Background Note | HBS Case Collection | March 2001 (Revised July 2007)

Power and Influence: Achieving Your Objectives in Organizations

by Kathleen L. McGinn and Elizabeth Long Lingo


Power is the potential to mobilize energy. This rather neutral definition does not address the issues of how to exercise power or to what ends. The answers to these questions determine the ultimate value of an individual's power. This note is written to help readers analyze the social system in which their power exists and their influence will be used. Following the guidelines presented, a careful analysis of the social system in which an individual operates, and an assessment of that individual's desires and objectives within the social system, may help maximize the development of power and the effective use of influence.

Keywords: Organizational Culture; Personal Development and Career; Power and Influence; Social and Collaborative Networks; Value;


McGinn, Kathleen L., and Elizabeth Long Lingo. "Power and Influence: Achieving Your Objectives in Organizations." Harvard Business School Background Note 801-425, March 2001. (Revised July 2007.)