The Many Forms of Power: Crash Course Business – Soft Skills #16

The Many Forms of Power: Crash Course Business – Soft Skills #16

We understand the world through the stories
we tell about it. And power seems to always be on our minds. Of course there’s, “with great power comes
great responsibility” from Spider-Man, while the book Animal Farm has “absolute power
corrupts absolutely.” And Game of Thrones is just a bunch of power
struggles — with dragons! When we talk about power, sometimes we use
phrases like ‘those who have power’ and ‘those who don’t’. But you don’t need to be a king, queen,
or leading a farm rebellion to have power, because everyone has it in some form or another. And power isn’t always a bad thing. It can be pretty… empowering! So today, we’ll be helping you understand
the multiple types of power, how to speak more specifically about it, and how to gain
power. I’m Evelyn from the Internets. And this is Crash Course Business: Soft Skills. [Intro Music Plays] Power is the ability to direct or influence
other people or a series of events. It’s important in business, and life in
general. We need power to persuade others, make a change
in workplace procedures, or even help us avoid being trapped in jobs we hate. And with everything that happens in this world
and in life, it can sometimes feel like you don’t have power. But you do have some. Because power isn’t a singular thing. It doesn’t just belong to ‘head honchos’
like political leaders or CEOs. And it’s never as simple as someone ‘being
powerful’ in a vague, general sense. Dependence isn’t always a bad thing. Being in a relationship or a close friendship
shows us that a little dependence can be nice. It’s good to have a shoulder to cry on or
someone to go see a new movie with if we don’t want to go alone. Dependence is a teeter-totter. Adding or taking away dependency changes the
balance. If the balance is super unfavorable, we might
not be able to assert our needs, and someone might take advantage of us. At work, overdependence makes it more likely
that we have to deal with unfair demands. It could even make us feel stuck in a toxic
workplace, being overworked or treated poorly. We become dependent on others because of three
factors: criticality, substitutability, and centrality. Criticality is how much a resource, like salary,
matters to you. To check for criticality, ask yourself, “how
badly do I need this?” If you’re trying to pay back loans without
a lot of money saved up, or if your work is super important to you, your job would be
pretty critical. So to lessen a job’s criticality, you have
to limit how much you need what your employer’s offering, or increase how much they rely on
you. Like, if you want more power relative to your
company, you can do work they can’t live without, like learning how to use a specific
coding language. Or you can explore hobbies outside of work,
to build a better sense of identity that isn’t only defined by your job. For example, when I worked at an ad agency, I decided to start a YouTube channel. Substitutability is whether you have other
options. To check for it, ask yourself, “can I get
this elsewhere?” Maybe you’ve found that making friends at
work is important to your social life. So you can check how substitutable the job
is by trying to make friends outside of work too. Or if you’re thinking of quitting your job,
it might not feel substitutable because you’re afraid that you won’t find other meaningful
work. So you can decrease your dependence and increase
your job options by networking, updating your resume, and scanning openings every so often
to see what’s out there. Centrality is how you and other people may
be impacted by not having a resource. So that’s the question you have to ask:
“if this stops, how much and how quickly will myself and others be affected?” If you’re only spending money on food and
housing for yourself, and you’ve got a year of savings, then that salary has less centrality
than if you were providing for a family. There are different ways to dial down your
dependance through centrality. If you build up 2-6 months of savings, you
can give yourself some extra time to look around for a job before you quit your old
one. Or if you don’t quit until you have another
job offer secured, you won’t be affected much at all. Balancing centrality, substitutability, and
criticality isn’t easy to do. Dependence is tricky. But as long as you stick to your priorities
and think about what’s valuable to you, it’s manageable. Together, these factors can help shift that
dependency teeter-totter in your favor, so an employer will be dependent on you. And groups of employees are usually able to
build more power than individuals. You know, the lone wolf dies, but the pack
survives. That’s what makes banding together to take
collective action so important, either informally or through a union. A union is a group that employees join to
help make sure a company respects their rights. Unions do things like advocate for employees
during bankruptcies, or hold strikes if members believe working conditions are unfair. They were extremely important during the 1950s,
and sometimes they can be controversial today. But around 10% of the U.S. workforce is unionized. To see how acting as a group can increase
your employer’s dependency on you and minimize your dependency on them, let’s go to the
Thought Bubble. You’re working at a video game development
company, which was pretty exciting when you started! You’ve got great dental insurance and there’s
free coffee and snacks in the breakroom. But the hours are terrible. You’re working 80-100 hour weeks so the
company can have their latest RPG ready by mid-Fall, in time for the Christmas rush. But you don’t have paid overtime, and you’ve
seen the company’s profit statements. You know you deserve more, and you know they
can afford it. Your work is important, but there are hundreds
of applicants for positions like yours. So by yourself, you’re pretty substitutable
from their perspective. That’s why it’s good you’re a part of
