Personal power refers to the ability to influence and control oneself and others positively, while maintaining authenticity and integrity.  Personal power is innate and can be developed over time, it comes through building soft skills such as communication, emotional intelligence, networking skills and many others. Understanding the  sources of personal power and knowing how to apply them effectively can lead to personal growth, improved relationships, and greater accomplishments. There are four sources of personal power to examine this week and we will explore their application in professional careers and other aspects of life.

Expert Power

Expert power is derived from one’s knowledge, skills, and expertise in a particular field or multi disciplinary areas. Individuals who possess expertise are perceived as competent and credible, earning respect and admiration from others. In a professional setting, becoming an expert in your field can lead to greater recognition, quicker career promotions, and opportunities for advancement. Additionally, sharing your knowledge and providing valuable insights to colleagues fosters a positive work environment, enhancing teamwork and cooperation.

Beyond the workplace, expert power can be applied in personal relationships and social circles. Sharing your expertise with friends or family can strengthen bonds and build trust, while also empowering others to grow in their knowledge and skills.

Referent Power

Referent power is based on the charisma, likability, and charm of an individual. People who possess referent power are admired and looked up to by others, often serving as role models. In a professional setting, being a likeable and approachable leader can motivate and inspire team members, leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction.

In personal life, referent power comes into play in relationships. Being a supportive and understanding friend or partner can create strong emotional bonds and foster healthier connections with others.

Legitimate Power

Legitimate power is derived from a person’s position or title within an organisation or social setting. It is the power that comes with a formal authority to make decisions and influence others’ actions. For instance, individuals with political or noble titles,  In the  professional context individuals in senior management or leadership roles hold legitimate power. It is essential to use this power responsibly and ethically, making decisions that benefit the greater good as opposed to serving personal interest..

In other areas of life, legitimate power might manifest in community leadership roles or roles within social groups. Using this power to create positive change and foster a sense of belonging can strengthen social ties and improve the community’s overall well-being.

Reward Power

Reward power is associated with the ability to provide rewards or incentives to others for their actions or behaviour. This power can be especially influential in motivating individuals to perform well in their professional careers. Managers who use reward power effectively can encourage their team members to achieve goals and reach milestones, fostering a culture of excellence and recognition.

Outside of the workplace, reward power can be applied in parenting, friendships, or any group setting where positive reinforcement encourages desired behaviour and growth.

The benefits of Personal Power are numerous

  • Individuals who recognise their key areas of strength can translate this into a form of personal power. For instance someone who has high emotional intelligence and a gift of counselling will tend to gravitate towards nurturing others. People who know how to lean into their personal power and use it as a tool for good  can make excellent teachers, leaders, and Managers. Personal power is best used as a tool to support and encourage others not purely for personal benefit.
  • People with high levels of self awareness learn to set proper boundaries in relationships whether personal or professional. Such individuals are less likely to be taken advantage of due to their effective ways of communicating their wants and needs.
  • Using personal power in a positive way can be a major stepping stone for success as long as it is done positively for instance to position yourself as a subject matter expert or emphatic leader. 
  • Forms of power such as expert power can enhance personal productivity, assist better decision making and support capacity building.