Once a person comes into a position of power, he or she has a choice to make. They must decide whether they want to demonstrate what I call “position power” or “personal power.”
While it’s true that someone’s position gives them authority, how they use that authority makes all the difference.
Positional power is when someone uses the power given to them because of their position or role in a way that forces compliance instead of inspiring their people to contribute. An example of this is a sales manager having the attitude, “you’ll do this because I say so and I’m the boss.” This style of power isn’t as successful by itself because it’s based on negative connotations and is ultimately a weakness, not a strength.
Personal power, on the other hand, is developing and using your leadership abilities to inspire your team to take action towards accomplishing the mission. Personal power gives them the ability to guide and not drive.
Why you need both
Talking the best-case scenario, a strong leader must have both personal and positional power. Positional power gives the individual the authority to make decisions and influence positive change. Blending that with personal power means that a leader can get the best out of his or her team. By being an unpretentious manager who recognizes you need your team members’ knowledge and expertise, you are positioning yourself, your team, and your company for better and more sustainable success.
Growing your personal power
Anyone who has been reading my blog or listening to me speak for any amount of time knows I talk a lot about how to be a more effective manager/leader. A lot of what I talk about could be used to grow and enhance one’s personal power.
For example, I talk about how caring about your people makes you a more effective boss. The truth is, none of us operate in a vacuum. As I said above, when you care about each team member and their needs, that strengthens the team. A strong team strengthens the company.
I also outlined six things to do that lets your team know you care, and I think those bear repeating today:
- Never act more like you’re more important than your team
- Show that you care about them personally, not just professionally
- Always back them in front of clients and handle any negative conversations privately
- Be transparent and real
- Take time to listen to them
- Put them in a position to grow more opportunities for success.
Another aspect of personal power is understanding the value of lifelong learning for both you and your team members. If you and your team are not always learning and staying abreast of the changes in your industry, you will, without a doubt, fail. Without a doubt. As the person with the positional and personal power, you need to lead that journey.
Part of that journey is to encourage your team members to grow personally and professionally, and both in their skills and personal leadership.
Another aspect of leading the journey towards lifelong learning is knowing how and when to communicate both with your team and your customers. This is especially true of communicating change before and as it’s happening to both your customers and employees. This will help them adapt and they will continue to be loyal to your brand.