a union. When you bring this problem to the leader’s
attention at the next union meeting, you all decide to take collective action. To prove the company can’t function without
you, together you decide to walk-out. Everyone won’t work until your demands are
met. It’s unlikely that all of you will be fired. As a group, you have low substitutability. The HR department can’t hire hundreds of
people at once, especially since a lot of your artists and coders have specialized skills. Plus, all of you have high centrality, especially
since the game’s not fully developed yet. Your company will lose money if orders have
to be put on hold, and they need all of you to get this game done. And because of your union fund that will cover
the work you miss until the strike is resolved, your salary is less central to you. Soon enough, you have extra cash, less horrible
overtime, and the company is still producing good games. They weren’t happy about the strike, but
ultimately you were given what you deserve, which is important. Thanks, Thought Bubble. Changing the balance of that dependency teeter-totter,
by exerting your own control or with collective action, helps build coercive power. Coercive power is all about making credible
threats. We can influence other peoples’ behavior
by having control over some kind of punishment. This power is what your mom used when she
threatened to take away your TV time or wifi password if you misbehaved. At work, it could be threatening to quit or
telling a supplier that you’ll find someone else who can offer a better price. No one likes ultimatums, so people generally
respond pretty poorly to coercive power. So you should only use it as a last resort. And don’t use it if you’re bluffing, because
no one will take you seriously if you don’t follow through. Coercive power and reward power are two sides
of the same coin. Reward power is having control over things
that others want, like really cool projects people want to be a part of, or bonuses. Or elephants. If you expect something and it’s offered
with a condition, like “do this task or lose the promotion,” that’s coercive power. If you didn’t expect something, and it becomes
“if you do this task, you could be offered a promotion,” that’s reward power. Reward power can get pretty complicated, especially
when it comes to creating incentive systems that motivate people. So if you want more advice about that, check
out our episode on SMART Goals. Like coercive power, reward power only motivates
someone if you follow through and aren’t asking too much of them. Asking for the impossible is defeating, not
motivating. Plus, reward power can be limiting. Once we get a reward, it’s not really a
motivator anymore. Separate from threats and incentives, you
can use status to build legitimate power. This stems from you having the right to instruct
people, and them having a duty to follow through — like if you’re a project lead or a manager. If you want your legitimate power to actually
mean something, then you’re going to need to make sure you build trust and act fairly. Don’t abuse your privilege. And if having status doesn’t sound possible
right now, that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. You can build charismatic power instead, which
we touched on when we talked about emotional influence. You can increase charismatic power by building
respect and being well-liked. People are motivated to do things for people
they like, especially if they believe in their vision. Kind of like Steve Jobs’s reality distortion
field. Basically, his charisma and leadership got
people to believe in him. But be careful not to use charismatic power
negatively. Also like Steve Jobs, who used that same distortion
field to take credit for others’ ideas. And you can build expert power just by knowing
your stuff. People will trust your advice on something
complicated that can’t be learned easily. You’ll slowly build up this kind of power
by learning a lot about your field, networking with experts, and finding opportunities to
show that you’re knowledgeable — like giving an awesome presentation. But be careful not to oversell yourself, manipulate
anyone, or give advice that isn’t reliable, because then you’ll lose whatever expert
power you managed to build. Now, power is complicated. And working on just one kind of power often
isn’t enough to shift that teeter-totter and give you control. Like, you can’t rely on charismatic power
alone, because we’re all human and some people just won’t like you. Or if your company has layoffs, you’ll lose
any legitimate power you had. Power comes at a cost — whether it’s time,
money, energy, or opportunities. So we have to make sure we consider our reasons
for pursuing it. It can be used to transform organizations
and improve lives, or it can be abused. So use the skills we’ve taught you to be
a fair, thoughtful leader who thinks through decisions. And watch out for building power for power’s
sake. It’s not inherently a bad thing. But becoming power-focused can make anyone
lose sight of what they wanted to do with it in the first place. So, as you find your power, remember: You can decrease your dependence by asking
questions about criticality, substitutability, and centrality. Being aware of how others perceive you is
the key to building trust and your reputation. Power isn’t a vague construct, and you most
likely have power you don’t recognize. Consider your reasons for gaining power, and
use it wisely! If you don’t know what you’re going to
do with all that power, the clock’s ticking and you’re just counting hours, then we
suggest you spend time taking care of yourself. So to end the series, we’ll be showing you
how to avoid burnout and find balance. Thanks for watching Crash Course Business. If you want to help keep all Crash Course
free for everybody, forever, you can join our community on Patreon. And if you want to learn more about status
and societal power structures, check out this Crash Course Sociology video about social

