Difference Between Influence and Power

Influence vs Power


Power and Influence are two terms between which a number of differences can be identified. Both Power and influence are attributes that we come across very early in our lives. You must have heard interviews of celebrities where they talk about the person who held the greatest influence on their lives. Surprisingly, for a vast majority, the person having the greatest influence turns out to be either father or mother. But fathers or mothers are certainly not very powerful, are they? This means that power and influence are separate entities contrary to common perception. Though many a times it looks like the person with authority is influential because of his power, but often it is vice versa. There are differences between power and influence though their ultimate purpose or objective is the same, and that is to control others or to get them to do things you want them to do. This article attempts to highlight the differences between the two terms while elucidating each term.

What is Influence?

Influence can be defined as the ability to create an impact on the beliefs and actions of an individual. Influence evokes respect. Unlike Power, influence contains such a magic that those under the influence keep working in the desired manner even in the absence of the influential person. Influence is a desirable trait in any leader. No secretary of state has been more powerful than Dick Chaney in US. This was because of the influence he had over the then President George Bush. Mahatma Gandhi was the most influential personality ever to have breathed in India. All the power, he had, was derived from his influence. He had no post, no power from the top. He had hundreds of thousands of followers who were ready to die for his cause or obeyed him blindly. This highlights that Influence is a very powerful quality.

Difference Between Power and Influence - Example of Influence

What is Power?

Power can be defined as the authority to get something done through an individual. This usually evokes fear. Both power and influence can be used to achieve a particular goal such as the completion of a task. However, since power is often associated with fear, there is a tendency for the task to be completed poorly. Especially, when the person, who uses the power, is absent, the quality of work decreases. Power is imposed from the top as when your boss asks you to do a job. You do it in time and the manner that your boss has asked you to do, but you do it more out of fear than any love or respect for him. You do the job because it is your duty, and you are fearful that you might get reported if you do not complete the job. Some people are powerful because of their influence. However, most derive their power from the post they have got. In the modern society, we see people abuse their power merely to get things done. This abuse of power is not only immoral, but also harms the entire society. What leaders need to cultivate is to accumulate both power and influence, and learn to use both judiciously and appropriately. They must realize that misapplication of either can result in the loss of both.

Difference Between Power and Influence - What is Power?

What is the Difference Between Influence and Power?

  • Kids are greatly influenced by their parents and their early teachers. Though teachers have the power, parents do not have the power that itself differentiates between power and influence.
  • Someone new to the job feels the power of his boss and is fearful and does all the tasks out of fear. It is when he comes under the influence of the boss that his productivity increases further.
  • Result of both power and influence is control over others. However, leaders must have both powers as well as control, and they must learn to use each judiciously.

Image Courtesy:

1.Mahatma_Gandhi,_close-up_portrait [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

2.”Canadian POWs, Dieppe”.[Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons