Positional Power vs Personal Power

Mar 27, 2012 1 Comment by

Rita Craig CEO of Top Tier Leadership

Ok. A couple key points about power that every leader — and every aspiring leader — should consider…

Power. In the world of business, Power is the ability of a leader to command the respect, attention and desired actions of those who follow. Power allows leaders to make decisions and give directions that people accept and carry out. The composition of a leader’s overall power, however, can be divided into two sub-types of power: Positional Power and Personal Power.

So, what’s the difference?

Positional Power stems from a leader’s title or rank compared to that of the followers under them. Think, “Do what I say, because I’m your boss…I can fire you…I have more money than you.” Positional Power comes from a set of external factors, however, and can be taken away. If the CEO of a company gets fired, that CEO loses the Positional Power that they once held over the rest of the employees.

Personal Power is the combination of positive traits and characteristics a person possesses that makes them naturally appealing to others. Think, “I’ll do what she says because I trust her…because she is smart…she’s done this longer than me…she makes me feel good about myself.” Since Personal Power stems from internal factors such as charisma, intelligence, expertise, experience, self confidence and more, it cannot be taken away.

The bottom line…

Be mindful of these two types of power as you proceed in your career — no matter your rank or title! As you strive for more Positional Power (i.e. raises, promotions, and general advancement up the ladder), be sure to work on increasing your Personal Power. Continually hone your business and leadership skills. Become an expert in your field. Treat everyone with respect and dignity. And, always, always behave ethically.

Remember, people with high levels of Personal Power are able to influence others to follow them, regardless of rank or title. Best of all, people with a lot of Personal Power are often chosen to lead, thereby gaining more Positional Power as a result. And, it just so happens that these people always make the most beloved leaders!

Rita Craig is the CEO of Top Tier Leadership and is a regular contributor to PBLWP. To reach her call 561-775-3396 and be sure to tell your friends you read this on PalmBeachlwp.com.

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One Response to “Positional Power vs Personal Power”

  1. It Takes a (Fashionable) Team | Lindsey's Leadership Blog says:

    [...] of displaying a personal power which would have been easily adapted, our managers displayed expert and referent power, which [...]

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