The 30 Main Types of Power at Work

article articles by larissa framework leadership power wayfinding Nov 18, 2022

Sometimes a map gives us a whole new perspective.


Throughout this year, we’ve seen the heart-centered leaders in our community experience enduring shifts in their ability to perceive power after seeing and working with this detailed version of the Wayfinding Power Landscape that we developed in January. This impact is hugely significant since the widespread collective understanding of power is so low — what it even is, how it works, how to interact with it in regenerative ways, and how we're each constantly conducting power through our lives. Advancing embodied power literacy (not just intellectual power literacy) is critical for change agents, who can often have a conscious or unconsciously conflicted relationship with power. To transform systems, we must understand and appreciate how power moves within us, not just around us.


As one Wayfinding community member recently said, "I can't unsee this."

So we're excited to share these 30 main types of power that have the largest influence on all of us at work as leaders, teams, and organizations to amplify your efforts and capacity to steward Power that Serves the Whole. 

For some initial orientation, we define power as the capacity to move energy through systems, and power can exist in 2 main forms — Power that Serves the Whole & Shadow Power.  In the diagram below you can see general descriptions of how these two forms of power express in the 5 scales of the power landscape. Note that each of the 30 types of power listed above can be expressed in the forms of Power that Serves the Whole & Shadow Power. All humans experience and express these two main forms in different combinations across the 30 types, and pro tip: Shadow Power ≠ Power Abuse.  

 We invite you to be curious about how this applies to you as a beginning:

  • What do you notice first? What jumps out for you?
    • In particular, notice what happens in your body as you receive this map. What lights up or relaxes, and what do you clench in response to?
  • What feels familiar and what feels unfamiliar?
  • Where do you see your own gifts in this map in how you express Power that Serves the Whole?
  • Where do you feel your own Shadow Power expresses most? 
  • What types of power are you wanting to develop in this next stage of your leadership? 

If some power types seem missing to you, we chose these 30 because they felt like root types of power. Namely, powers that when combined give rise to other familiar forms like Team Power or Communication Power. And we see the powers of Love, Embodiment, and Culture spanning the whole landscape. Those three powers are each too far-reaching to be contained in any one sphere or scale of life. There is so much richness and information contained in this map, like a matryoshka doll, that unpacks and expands the more we work with it, and this is just a first taste.


We're excited to hear what it inspires in you

Start by using the Power Landscape to understand yourself and your own relationship to power first. It is deep, lifelong work.

Share it with friends and colleagues to spark curiosity and conversation. If you share on social media, we'd love to answer questions if you tag us to bring us into the conversation.

Yet beware of the common impulse to primarily use this map to diagnose others first, specifically their Shadow Power. This can arise from the hurst we've experienced or the blockages we see in the systems all around us. If you feel that inclination — pump the brakes — and start with you. We suggest this not to give a hall pass to power abuse, but to check the impulse to place power outside of ourselves. The work of engaging power is first and foremost about taking responsibility for how we individually express or deny or own power.


Where to go from here?

If you want to take the next step to dive in and learn more:

  • Check out this video on YouTube that explains why understanding what power is and how it works is critical to stewarding meaningful change as leaders, as well as having a fulfilling life.  
  • We invite you to start with the potent immersion available in our self-paced Power at Work program, which includes two self-assessments to understand how you embody Power that Serves the Whole and Shadow Power in addition to ~6 hours of rich video content based on 40+ years of expertise exploring power.
  • If you want depth support tailored to you and your journey with power as a leader, feel free to contact us about executive coaching.


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