Personal Power trumps Positional Power

13 06 2013

“Leadership in today’s world requires far more than a large stock of gunboats and a hard fist at the conference table.” ~Hubert H. Humphrey


Guns and a hard fist give you one sort of power… Positional power.  That’s your  job title, your power to give good or bad appraisals, your power as a parent to say “because I said so”.  However, positional power can be taken away.  If you solely rely on this power, you’re more likely to have it taken away (for poor performance, for example). 

 Personal power is internal to you.  It’s the wisdom you gain learning from your mistakes.  It’s the loyalty of an employee who says “I’ll follow you anywhere”.  It’s your ability to take on a challenge with a level head.  This power will follow you as your career evolves, and it cannot be taken away from you.  So, instead of saying “do this job, because I said so”, try “when you get a chance, can you please do this job”.  Either way, your employee will do it, but one way will create resentment, and the other will build your personal power base.  You’ll find that as your personal power grows, people will be more likely to look your way for guidance when the stuff hits the fan… and I don’t just mean your staff.

 Reserve the hard fist pounding on the table for when you REALLY need to make a point.  Bursts of emotion are not always bad, but when you use them, they should be few and far between, and make the people around you open their eyes wide, and take notice… 



Rubes cartoons used with permission.




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