Win the power you deserve at work.

Wanting more of it doesn't make you a megalomaniac or would-be dictator. Most people at every level want more influence in their workplace, if only for the freedom it brings in making decisions about their goals and careers.

To gain the power you need, try this advice:

  • Use your authority actively. No matter what your job is, you have some power to make decisions. Don’t ask for permission over actions that are legitimately your responsibility, and demonstrate your good judgment by making smart choices that help your co-workers and your employer.
  • Recognize people. Even if you’re not a manager, you can build your reputation as a leader by thanking people for their assistance, pointing out examples of high performance to other managers, and showing your appreciation for your co-workers’ efforts to help the organization succeed.
  • Find a specialty. Become an expert at some important function within your organization. Once you become the go-to person for solving specific problems, people will look to you for help and leadership in other areas.
  • Show your initiative. Don’t wait for managers to tell you what to do. Launch a pilot project on your own to help your organization achieve its goals. Make suggestions for developing new products or cutting costs. Let everyone know you’re committed to making a difference.
  • Expand your network. The more people you know, the more influence you have. Reach out beyond your usual circle of friends and co-workers by getting active in industry groups and community organizations. Even if your contacts aren't directly involved in your business, you’ll gain access to ideas and relationships that will benefit you throughout your career.
  • Learn to speak powerfully. Your ability to communicate is key. Here's one strategy: When you want to inspire, don't get too tied up in facts and figures. "We beat all out sales projections last quarter" has more impact than "Our sales were up 27 percent last quarter". Specific data is fine when people need details, but show you leadership potential by drawing them toward the big picture.