Which Would You Choose: Power or Influence?

Linda Dulye's picture
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PowerFor some leaders, it's all about the numbers. Not their salary number, though for many that's a big factor. It's the number of direct reports they have and how many boxes sit beneath them on the org chart.

For others, like Bing Gordon, a partner with the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, it's more important to have influence.

My sense is that to be a good operator, you need to be power-hungry. You need to care more about power than prestige, and probably more about power than money, and more about power than intellectual stimulation. And people who are good operators tend to want power so they can get stuff done.

I like having influence. I like being with interesting people and helping them become better and being part of the flow of ideas. And that's a little bit uncomfortable, as a boss. It doesn't make sense to people that the boss, who is kind of a figurehead and maybe a confidence-giving parent figure, just wants to be an experienced helper. As a person of authority, I'm kind of teacher-consultant more than wielder of power.

We often hear power and influence in the same breath, but clearly their not the same thing in Gordon's views.

Where does your management style align: power wielder or influencer?

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