You have six sources of power available to you when it comes to influence, but you might not be aware of all of them. Most of us are familiar with the power and authority that come along with position, but five other sources of power — resource, political, knowledge, relationship, and personal — are important, too. In this post I’m discussing your personal power.
Your personal power is that engaging force that attracts people to your words, your ideas, and to you. That combination of assets includes your brand message, your leadership style, and your leadership and personal presence demonstrated in the way you walk, talk, and dress.
Along with knowledge power and relationship power, your personal power is internal and not dependent on organizational structure, climate, or leadership. Your personal power is yours to carry with you wherever you go.
Elements of Personal Power
Before brand became a buzz word and spread beyond product marketing to people, brand was your reputation. Brand still includes reputation, but it’s also your gestalt – that collection of personal characteristics, presence, and results that represent you to the world. Whether or not you’re aware of what your brand message is, you’re sending one out. To ensure that your ideas and proposals are listened to, that brand message needs to represent you as a person of influence.
To be the master of what people remember most about you, pin down the characteristics you want to have stand out and those you want to tone down. By doing this, you put the control for designing what people think about you in your hands, where it belongs.
Your reputation is impacted by the way you lead others to deliver results. You may be a knowledge expert who produces the right outcomes, but if the way you lead isn’t the right fit for your organization’s culture or for what’s expected at your level or in your role, others might form opinions of you that could block their ability to see you as effective and influential. Or worse, they may actively attempt to stop you from being successful.
Does your leadership style match the kind of group you’re leading as well as the leadership culture of the company as a whole? For example, if your organization prizes independent thinking, creativity and autonomy, then a leadership style that includes micromanaging or monitoring employees’ social time at work despite their productivity or results is likely not a match.
Likewise, a leadership style that is more consensus-driven in a company where the leadership style and culture favor a directive approach would also not be a match.
In what ways might your leadership style be positively adding to or causing damage to your reputation, given the climate of your organization? What’s working, and what needs changing?
A third set of criteria for forming opinions of you come under the heading of presence; it’s how you carry yourself.
Body language sends a message. How are you presenting yourself? Start becoming aware of your posture and gait. In what ways might they be negatively or positively impacting your image? Read more about body language you can use to convey confidence as well as body language to avoid at work.
What you wear makes a difference. We’ve all heard the tip about dressing for the position you want to be in, not the one you’re in. It’s true. And even in companies where the culture is relaxed and laid back, wearing shirts with spots or holes as one engineering manager did regularly, or dressing in a suit when no one, including the CEO, wears one to work, can stop you from moving up.
Think in advance about the potential impact their your style might have on those whose feedback could negatively affect their your reputation. What, if anything, about your style of dress needs to change so that you are seen as a person of influence?
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com/djgis