What is a personal power? Unlocking Your Full Potential

What is a Personal Power?

Personal power is an important ability for people to understand and develop because its use can help encourage and develop one’s own career and the careers and lives of those around them. When someone can control a room and encourage the people around them to be their best, they have likely honed their personal power in an influential way.   Understanding how to use your own personal power can set a person on a trajectory for success and influence that leaves a legacy long past your time in a company or industry.  Because this ability is so indicative of the way that a career and professional life will go, we must understand what personal power is and how to use this personal power in productive ways for ourselves and those around us.  This article will provide an overview of personal power, how it is created and how it is observed, as well as discuss the benefits of understanding the ability.  Finally, it will end with suggestions of how someone can develop the skill of honing their personal power for good.

Defining Personal Power:

Personal power is the ability to gather, encourage, and lead people.  For some people, this can come naturally, while for others, it takes practice to use effectively.  It is the combination of being the type of person that others want to be around and understanding and exhibiting professional or personal excellence.  Personal power is most often used for good for the person using it and those around them.  It differs from other types of power because it encourages good and beneficial outcomes from an event or task, and it relies heavily on the type of person that someone is, rather than the exertion of power over another.  This article will focus on how to develop and hone personal power to use it positively and effectively and discourages the more malicious uses of power for personal gain.  Power is often discussed in the negative sense of exploitation and control, but when a person is relying on their personal power based on their good intentions, it can be a positive and refreshing type of power to encounter, giving people the ability to see themselves and those around them for the good they can bring.

Personal power and positional power are completely different, where the first one can be better understood as the opposite of the second.  Positional power is the power most frequently associated with the word power.  It exists not because of the type of person that someone is, but because of the position or hierarchy that exists around a person.  Positional power is given to someone based on their title and is not earned or lost in the same way as personal power.  Personal power is used when a person has charisma and earns authority over others based on the way that they treat others and how they excel in their given field.  Unlike positional power, which only increases when someone with more power grants more power to you, personal power can increase and develop through self-awareness and development.  By becoming a better and more well-rounded person, you can also increase personal power.

Components of Personal Power:

To further understand personal power, it can be helpful to understand the components of personal power through individual personality traits.  Because personal power is the ability to engage, develop, and lead other people well, three aspects of personality can tie into the ways that others interact with and respond to us.  These are leadership, connection, and motivation.

  • Leadership: Leadership is often denied as a natural and innate need to have some kind of control over a group or outcome.  Some people need or desire power and control over situations that they are in.  This may not be the case in every aspect of their lives, but it is important to them in some areas.  Many people who find themselves in a position of authority will have this personality trait.  Encouraging this desire can help build and maintain personal power.
  • Connection: Another personality trait that helps make up personal power is connection.  This is the ability to relate to others in a way that is encouraging for everyone involved.  People who have this skill and trait will desire to build bonds and help others connect.  This desire seeks to build belonging among peers, which encourages further connection between the leader and others.
  • Motivation: The final aspect of a person’s personality that can contribute to personal power is motivation.  Because one of the aspects of personal power is excellence in a subject area, motivation to accomplish goals within that subject area is an important aspect of personal power.  The more motivation that a person has to accomplish and achieve within their field, the more expansive their personal power may be.

While these are personality traits, there are ways for people who may not naturally have these traits to develop them and unlock their personal power, which will be discussed later in this article.

Types of Personal Power:

In addition to internal motivations and traits, two types of power make up personal power.  It is the combination of these two types of power that make personal power effective.  These two types are expert power and referent power.

  • Expert Power: Expert power is the power that comes from knowing and understanding a subject area or a profession.  This means that they can answer questions, give some advice, and encourage strategy within the subject.  People who have this type of power are often looked to for leadership and mentorship.
  • Referent Power: Referent power is the ability to attract and unite others around a common goal.  It is tied tightly to the connection personality trait, and people with this type of power can see the ways that people can come together to achieve a goal.  People with this type of power are often found in positions of leadership and can be skilled communicators.

