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Influence Your Way to Success

No matter what your role, influence plays an important part. Great leaders are exceptional influencers and leadership creates culture. Leaders are not bosses just as leadership is not management. If you are at a great company you probably have great leaders that have very strong personal powers.


Personal Power gains influence by using 'power with' someone.

Positional Power induces compliance by using 'power over' someone.


A couple ways to think of personal and positional power which may help others are:

  • Positional power is a result of strong personal power. i.e. The person that is a rock star gets promoted.
  • Personal power is a leading indicator while positional power is a trailing indicator to leadership success. i.e. Being a great leader with your personal power shows what is being done now, positional power is a result of what you have done in the past.


Personal power will get a leader further than positional power as it is based on trust and respect among team members. Different types of personal power are illustrated below.


Personal Powers

  • Expert: The perception that the leader has relevant education, experience and expertise
  • Information: The perceived access to, or possession of, useful information.
  • Referent: The perceived attractiveness of interacting with the leader.


Positional power is using ones position to induce someone to do something. Positional power does not require a base of trust and respect and when it is not present will lead to compliance.


Positional Powers

  • Reward: The perceived ability to provide things that other people would like to have.
  • Connection: The perceived association of the leader with influential persons or organizations.
  • Coercive: The perceived ability of a leader to provide sanctions, punishments, or consequences for not performing.


When a leader has positional power as well as a very loyal following it is because of their personal power strengths not their positional power attributes. As a leader, make sure you have established a strong foundation of trust and respect while using your personal powers before leveraging your positional powers.

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