Personal or Positional Power

Some leaders fall short of my expectations. When they fall short for me, it is not necessarily in their abilities or potential, but they fall short in making what I think is such a very important and necessary distinction. The distinction between personal power and positional power.

Without getting into the many, many writings on this topic let me just sum it up in one general statement - you can have personal power without positional power and conversely, be given positional power without first having personal power. So, what comes first? What should come first? Does it matter?

Personal vs. positional power is not a "chicken or the egg" question for me. Best case is a leader with both positional and personal power but that is not always the case and when I can't have both, personal trumps positional for me every time. While positional power will only get you so far in the long run, personal power will take you as far as you want to go. 

As you look around an organization, you will typically see many combinations of personal and positional power. My favorites are the works in progress. The works in progress are my new leaders who are trying to figure this all out to be the best they can be for themselves, for others and for the organization. When someone steps into a leadership role without personal power, can they develop it? Absolutely but not with certainty and definitely not without a willingness to learn, develop and grow. It will not always be easy but worth it in the end.

So, how do I get this across to my junior and senior leaders and my works in progress alike?