Power is the capacity to cause an effect – the potential to make things happen. Individuals can have power, but so can groups, organizations, and countries. Using power can lead to its depletion, but can also cause it to grow, depending on the circumstances.
The amount of power that people have depends on the resources to which they have access (power sources – the roots of power), but also on the way they make use of these resources (power approaches – the branches of power).
The Tree of Power model uses the metaphor of a tree to explain how different types of power (fruits) grow out of different approaches to power (branches or shoots) and are fed by different sources of power (roots). The key message is that acquiring resources is necessary, but not sufficient to become powerful. Power results from how the resources are used to influence people. The three different approaches to exerting influence – compliance, conformance, and commitment – lead to very different (and complementary) types of power. Having a portfolio of all six types of power makes people more powerful and gives them the flexibility to use the most effective form in each situation to achieve the effect they wish to realize.
The tree of power consists of roots, shoots, and fruits. The five roots are the following:
These roots are drawn underground, to symbolize how they feed the tree. Above ground, the six types of power (fruits) grow from three different approaches to power (shoots):