POSITIONAL POWER AND PERSONAL POWER
February 16, 2015
A GOOD leader inspires others to have the confidence in the leader. But, a GREAT leader inspires others to have the confidence in themselves. This is the true essence of leadership.The title one has may place that person in a position of leadership. However, the style of leadership one exerts makes the difference between an effective leader and one with the title only.
Leadership within an organization is a significant responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. The institution, peoples lives, their career and future may rest in the hands of the leader. With a title, the stage may be set. But the actions on that stage are often determined by the leadership style of the designated leader. Based on the choices a leader makes, a major impact is made on the environmental climate of that organization.
Over a period of years, this columnist has observed a number of leadership styles...some effectual and others quite ineffectual. I have found that effectual leaders take their role seriously and set out to create a safe, respectful, and growth oriented environment. These effective leaders have a healthy respect for self and a high regard for others. Their style of "personal power" leadership serves the organization well. These personal power leaders are driven by forging solid relationships built on trust, honesty and cooperation. The strength of this style of leadership may be difficult to measure in the short term, but it is most powerful in the long term. These leaders tend not to resort to their "positional power" (title). Instead, they strive to build, nurture, and develop trusting and long lasting relationships among the people. In this type of supportive environment, the people tend to feel secure, creative and are empowered. They are genuinely driven to reach for the highest level of achievement. And further, they feel they belong and want to be included in accomplishing the goals of the organization. They are involved and engaged, constructive, and productive. It just cannot get much better than that!
And then too, I have witnessed people in leadership positions who "lead" people through fear, manipulation, and the threat of economic consequences. Some of these "positional" leaders are driven by the numbers, performance metrics, and the bottom line factor. Some of these so called "leaders" achieve some success – usually for themselves and for a small group that surrounds them. When tough times hit, they innately default to sacrificing people to 'save the numbers' versus digging deep to 'save the organization.' In the short term, they see that the ends justify the means. Long term, they drain the organization of trust, respect, cooperation, and accomplishment. Driving an organization through performance metrics while holding people accountable can be a positive thing. However, It can be quite debilitating, when it is achieved with a heavy hand and with an "executive order" mentality. These positional leaders have little regard for the personal touch. It is possible, when by administrative fiat as the sole approach, the vital weight bearing structural parts of the organization may be weakened beyond repair by inordinate stresses and strains. And when this occurs, the entire organization is the looser, including the positional leader.
Personal Power or Positional Power? The positional powered individual is often driven by self-centeredness, insecurity, and egocentricity. Whereas the personal powered individual is moved by thoughtfulness, a respect of self, and esteem for others. In short, the environment created within a personal power leadership model often sets the stage for remarkable, sustainable and game changing progress. Not only do people with the organization want to productively perform, it also generates a climate for organizational goal achievement. And after all, achieving the purposes of the institution is why the organization exists. And that is how it see it from this perspective.