iii) Power V Influence

Influence more important than power

"...if you have power, you're able to change things and you have the ultimate ability to make something happen......with influence you have to try to get other people with power to do something......power is exerted downwards and influence is applied upwards..."
Anne Summers as quoted by Caitlin Fitzsimmons, 2015

"...Power is the ability to force an outcome, versus the power to influence or add to a conversation that may ultimately lead to an outcome..."
Naomi Simson as quoted by Caitlin Fitzsimmons, 2015

Based on this analysis it is suggested that social media has influence rather than power as social media puts pressure on people holding power and influences them to make certain decisions. Some examples:

- Kim Kardashian (US celebrity) influenced Twitter to add an edit feature.
NB Kim Kardashian's following on Instagram (45 m.), Twitter (35 m.) and Facebook (26m.) (2015)

- Taylor Swift (who has 63 m. Twitter followers) used social media to get Apple to reverse its policy of not paying musicians during a 3 months free streaming trial

Once somebody on social media attracts followers who become his/her audience, then they have the ability to have an impact on the audience. Social media influence can be transient as its endurance depends the community. True influence comes from longevity, building relationships and good content.

In looking at power and influence you need to understand the differences between leadership, power and formal authority 

Ronald Heifetz (Harvard University) 

"...defined leadership as helping a community embrace change......a leader is the facilitator of a group that has to confront an issue, though just how facilitation works is a complex matter..." 

Lara Tingle 2018 

But leadership is more than just leading a group discussion!!!! 

"...Wherever the group is headed, though, leadership is about offering a map through an issue, giving people a clear option to deal with the problem. It might involve carousing various factions willing to  compromise......political leadership is not necessarily about having a vision and pursuing it, but about a range of other skills with which to "read" and push the community..." 

Lara Tingle 2018

Consider former US President Lyndon Johnson. He had great political skills which included understanding the politics of the American South and being able to enlist the support of Afro-American leaders like Martin Luther King. This allowed him to oversee major breakthroughs in Civil Rights, including the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. These 2 acts gave Washington the power to end segregation in the South and outlawed the practice of using literacy tests and poll taxes as a way of assessing eligibility to vote. Unlike President Kennedy, who was worshipped for his inspirational speeches, Johnson's skill lay in the mastery of knowing when to act and when not to, ie he 

"...intended to mobilise the nation as a whole to work on issues that had been avoided for nearly 200 years. Yet mobilising the society to tackle hard problems and to learn new ways required far more than fashioning deals in legislature; it required public leadership. Johnson had to identify the adaptive challenges facing the nation, regulate the level of distress, counteract work-avoiding distractions, place responsibility where it belonged and protect voices of leadership in the community..." 

Ronald  Heifetz as quoted by 
Lara Tingle 2018 

For example 

"...President Johnson responded to, and used, protests in Selma, Alabama, in 1965 to advance his cause. Black civil rights protesters, including Martin Luther King, attempted to march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery to register black voters, but were met with deadly violence from local authorities and white vigilantes. Johnson intervened through a nationally televised address on March 15, 1965, to pledge his support for the protesters and promote the voting bill rights. Six days later, 2000 people set out for Montgomery, protected by US Army troops and Alabama National Guard forces that Johnson had placed under federal control, reaching the state capital four days later......Johnston's negotiations during those critical days in 1965 showed mastery by knowing how far he could push at a particular time, and where the barriers were. He also constructed situations that gave his opponents......ways out of positions that had been an untenable for them and everyone else..." 

Lara Tingle 2018

"...we often think that leadership means having a clear vision and the capacity to persuade others to make it real. In this case, Johnson has authored no vision. Johnston's leadership lay in his wherewithal to give meaning to the crisis and avoid the common pitfalls for restoring order prematurely. He let the heat remain high. He kept people's attention on issues generating the heat. He shifted responsibility to those with the problem. He let the dissident voices be heard......and he seized the moment to turn the nation's emerging values into potential legislation..." 