A common theme between these types of power is that they will often find themselves in places of leadership and influence, which means that this type of power can hold a lot of weight and needs to be encouraged to lead others well.

The Benefits of Personal Power:

When one is considering working to unlock and build their personal power, it can help to understand the benefits that can accompany personal power.  Developing such power can provide various benefits to people within their careers, but especially within their personal life and development.  These benefits include:

  • Improved Relationships: An obvious benefit of personal power is the improvements that can be found in relationships.  Because personal power focuses in part on attracting and connecting people, the relationships around a person with personal power can grow and improve as personal power improves.
  • Self-Awareness: Unlocking personal power and self-improvement often work together to help make a good person better.  Part of this means that one can become more aware of their strengths and weaknesses and where one can improve.  Self-awareness gives people the ability to lead and engage well.
  • Trajectory: When people can unlock and understand their personal power, they can see and set clearer goals to shape the trajectory of their lives and professions.  Connecting and engaging those around them helps them find their potential and aligns one’s goals with their values and dreams but keeps them realistic.
  • Resiliency: Because embracing personal power helps people align with their values and develop a greater awareness of themselves, it can also help them bounce back when there are issues or setbacks.  Everyone will have setbacks, so unlocking personal power can be invaluable to helping move forward with a new outlook.

A common theme of personal power is that it is tied together with self-development and improvement, which means that alongside these benefits, there are further personal benefits for those that are seeking to improve their lives and themselves.  Personal power brings both personal and professional success that is unrivaled.

Building Personal Power:

Because personal power is so important for personal and professional success, it is beneficial to work to increase and unlock personal power.  Personal power is very personalized, as the title suggests, but there are still common tasks that can help a person find their power.  The following suggestions can help with different aspects of personal power.

  • Talk Nicely to Yourself: One of the most common issues that many people face when trying to unlock their personal power is the way that they speak to themselves.  Many of us tend to talk negatively to ourselves, which can undercut our confidence.  Refusing to speak negatively to and about ourselves and replacing this negative talk with positive affirmations can help us see ourselves in a better light, which increases confidence and power.
  • Demonstrate Your Knowledge: Another way that one can build personal power is to show others their work.  Because personal power is partially about expertise in a given subject area, it is important that other people to see and notice that a person is good at their work.  As people see the excellence contained in this work, they will be more willing to acknowledge you as an expert, which contributes to personal power.
  • Speak Up for Yourself: Another important way to contribute to personal power is to advocate for yourself for leadership positions and advocate for others to be a part of your team.  When you advocate for yourself as a leader, people will begin to acknowledge and see you as a leader.  When you advocate for others to be a part of the team, they will begin to notice the natural ability to lead and support the goals that you put forth because they are feeling included in a team.
  • Ask for Help: While some people may feel like they are exhibiting weakness and failure when they are asking for help, it demonstrates that we fully understand our strengths and weaknesses and know when to ask for help in an area where we need it.  People will gravitate to a person if they can feel useful and know that a person can delegate tasks in a way that will use their abilities effectively.
  • Choose Growth: Personal development is intrinsically linked to personal power.  The more that a person chooses to grow in their own life, the more their influence will grow.  Choosing to learn new skills or invest in new expertise can help encourage personal power.  Additionally, choosing to encourage others to grow and empowering others around you will help to further unlock personal power.  Others will trust that you have their best interest in mind when you see greatness in them and encourage them toward it.
  • Admit Mistakes:  People will need to trust you to be influenced by you and commit to your cause.  This means that you will need to admit to wrongdoing or mistakes when they occur, otherwise people may not trust that you are self-aware and may lose their faith in your ability to lead.

Personal power expands as one invests in themselves, so it can often feel very similar to self-care or self-development.  This can feel selfish for some people, yet it can be one of the most impactful things that someone can do for their community.  By investing in yourself, you not only better yourself, but as personal power grows, it empowers and encourages the people around you.  The more people that step into their personal power, the more communities of growth we will see.  To see your community and sphere grow, it may be time to think about growing your personal power.

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