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Hey crash course! I've been watching your videos for a long time, I recommend it to friends and they all love it too. We've made a list of some suggestions on possible future series for CC:

    Writing Skills
    Sustainable Development
    Natural History (Eons collab!)
    Artistic Skills
    Art History
    Physical Geography
    Continent-focused History (like the Europe one)
    Philosophy 2
    Author, place or genre-focused Literature (Tolkien fan trying to sneak in a Crash Course Tolkien here)
    Social Skills

    We think that all of them would be very interesting subjects to tackle, hope our suggestions are good. Continue the amazing work!

  2. Power, 1) Money, CEO
    2) expertise, teacher
    3) Force , Police ( Military )
    5) Position or rank( pope or president)

  3. Power is how you influence others. That's why keep yourself at check and do good and meaningful deeds to others.

  4. I think power is a great thing, but it's very important to consider how it is obtained. For instance, wind and solar are great while coal and oil are not.

  5. THIS…is crucial. I am working as a high school counselor and currently moving toward purchasing a 3 flat.

    Being able to have additional steady and reliable money coming in will allow you to move more fluidly. You won’t be beholden to an employer and in today’s society the employer definitely has the upper hand which is why so many millennials are frustrated.

    Unions are all but obsolete and the special interest groups are making sure they stay low in numbers. If more people unionized things would be better in pay and working conditions but there are draw backs in perceived fairness.

    Then again, in non-union companies you can still be screwed out of a promotion because the boss likes this or that person better than you even though your work is better than the other person.

    I was HR for several years and I can say in 2019 you need to have something YOU can use to create money so you aren’t chained to a job literally.

    Also, in America race is also a HUGE factor in power dynamics within the workplace. The additional dynamic of being non-white (and worst of all black) in a workplace throws a lot of this into an even harder situation.

  6. Being granted absolute power corrupts absolutley. If you worked really hard and obtained power, its not likely you'd abuse it.

  7. "With great power must come great responsibility." and "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." are things that I think of every day and have on post-it notes above my desk. I think of George Washington and how he a) Refused the position of King and became president instead and b) refused to be president more than two terms, even though he was super popular and totally could've.

  8. I just want to do something with my life:-/

    I think the biggest power is influence. Money allows you to afford the things you want to do, but if no one is on board, and it's detrimental- what's the point?

  9. I like your channel very much and therefore I ask you to add to your videos you especially the categories of business Russian subtitles. thanks

  10. I must admit I didn't quite grasp the difference between criticality (need) and centrality (impact). Based on how you described them (need for money / impact of not having money), and "improve" them (have extra funds saved up), they seem to be essentially the same thing. Can you elaborate?

