? If the answer is yes, then that means you have a high level of credit with them in Your Power Bank, thus reflecting a strong level of personal power within the relationship. If the answer is no, then read on to find out how you can establish greater credit in Your Power Bank and strengthen your personal power today.

Below are the pillars of the the Power Bank (you also can download the graphic below):

Your Power Bank


Personal Attributes


The way you present yourself, your drive, the credibility you have built with coworkers.

Demonstrated Competence


Your reputation as an expert in your field. Your track record for getting things done.

Working Relationships


The relationships you build: maintaining regular, open communication; seeking to understand coworkers’ needs.

Shared Norms and Value

Your overlapping values and norms that serve to transcend boundary differences.

Exchange of Favors


Going out of your way to help others. When resources are scarce, managers are more likely to get what they need if they help coworkers get what they need. These kinds of behaviors won’t last long if not reciprocated.


Rating Your Power Bank

The following exercise will help you uncover what you can work on in order to expand your organizational influence. First, choose three people in your work life with whom you wish you could exert more influence. Based on the five pillars of Your Power Bank, rate yourself “high,” “medium,” or “low” within each relationship. The results will serve as a starting point for you to think about what specific actions you want to work on to strengthen your personal power with these individuals.






Personal Attributes




Demonstrated Competence




Working Relationship




Shared Norms/Values




Exchange of Favors





Your ability to influence others will be severely limited if you have little “in the bank” with them. You have to invest to withdraw, just like a bank.

Patrick Curranis the director of the Curran Consulting Group, an Atlanta-based consulting firm that assists clients in building market-driven organizations. In 2009, Currran’s book, “COBRA the X Factor in Strategy Execution,” revealed best practices learned from more than 30 years of helping clients optimize strategy execution. CCG also designed the COBRA management system based on the best practices of fast-moving consumer goods companies around the world. The COBRA management system has been implemented in the 27 countries of the Hellenic Bottling Company and in Germany, Australia, and New Zealand. Curran can be contacted at pcurr649@bellsouth.net.

Katie C. Kelleyis the chief leadership coach and consultant at Legacy Builder Coaching based in Portland, OR. She specializes in igniting and challenging women to become more effective, inspired business leaders. Influenced by her experiences in New York City as both a psychotherapist and a business professional, Kelley’s approach combines an innate understanding of her clients’ needs with fresh perspective on risk-taking. Kelley is a regular contributor on ABC’s television show, AM Northwest,and her clients include Google, Kaiser Permanente, and KPMG. She can be contacted at Katie@LegacyBuilderCoaching.com and on Twitter at @LegacyBCoaching.

Lorri Freifeld
Lorri Freifeld is the editor/publisher of Training magazine. She writes on a number of topics, including talent management, training technology, and leadership development. She spearheads two awards programs: the Training APEX Awards and Emerging Training Leaders. A writer/editor for the last 30 years, she has held editing positions at a variety of publications and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from New York University.