Difference Between Influence and Power

Influence vs Power

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 in 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.

Power evokes fear, but influence evokes respect. In both the cases, the objective is achieved and the work is done in the manner you want but as soon as fear factor is gone, quality of work suffers. On the other hand, influence has got 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. Power is imposed from the top as when your boss asks you to do a job. You do it in time and in 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. 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. Yet he had hundreds of thousands of followers who were ready to die for his cause or obeyed him blindly.

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.

In brief:

Influence vs Power

• Kids are greatly influenced by their parents and their early teachers. Though teachers have power, parents do not have power which itself differentiates between power and influence.

• Someone new at 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.

• End result of both power and influence is control over others. However, leaders must have both power as well as control and they must learn to use each judiciously.