Susan L. Farrell, Author

Personal vs. Positional Power

Personal vs. Positional Power (Video Link)

dreamstime_xs_50156327, resizedMany years ago I read about personal power versus positional power. The concept has stayed with me; the source, unfortunately, has not.

As I remember the concept, positional power is the power that comes with our position. It is the power we have over people because of the position we hold. We may have the power to hire, fire, and discipline employees. We may have the power to give or withhold pay increases and promotions.

Personal power is the influence that we have over others because of who we are as a person. We may have the ability to influence others because they trust us, because they believe in us, because they respect us.

Positional power is external. It comes from outside of us. It is bestowed upon us when we take a particular position. A difficulty with positional power is that when we lose the position, we lose the accompanying power.

Personal power is internal. It comes from within us. It comes from our character. We create it. No matter where we are, or what position we hold, we will always have our personal power with us. (Unless, of course, we do things so that people no longer trust or respect us.) No one can ever take our personal power away from us.

Which do you depend upon more, positional power or personal power? Is it time to make a change?


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