Curley's father, who plays little role in the story, is the most powerful person on the ranch as the owner. Curley is also powerful because he is the boss's son. He is likely to inherit the ranch, and he won't be fired. He has what is called positional power. He gives up power, however, because he bullies the ranch hands, which loses him respect.
Slim is the next most powerful person on the ranch. In some ways, he is more powerful than Curley, because Curley is afraid to cross him and because the other ranch hands trust Slim more than Curley. He has personal, rather than positional, power: people respect him because of the his competency, decency, and strength of character, not because he is the owner's son.
The other ranch hands listen to Slim because he treats them as human beings and isn't out to hurt anyone. They defer to him too: for example, they wait to see if he will object before they go ahead with shooting Candy's old, blind dog.
The other ranch hands don't have much power....
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