Sunday, August 17, 2008

Signs of Power

When you're not dealing with a person who occupies a job that has inherent and well-known power [e.g. president of the United States], which of the following choices would be the single, most reliable signal that a person has a lot of power?

  1. The location of the person's office?
  2. The size of the person's office?
  3. The opulence of the person's office?
  4. How difficult it is to meet with the person?
  5. The number of personal assistants?
  6. The titles of the person's direct reports?
  7. The type and size of the person's desk?
  8. The person's title?
  9. The person's reputation?
  10. The person's intelligence?
  11. The person's accessibility to the top person?
  12. The person's dress and demeanor.
  13. The person's salary.
  14. The person's vocabulary.
  15. The person's briefcase.


Kurt Harden said...

A friend and I were just discussing this last night over a few drinks on my back porch. Reputation. It is bigger than titles, crosses salary, is fueled by accessibility, intelligence and reliability. It is to be protected above all the other items on the list. But how many look at titles, dress and lack of accessibility? My two cents. Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...


Except intelligence, all the rest can be bought. Intelligence generally can't be determined from afar (other than by reputation).

Unknown said...

Without a doubt it is access to power or the person at the top. The rest is just window dressing and says more about personality or culture of the organization.

Anonymous said...

Interesting question.
I choose reputation, but I'd like to add an alternative: the person's arrogance (or is it included in demeanor?)

Hoots said...

It was my good fortune to get a lot of fantasies out of my way early in my working career. By the second year I had an office, secretary, pocket tape recorder (1972), and was expected to fly out of town, rent cars, live out of a suitcase and submit expense reports. I learned early how very boring and superficial that becomes if you need to be hands-on and flexible.

I also observed that important and powerful people toted less and dressed more comfortably than me. I had to carry a briefcase and wear laced shoes, but when I saw someone wearing loafers and carrying nothing more than a lightweight document carrier (or nothing but a newspaper) I knew I was looking at someone important.

Anonymous said...

understanding that power is the ability to influence important decisions, I would choose the accesibility of the top person.

DarkoV said...

Permit me to throw a curve on the "accessibility to top person".

When I see the top person coming down to a person's office rather than vice versa, I know that person has got something going on. He/she must have something worthwhile to share with the big boss man if the latter is willing to use up shoe leather to tromp down for a visit.