Did you ever notice that some people at work seem to know everything that’s going on? They have a full grasp of the power dynamic and can read the tea leaves? These people have power. They are gaining power not from control and authority, but through connection.
There are 5 simple words you need to know to build this magical power yourself. Ready? Gather close and I’ll tell you the secret…
“What are you working on?”
During random encounters, asking people what they are working on builds your power through connection. As a consultant and curious person, I’ve unintentionally built my power quickly at new clients. Here are some reasons why it works and how to do it.
Listening builds trust. There is a second step to these magic words, you must listen when they answer you. Mouth shut, ears open. When you care about what other people are passionate about, it creates connection. They feel seen and understood. If you’re listening simply to gather intel or give advice, it will have the exact opposite effect. Listen with true curiosity and appreciation.
You can connect people to each other. Once you start to care about what people are working on, you’ll notice opportunities to introduce people. You might be surprised that they don’t already know each other. You might be tempted to create a “process” for people to find each other. Resist the temptation, they won’t use it! Experience tells us that no one uses a system to go find people who are doing similar work. Connection is best handled through human interaction.
You’ll start to find that people come to you to find out who to talk to. You’ll start to get invited to strategy meetings as ‘one of the people who knows how things work.” Your power is building up, and now you’re exposed to even more people to build it even more.
You become well versed in the political landscape. Now you know what people are excited about, and you’ll start to find out what’s blocking them and where there are alliances and misalignments. You’re now on your way to becoming a Power Broker.
Power Broker: a person who deliberately affects the distribution of political or economic power by exerting influence or by intrigue
We’re not going to suggest the ‘intrigue”, however, what you can do is help foster a win-win between parties. You now have the insights to broker agreements, alleviate frustrations and create relationships that innovate.
Some alternative language. You don’t always need to stick to the language. The key is to ask with genuine curiosity. You might try other questions like “What kind of cool stuff are you working on nowadays?” or “What’s exciting stuff are you working on?”
Brain Twist. Today when you are at the coffee machine, in the cafeteria, elevator or anywhere else you bump into random people at work, ask someone what they’re working on. Let us know what possibilities open up from this conversation!