What is the Source of Your Power?

Some leaders drag a team of horses behind them. The horses are all pulling at their bits and struggling in different directions. Other leaders are running with their horses. The horses don’t have bits in their mouths, and they are all moving in the same direction. The difference lies in the leader’s source of power.

Determining the source of your power can help you to develop trust in your working relationships. There are two types of power in leadership, namely positional power and personal power.

Positional power can be compared to leading the horse to the water to drink. You can lead the horse to the water, but you cannot force it to drink. If you are a leader in an organisation, the organisation gives you power. The amount of your power is determined by the organisation’s rules, your level of authority and your responsibilities.

Personal power means influencing the horse to walk to the water for a drink. The people you interact with are the source of your personal power. Your personal power is based on your behaviour and who you are; it is therefore earned. As the trust in your relationships with people grows, your personal power increases.

Here are a few tips that could help you to earn personal power:

  • Clearly explain your expectations of the other person.

  • Help the other person to explore different ways to meet your expectations. Listen clearly to determine challenges or obstacles; suggest alternatives to work around these challenges.

  • Reward people when they meet your expectations.

  • Do what you promise to do.

  • Take people on the journey with you. If your expectations change, make sure you communicate this clearly.

The above tips can be applied in any leadership position: at work, in your community or in your family.

Question to reflect on: What are the challenges you face in using your personal power?

In next month’s article, I will explore how you can define your personal brand.