4 Ways to be Powerful Without Alienating Others

“Power corrupts.” — Lord Acton

Let’s face it: power can be intoxicating. It often commands respect, envy and fear.  It can even add “height” to an otherwise small personality. Women love it; men crave it. And like money, very few individuals know how to handle it well.

That’s why so many bosses and “shot callers,” despite their lofty titles and take home pay, find their roles to be somewhat ineffective. And probably why there’s a grain of truth to the expression, “it’s lonely at the top.”

Power players are often inclined to believe that they have to be abrasive, loud, overbearing, and even belittling to assert their authority.

Not true.  True leaders are inspiring, not intimidating.

Take for example, President Obama, the most powerful man in America. Whether it’s addressing the public, defending his policies, or providing answers for a Barbara Walter’s interview, he’s strong, controlled, and strategic. You’ll never see him raise his voice or his fist. He makes people feel as if they’re “working with him”, not “for him”. He knows the psychology of motivating people.

And you can, too.

Whether you’re the head honcho at your local office supply place, a P.R. Manager, a regional sales rep, or a crew chief at McDonald’s, here are some pointers on how to be powerful without being a “power fool”:

  • Stay grounded. Recognize that there’s only one God, and you’re not it. As they say, “the bigger they are the harder they fall.” Keep proper perspective.
  • Know that temper tantrums and anger outbursts are almost always an inappropriate response in the workplace. More often than not it causes others to have less respect for you than more. Watch your words!
  • Whenever possible, use humor rather than rants and ridicule to make your point. It’s a technique that works well for T.V. courtroom judge, Greg Mathis. Try it…you might like it!
  • Lead by example. Some of the bosses that got the most out of me were those that gave the most of themselves. Be one of them.

Follow these four tips and you’ll be a power player that wins respect and creates win-win situations for you and those you manage! Carpé diem!


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Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, popular relationship columnist and Managing Editor at Coffeehouseforwriters.com. Formerly an "awesome" public relations professional, she now enjoys the spoils of the entrepreneurial life. Additionally, she is a columnist for Technorati.


  1. Nguyen Truong on the 30th November

    Thank you for your tips.

  2. Matt on the 1st December

    “Recognize that there’s only one God”. I guess millions of polytheists aren’t worthy of note.

  3. Creativity Quotes on the 1st December

    Nice article. Just to add my favorite quote of the moment: “Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” – Sam Walton

    • Jennifer Brown Banks on the 1st December

      Creativity Quotes,

      I like this. And by the founder of Wal-Mart–a great example and success story.

  4. Gabriele Maidecchi on the 1st December

    These are good points if they won’t interfere with the authority a leader needs to have in a work environment.
    What I mean is, being humorous and joking is all fine, but if your employees will start to take everything as a joke rather than serious stuff, your authority will obviously suffer from it.
    Finding a good balance is a key element, and not an easy one. Joking is fine, but when something needs to get done, everyone need to step up and listen.

  5. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 1st December


    I appreciate your position. Humor, just like other “managerial techniques and tactics” have situational relevance. It all depends upon the people, the problem and the task at hand. Thanks for your thoughts, as always. 🙂

  6. Bryce Christiansen on the 1st December

    I think gratitude is another great way to lead without coming off as alienating or demeaning.

    Some of the greatest leaders I’ve had were also the most grateful.

  7. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 1st December


    Great point. Thanks for sharing it!

  8. Karen Lange on the 1st December

    Wonderful points, Jennifer. Good things to remember for all walks of life.

  9. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 1st December


    Lovely to hear from you–always a pleasure!

  10. Steve Sears on the 1st December

    Hi Jen —

    Great points all.

    Some workplace managers should take heed, and indeed I as well when working together with my wife.


  11. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 1st December


    Thanks for your input. I appreciate the feedback.

  12. Sibyl - alternaview on the 3rd December

    Jen: This is a great post and probably something that HR should add to its on-boarding training 🙂 I really don’t think that these types of strategies are discussed enough in the work environment and it is assumed that people will just naturally know how to interact well with their co-workers. The reality is that a significant part of the job is managing other people’s personalities and that is not something that comes naturally to everyone. I thought the point you made about temper tantrums being unacceptable was hilarious because you would think that people would automatically realize that. It always amazes me how people think they can just yell and scream in a business setting and think they are being reasonable. Great article.

  13. Jennifer Brown Banks on the 3rd December


    Great feedback. You’re right–just because someone is in an authoritative position doesn’t mean they have people skills or emotional intelligence. And in the words of Mr. T , “I pity the fool!” 🙂 Thanks for your time.

  14. MundoCaco on the 8th December

    I sincerely believe that we should all be more human and consider the strength of our actions lies in our calm to face any challenges.

    Jennifer, thanks for this beautiful post! 😀

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