  11. Wow I am shocked gootube didn't take this video down the establishment took years to destroy all the Unions …it is why I am living in poverty after only making 9000 hrs in the Union before becoming disabled and you need 10,000 hrs to get your retirement …good old Teamsters

  12. "care of self" im so concerned that I shouldnt show concern to things that dont make me feel my 100% that I made sure of it

  13. The game-dev example doesn't work because the employee isn't expendable since the time to train a new employee and get them up and running with a deadline looming is likely to cause a lot of problems and possibly even kill the project depending on the employee's job.

  14. Evelyn!! This is crazy because I'm writing about the different forms of power and was just thinking yesterday, somebody should do a video on this and here you are! I'm a proud supporter of you and Say It Loud! This just made my day 😁

  15. Always be looking for a new job, as that is a kind of power you give yourself. You can always refuse an offer, but you won't know what's out there that could be better without looking. You may suddenly have the freedom to leave from what's coming in six months that is making the rounds in the rumor pool. If something happens that you have to quit right then or get let off, you might be months to most of a year into the interview process for that one company that takes a year to make a decision. Also, you start getting so used to the process that the stress of interviews and applications plummets.

    You might find the perfect position and work somewhere long enough to get your gold watch. Applying to new jobs does not prevent that. Just keeping your options open.

  16. If you want learn about power, I recommend listening/Reading 'The 48 laws of power' by Rober Greene. It's on YouTube too.

  17. In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,

    Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousand-fold.

    We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old

    For the union makes us strong.

  18. Hi, i have a question. Does anyone know how to apply for providing translations for crash course? I’d love to translate subtitles in dutch and i see that a lot of videos don’t have dutch subtitles. Thanks in advance.

  19. I don't get it. Why would you need to balance those three factors (centrality, … — @ 4:10)? And balance them against what exactly? Not against each other right? That would make no sense at all.
    Shouldn't we simply strive to minimize the power others hold over us, and or keep it to a degree we find acceptable? So you would for example let someone you trust, hold more power over you than someone you don't trust.
    Is that what you're referring to? Or was this about what was brought up later in the video, about balancing your power (unions) against the power of others (e.g. your employer)?

    I honestly find this part very confusing and/or worded really poorly.

  20. Power resides where men believe it resides. It's a trick. And a very small man can cast a very large shadow – Varys GoT

  21. Hey Crash Course, I love your videos and watch them every night before bed!
    I was really hoping you’d restart covering more literary topics though!!!

  22. A book I'm currently reading on Amazon kindle titled Cerebral Currency brought me here. Great book! I highly recommend for peeps like me in their twenties. It made me start doing research on a lot of personal development strategies.

  23. My boss loves randomly saying "UNLIMITED POWEEEERRRR" in a sinister way, should I report him to HR?

  24. Didn’t they unionize car washes in New York? How did that go for those workers? Don’t let this kind of thing get you fired…..

  25. It is so hard to listen about power from the person who can’t handle the will power and get to the DIET!

  26. Nuremberg Trials

    Korean War

    Cold War

    Cuban Missile Crisis

    Vietnam War

    Gulf War (1990-1991)

    Iraq War (2003-2009)

    Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

  27. Hello crash course love you and I see your vedios from long time i have watched your vedios 127 times especially Mr john green i have some topics on world history plz reply to me
    Wars and Conflicts

    The Crusades.

    Thirty Years War.

    Franco-Spanish War.

    American Revolution – Revolutionary War.

    War of 1812.

    American Civil War.

    Mexican-American War.

    Spanish-American War.

    World War 1

    World War 2

    Concentration Camps


    Nuremberg Trials

    Korean War

    Cold War

    Cuban Missile Crisis

    Vietnam War

    Gulf War (1990-1991)

    Iraq War (2003-2009)

    Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

    American History

    Colonial America

    Plymouth Colony

    Massachusetts Bay Colony

    Pequot War

    King Philip's War


    Civil Rights Movement

    Compromise of 1850

    Louisiana Purchase

    Gadsden Purchase

    Alaska Purchase – Sewardís Folly

    States Admitted to the Union

    Presidential Inaugurations

    Women's Suffrage

    Illinois Politics

    Health Care Reform

    Watergate Scandal


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