Monday, March 21, 2011

Personal Power: Tapping into Yours

Understanding the Principles behind the concept of Personal Power, along with your sources of power, are important contributors to your achieving what you want in life. It is often through our sense of powerless in situations that we undermine our belief in ourselves, leading us to work in ways that support others, not ourselves. Reconnecting with our power-base allows us to begin making decisions and taking actions that are in alignment with our interests and goals, leading to greater success and happiness.

First, it's important to understand that we have a number of sources of power, the first of which is the most important - know who you are. Understanding what your values are, what really matters to you, will go a long way toward allowing you to make decisions and choices that uphold them. Without this understanding you will be more easily swayed by others' wants and needs, often pulling you further and further from your own desires.

Additional sources of power include:

Positional power - the role you currently hold will carry with it a certain amount of power. The actual amount is very situationally driven and is also dependent upon who you are interacting with. Your positional power is also driven in part by how visible you are and even what your degree of influence is over the decision makers.

Expertise power - knowledge holds power. If you know something the other party doesn't, and it is deemed important, then you have power in that exchange of information. This does not mean that you should not share your knowledge and expertise with others, but rather recognize the influential impact sharing that information has in building your power base with them.

Connection power - this is the power of your network! Everyone has likely been telling you for years that networking is important but, short of needing it to tap into for a job search, we don't typically assign much value to it. However, if you know someone that would be important for someone else to connect with or through, this has a true perceived value to them and therefore represents a great base of power for you.

Achievement power - they may say that you are only as good as your last win, but don't overlook the fact that those wins carry a cache and do represent a source of power for you. The more 'wins' you've enjoyed the more power you have. This is another good reason why learning to 'toot your own horn' is a positive skill to cultivate. It never hurts to remind people, however gently and subtly, just how valuable you are!

Referential power -This source of power is typically referred to as charisma. Although it may often seem unquantifiable, it has a definite and powerful impact on others and therefore represents an important source of your personal power.

Attractiveness power - although we don't typically want to acknowledge this one, it is true nonetheless (and research supports it!). The more attributes you possess (even physical ones) that others find appealing, the more power, leverage and influence you have over them.

The Work:

Before entering into an exchange with someone, especially those interactions that you know will be difficult, spend a few moments in assessing the status of your sources of power relative to the other party involved. It is likely you will determine that you have more power in the situation than you first thought or felt. Often, spending this time to more honestly evaluate your base of power in the situation helps you to enter the exchange with a greater degree of confidence which, in turn, increases the odds of a positive and successful outcome for you.

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