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Gain Power To Advance

Updated: Feb 26, 2020

We are AVA, a macro-learning environment for ambitious professional women. We provide weekly on-line content and timely in-person workshops to build critical workplace competencies. Send this to friends and and share on social using #advancewithava

Power Exists And Must Be Strategically Built

Power is the ability to have influence or to exert your will over others. While there are multiple sources of power, power bases are either formal, like title or position, or informal, coming from charisma or connection for example. No matter where it comes from, power is not magically granted. It must be created, earned, and continuously built.

The power at the top exists only because it is granted by the people it affects. In reality, power is relational and does not belong to any one person...Power is present at every level of society, and the exercise of power is, strategic and productive -'not simply repressive'. Thomas D. Cairn, Power, Politics and Leadership In The Workplace


Power Is Prevalent At Work


Anyone who has been subjected to back-stabbing, favoritism, avoidance, or micro-managing personally knows the pain of abusive power at work. Power in and of itself is neither good nor bad. Those in power get to choose to be self-serving (abuse) or responsible (productive). Many people, and especially women, are taught from early on that power is selfish, bad and is often used for evil. With one-third experiencing sexual harassment and up to 38% experiencing discrimination, women at work have been most negatively affected by abusive power. It's no wonder they see power as a bad thing. And for those of us that thought we could just work harder and do better, work results alone are no match against power.

Many people are uncomfortable with power and the behaviors required to obtain it. That’s a big problem, because research shows that power skills and behaviors matter for career success. Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford University


Learning About Power The Hard Way

One of our AVA founders, Steph Barry, found out the hard way about power and then learned to use it to her advantage. She always thought her hard work, servant leadership and results would open opportunities for her. She found out that company values and leadership behavior are often more about self-preservation. It led to #timesup moments, conflicting values, and a glass ceiling blocking her way. Determined to carve her own path, she learned to see the signs of abusive power early and now uses many of the tools we teach in our workshop to maintain a positive balance of power in her career.


Alex Wilhelm, another AVA co-founder is a former naval officer, helicopter pilot and current professor of leadership and organizational behavior. He shares his experience and perspective:

When I’ve missed the mark professionally, I depended on my attitude, grit, passion, and desire to carry me to my objective. But frequently, I ignored the clues to success right in front of me. Somewhere growing up, I had internalized the adult narrative that ‘being power-hungry makes you self-centered and a really bad person’. So if I wanted to be a good, selfless, caring, honorable, trusted person, why would I compromise myself by playing power games with other people? Unfortunately, this left me in the category of fools. Based on honest self-assessment, research, teaching and consulting on the practice of organizational behavior and management, my new outlook is that anyone (including me and especially women who are steered clear of attaining power) hopes to improve on their career opportunities, then they must embrace power as a necessity and use it to their advantage.

Em-Powering Women At Work

It's Time For Women To Change The Balance Of Power

It is time for women to do something different - to change the power equation at work. We no longer need to disdain, be afraid of, or avoid power. We have the opportunity to strategically balance power at work back in our favor. Additionally, mastery of power can be used to find fulfillment or advance to a higher position. We can attain power and use it how we chose.


The good news is the personal sources of power come more naturally to women. And those sources of power are usually the ones that make for better managers and leaders. In his book Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic points to women's ability to have higher emotional intelligence and self-control as an advantage in better managing their teams and getting real results in an organization. Alice Eagerly's study at Northwestern University revealed:

Women elicit more respect and pride from their followers, communicate their vision more effectively, better empower and mentor their subordinates, approach problem solving in a more flexible and creative way, and are fairer and more objective in their evaluation of direct reports...In contrast, men focus less on developing others and more on advancing their own career agenda.


Learn The Language Of Power With AVA

The world is a competitive place and it is not always fair. Sometimes others play by rules that we aren't even aware exist. It’s like a foreign language: we can be oblivious to what’s going on around us and to us until we learn the language. So what is the language of power?

There is much written on the sources, bases and laws of power. However, power is not taught in business schools. Nor is "power" a popular topic in skills workshops. Men are more often given formal positions of power in the workplace. And it is more acceptable in society for men to use behaviors that are associated with coercive power. So then how do women learn to be comfortable with and more importantly to master power?

Like learning a language, it takes time. It also takes a safe, open, solution-oriented learning environment. And it takes the on-going support of trusted and trustable peers and advisors.


At AVA, Power & Influence is our most important and most rewarding workshop. We use a highly interactive, macro-learning environment and peer support to help you build a positive relationship with power. You will learn to AVA: Assess your own feelings about and current position of power, Visualize your career goal and the power needed to get you there, and to strategically use power to Advance your career. You will leave with confidence in your ability to identify, harness and benefit from the power resources throughout your career. Attendees of our workshop have said:

I really needed this.
Naming the things that are happening helps me understand what is going on.
Now I don't feel like I am alone in my experiences.
Give this a try even if you think you don’t need it.


Master Power For Your Career And Use It For Good

In the words of Sallie Krawcheck in her book Own It, “it’s about embracing and investing in our innate strengths as women - and bringing them, proudly and unapologetically, to work.” When we do, she says,

we gain the power to advance in our careers in more natural ways. We gain the power to initiate courageous conversations in the workplace. We gain the power to forge non-traditional career paths….And we gain the power to invest our economic muscle in making our lives, and the world, better.

What topics do you want to discuss? Let us know in the comments below. #advancewithava

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