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Team Dynamics: Dealing with Power and Influence

1. Overview

  • Power and influence are used to get others to take action; power is based on positional authority while influence is based on relationships
  • Leaders use various sources of power to get others to act or change behavior
  • Some methods of influence are more effective than others
  • The amount of force used to influence, as well as the amount of followers’ buy-in determines whether you’ll get resistance, compliance, or commitment
  • Individuals can employ numerous tactics to increase their influence

2. Difference Between Power and Influence

  • Power is  capacity to get others to act based on  positional authority that is exercised over others; often leading to resentment 
  • Influence is the ability to modify how a person develops, behaves, or thinks based on relationships and persuasion; often leading to respect

McIntosh & Luecke (2011)

3. Various Sources of Power


  • Legitimate: ability to request certain behaviors of others based on title, roles, or position (elected/ appointed)
  • Reward: ability to control the allocation of rewards valued by others and to remove negative sanctions
  • Coercive: ability to apply punishment (i.e., peer pressure) or take away items of value
  • Expert: ability to influence others based on the possession of valuable knowledge or skills
  • Referent: ability to influence others because the leader is admired and respected
  • Information:  ability to influence based on access to and control over distribution of information
  • Ecological: ability to influence how tasks are organize or the ability to alter the team’s physical environment

Source: Harper et al.

4. Various Methods of Influence


Yukl & Tracey (1992)

5. Consequences of Influence Methods

Source: Adapted from Fallbe & Yukl, G. (1992), p. 647.

6. Tactics to Increase Influence

  • Offer assistance
    • Decrease workload, improve quality of work, help with goal attainment, or make others feel appreciated
  • Stand out as a source
    • Offer valuable information, resources, or expertise
  • Step in to resolve conflicts
    • Guide the team toward a common goal; solve problems to keep the team on track
  • Persuade team members think differently
    • Frame issues in different ways to lead to discovery of  alternate solutions or new opportunities
  • Go above and beyond
    • Collaborate, contribute to individuals, and support the team
  • Show interest in others
    • Indicate your understanding of other people’s needs and interest

7. Additional Reading

  • Falbe, C.M., & Yukl, G. (1992) Consequences for managers of using single influence tactics and combinations of tactics. Academy of Management Journal, 35(3), 638-652.
  • Kokemuller, N. (n.d.). Five Levels of Influence in Leadership.  Retrieved from
  • McIntosh, P., & Luecke, R. (2011). Increase your influence at work. New York: American Management Association.
  • Yukl, G. & Tracey, J.B. (1992). Consequences of influence tactics used with subordinates, peers, and the boss [Electronic version]. Retrieved from:

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