How to Measure Power

October 17, 2019 Evan Theys

Power is not just held by those in positions of authority thanks to job title but is a personality trait that we all possess to some extent. But how can we measure power in our work colleagues and candidates? 

power as measured by talent assessment


Think of those holding power at work and your mind might run to power-hungry, megalomaniac types. Power is not just held by those in positions of authority because of job title but is a personality trait that we all possess to some extent. Consider, for example, a group of individual contributors. Who are the people keen to be in charge and pushing themselves forward, and who is content with simply being a team player and leading by example?

A person's preference for either taking control of a group of being more of a team player and leading by example, has a strong impact on the workings of a team. This important dynamic is commonly explored in selection and development activities. So, how can it be measured?

The ADEPT-15® personality model covers 15 aspects of personality which are arranged into 6 broad workstyles. The Power aspect or dimension is partnered with Ambition and together, these two dimensions form the Achievement workstyle. This workstyle explores internal motivations and how individuals expend their effort.

How is Power Seen in Behavior?

The Power dimension measures the extent to which a person is interested in leading and having influence over others as opposed to being more of a contributor and allowing others to take control. A score in either direction on the Power dimension has both potential positives – and potential watch-outs. Take a look at some of the points to leverage, as well as some of the areas to watch out for.

The Leverage Points

Those scoring high on the Power scale are likely to be:

  • Motivated to take the lead and to be in charge.
  • Confident in their ability to make tough decisions.
  • Able to hold others accountable.

Those scoring low on this scale tend to be:

  • Good team players.
  • Leading by example rather than through direct authority. 

The Watch-Outs

Watch out for the following with high-scorers on Power:

  • Less willing to take direction from others, regardless of others’ authority.
  • Overly interested in organizational politics and accumulating authority and influence.

For the low-scorers on Power, watch out for:

  • Aversion to making difficult decisions which have broad implications at work.
  • Reluctance to tell others what to do and to hold them accountable. 

The Role of Power in the Workplace

By understanding how a person is likely to want to lead control a team or group, we get an insight into both team and leadership styles, as well as other areas of work.

Influencing Others

Because those with high Power are confident, willing to engage in organizational politics, and interested in gaining control, they are typically seen as highly capable influencers and can change others’ perspectives and actions.

Providing Direction

Those with high Power scores are much more willing to be directive compared to others. As such, they will be more comfortable and keen to provide directions and set goals for a team.

Coaching Others

Individuals that score highly on Power are more inclined than others to want to lead and direct others. Given this, they will be more likely to provide the leadership and direction that would enable others to improve their skill sets and develop their capabilities.

Compensating for an Individual’s Power Score

We have looked at how Power as a single construct is portrayed in behavior at work, and how there are both positives and negatives to this trait. Let us now consider how scores on other ADEPT-15 dimensions can compensate for a person’s Ambition score and shape how it is behaviorally displayed.

When Power scores are low, we need to look at other scales:

  • Higher Assertiveness can help ensure low scorers are resolute, strong minded, and confident in their decisions and choices. Further, high Assertiveness scores can offset low scorer’s propensity to tell others what to do and ensure they’re directive and willing to hold others accountable.

When an individual has a high score on the Power dimension, you may like to look elsewhere in the profile for:

For more about assessing the preference for power in your candidates and employees, take a look at our personality questionnaire ADEPT-15®

 

About ADEPT-15®

ADEPT-15® is the most advanced, secure, and award-winning* personality test available. With over 50 years of personality, leadership, and psychometric research combined with an adaptive approach to assessment design, ADEPT-15® measures 15 personality traits critical to successful workplace performance. It looks at our preferences, work styles, and tendencies as well as what gives us energy and our possible blind spots. It indicates our strengths and areas for development as well as the leadership style we may use, and how others may see us.

*M. Scott Myers Award for Applied Research & International Personnel Assessment Council Innovations in Assessment Award

About the Author

Evan Theys

Evan serves as the leader for Aon's Assessment Solutions Product Development team in North America. In this role, he manages and supports the development of innovative, forward-thinking assessment solutions, and partners with leaders across Aon to develop the strategy for the global products portfolio as well as bringing new products to market.

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