Makarios Consulting Blog

Personal vs. Positional Power

You’re the boss.  You have the title, the responsibilities…and the unlimited power that comes with being the boss, right?  Wrong.  Two types of power go along with a leadership role: positional and personal. Positional power is an automatic gain; you have certain abilities and authority that are guaranteed while you retain your position; personal power takes more work, but is consequently much more beneficial.

Many times business people rely on their positional power to lead others. Positional power relates directly to your place in the organizational chart and the authority that comes with it. You can have the power to fire and hire, reward and sanction, and command and  direct. Your team will respond to positional power—but if positional power is all you have, you will likely develop a staff of automatons. They will you give you only what is required of them, and not one bit more.

High-impact leadership requires something beyond just a nameplate on your door or a title on your business card. It requires personal power.

Your organization does not formally assign personal power to you.  Your staff grants it to you. It is earned based on who you are as a person. Personal power relates to your integrity, your willingness to follow through on promises, the respect you demonstrate for others, your trustworthiness, and your readiness to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Personal power originates from within yourself, making it much more potent than positional power. For example, with positional power you can remove obstacles that stand in the way of your team.  You can make decisions that will streamline execution and workflow. But your personal power is what will inspire people to engage 100 percent in your business’s goals and vision. When people say, “She got more out of me than I ever thought I had,” or “I’d do absolutely anything for him,” they are speaking of personal power.

If you want to be a truly effective leader, you must work on your personal power. Making a difference in people’s lives, influencing change, and taking your organization to the next level are all matters of character that lead to professional success. You cannot simply put on a suit and be a leader. It takes more than that.

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