Ronald  Heifetz as quoted by Lara Tingle 2018 

On the other hand, Johnston's policy on Vietnam was a disaster because he

"...took the stand is that leaders should lead and followers follow..." 

Ronald  Heifetz as quoted by Lara Tingle 2018 

Heifetz's ideas on leadership are different to the ones 

"...that argue leaders emerge from specific circumstances, or have a special capacity to see through the smoke of battle to the real target for their attack..." 

Lara Tingle 2018

Some examples of leaders who emerges despite not holding formal positions of authority or power are 

- Gandhi (he was leading campaigns for civil disobedience against political structures in South Africa and India long before he came associated with the Indian National Congress)

- same-sex marriage debate in Australia (2018) was led by a group of women.

NB Many women have displayed leadership, without having the authority and power. In most societies, women are denied the formal authority and power as a basis for leadership. 

There are many examples of people in positions of authority and power that do not exercise "real" leadership.  Just having authority and power does not make them leaders. Many people in positions of power will not confront the difficult issues confronting their organisations or society; like in Australia, Indigenous recognition, population and climate change, Republic, etc are not regarded as issues that need confronting as they have the potential to divide rather than bring people together. Few in positions of "political" power are willing to risk their political capital on such issues. 

Technology impact on power

Some people suggest there is a change in the way power is displayed. Traditionally,

"...power works like a currency: jealously guarded by a few who hold it and disburse it judiciously, from on high. New power - exemplified by movements like #MeToo and # Black Lives Matter - is more like a current: open, fluid, participatory and most powerful when it surges..." 

Brook Turner, 2018 

"...if power in the Greatest Generation (those who grew up during the Great Depression) looked like Organisation Men running big institutions, and the power of the Boomers looked like mass movements organised by charismatic leaders like Steve Jobs and Barack Obama, power these days looks like decentralised networks in which everyone is a leader and there is no dominating idol..." 

David Brooks as quoted by 
Brook Turner, 2018 

"...increasing democratisation of the Internet and access to information has made people's attention span so much shorter; the way they engage with information is so much more immediate and brief...... and distribution channels - media streaming, and any kind of space where content is distributed - have become very reactive. They are in a state of panic about what consumers are already liking. In previous decades media and brands had authority, they defined what it was that people needed to see..." 

Margaret Zhang 
as quoted by Brook Turner, 2018 

"...you can no longer say that power comes in a linear way, top-down. It is held by communities and it is held by individuals who help us understand what is going on and what issues mean and what is changing..." 

Sam Mostyn as quoted by Brook Turner, 2018

Some examples of mass community movements

the Australian November 2017 Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey with a non-compulsory turnout of almost 80% and a "yes" vote of more than 61% for same sex marriage - these types of figures are unprecedented 

#MeToo movement. The movement gained momentum with sensational accusations made by Hollywood stars of gross sexual misconduct by iconic producer Harvey Weinstein. It 

"...has empowered many women to speak up for the first time, either in public, on social media or simply to friends and family telling stories they had secreted, often in shame, for years. In some cases, decades......set on up-ending the intrinsically unequal power relations between the sexes. #MeTo led to the establishment of Time's Up, an organisation funded by Hollywood women who initially promised to raise funds to enable less privileged women to be supported as they challenged sexual exploitation in their workplace. It soon morphed into something broader: an organisation aiming to disrupt existing power structures in all fields. There are likely to be massive and unpredictable outcomes..." 

Anne Summers, 2018 

This movement has resulted in a string of high profile, powerful and supposedly unassailable men, like Roger Ailes (chairman and CEO, Fox News), Bill O'Reilly (presenter, Fox News), Les Moonves (CEO, CBS), Stephen Bittel (Florida Democratic Party), Stephen Wynn (casino owner and finance chairman, Republican National Committee), Alex Kozinski (Federal Appeals Court Judge), Omeed Malik (executive, Bank of America), Charles Dutoit (conductor and artistic director, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra), etc, being subjected to allegations of sexual misconduct and sequentially stripped of their power.

The power of the movement comes from the simplicity of the demand, ie to stop sexual harassment

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