In lecture this week we observed our lay beliefs about power and influence and came to a rather sobering collective realization: That despite our diversity of backgrounds and experiences we all share negative beliefs about power, who has it, and how it is used. In this brief video, I will discuss where these beliefs come from, and why in particular, our beliefs about power are so negative.

Empirical research suggests that power is based on two distinct dimensions of social behavior. The first dimension is Strength, your tendency to innovate, push ideas forward, your willingness to gain power, and your persistence in the face of obstacles. The second is Connection, your capacity to build alliances and relationships, to pursue collective goals and care about others and their outcomes. Effective use of power, that is, power used for influence and impact is a product of both strength and connection. Figuring out how you can generate both aspects of power is key for developing a personal pathway to leadership.


In this brief video we will discuss how each one of us, with our unique talents, cultural background, and abilities can express strength during those unique situations where an expression of strength is what’s required.

The Reflected Best Self Exercise

As part of understanding your path to power you will complete the Reflected Best-Self Exercise (RBS). The RBS is a multi-step process wherein you begin to understand and see yourself at your best, based on your reflections on feedback from a diverse set of people. This process involves gathering data in the form of short anecdotes about times when you were at your best from former classmates and colleagues, friends and family members. The RBS encourages you to create a developmental agenda for engaging your reflected best-self and expanding your capacity to add value in academic, professional, service and social environments. We will focus on how to use the exercise to guide your thinking about the best professional contexts for you in the long-term in your future career. For several years now, alumni have noted that this exercise was one of the most powerful experiences they had at SOM. The first two steps of the RBS must be completed prior to your first day at SOM.

All the information you need to complete the assignment is in this document:  The Reflected Best-Self Exercise


The Power Profile: Self and Peer Surveys

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is a key to better understanding your own personal path to power. Before you arrive at the first day of class in Power and Politics please complete the power profiles survey assignment. For the assignment you must 1) fill out the power survey yourself and 2) have at least one other co-worker or peer fill out the power peer survey. We will use both of these responses to create a power profile for you that you can use to chart your own personal path to power. Turning in your power profile late may limit your ability to receive feedback during the course. Your self and peer portions of the power profile must be completed prior to August 28th, 2017.

You can fill out your own self-assessment of the power profile here (allow for 15-20 minutes): POWER SELF

You should select at least one peer or co-worker, someone who has recently worked closely with you. They should fill out the brief peer-assessed power profile here (which will take them less than 5 minutes): POWER PEER