"power" and "influence" are two terms that are frequently used interchangeably. These two terms, however, are not synonymous

In this post, we will be discussing the differences between power and influence.

But before we go further, let's define each term.


Power is defined as the ability to cause a change in behaviour with or without the use of sanctions.

It is the ability or potential to influence people's behaviour or thoughts by exerting control over crucial resources.


Influence is the ability to shape other people's thoughts or cause a change in their behaviour without the without using sanction

It can also be defined as a person's ability to persuade others to act or change their thoughts and actions in consideration of the influencer's personal preferences or desires..

Differences Between Power and Influences

1. Power is compelled because it entails the imposition of punishments, whether implicit or explicit.

Influence, on the other hand, is voluntary because it employs persuasion rather than coercion.

2. Intimidation may be used in the exercise of power, but it is not used in the exercise of influence.

3. When it comes to organizational setup, power can employ threats and sanctions to compel people to perform a task, whereas influence can use positive affirmation to urge people to perform their task.

4. Power is a one-way communication because it prioritizes instruction above discussion.

Influence, on the other hand, is a two-way discourse that favours communication above instructions.

5. Power strives in a hierarchical organization whereas influence strives in a feedback system.

6.  Power can create a hostile atmosphere in the workplace, especially if the person in charge frequently uses coercive power.

On the other hand, when used properly, influence can help to create a positive work environment.

7. Building on the previous point, power can lead to high employee turnover in a business, but influence can reduce employee turnover by engaging an organization's staff.

8. Influential people persuade people by changing their beliefs and behaviours, whereas powerful people may exert pressure on others to act in accordance with their wishes.

9. Power may be attached position whereas influence is always attached to a person

Legitimate power, coercive power and reward power are all positional powers while expert power, referent power are all personal powers. Want to know the differences? Read this post.

10. Power may not generate respect especially if it is highly dependent on reward and consequences.

In contrast, Influences produce respect when people act of their own convictions and change of hearts when they admire or follow someone

To sum up, power and influence are related. Indeed,  Influence has been referred to by some authors as a lesser form of power.

However, power can be distinguished from influence in that the former may involve the use of force, whereas the latter does not.

Therefore, the major difference between power and influence is that hat power is the ability to influence other people's behaviors with or without the use of force, whereas influence is the ability to persuade others to change their behavior or perspective.

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