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The capability to influence, create or deliver is power. It is not a theoretical description as in statutes, as powers & functions. It is live & functional to see, feel & experience. For long we have understood power only as positional power & so we confuse it with authority & end up using the two as synonyms. There can be authority without making it operational because of inability to do so. Like any other skill, the why & how of using power has to be learned. Power without authority & powerless with authority!

Power without authority is not a recent phenomenon, getting known in the public domain now though practiced for centuries with immense success. Most of the religious leaders & social reformers came from this fold. Leaders of different freedom struggles gained prominence in this manner; Nelson Mandela or Gandhi. Environmentalists come this ilk from the pioneers of the Chipko movement to the respected Medha Patkar of our times. They are influencers& yield immense power.

Their is permanence attached to their power, which is missing in case of positional power, which ceases to exist, as you lose the position. Recently, Anna Hazare brought Indian Parliament to its knees, during the India Against Corruption movement. They influence & deliver in an unimaginable way, most of the times a dream. It’s independence, removal of apartheid, sati, untouchability, major milestones in the environmental movement for a sustainable world. Harbingers of change!

They have influenced always governments, the epitome of authority & power emanating out of it & never got influenced by them. Positional power based on authority was supposed to do magic to our lives, has failed miserably in third world & with limited success in the developed world; success has been mainly been in the economic arena. The art of using positional power to make a difference, is still a broadly unknown story.


Sanjay Sahay

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