Personal and Position Power in Leadership

All my life I have tried to position myself as a leader. In grade school it may mean taking the lead on a small project, in College I might try and lead a group through an assignment, as a father I try to lead my 6 year old down the right path by setting examples of good behavior, manners, etc. As a professional, I am starting to learn each and every day what type of leader I really am. Northouse says, “In an organization, there are two major kinds of power: position power and personal power (Northouse,2013) Position power is the power one derives from their actual rank or position within an organization. Being at the management level at my company, I guess I have some position power. Personal power however, is the influence capacity a leader gets from being seen by followers as knowledgeable, or likeable. I strive for position power.

I am currently a Trainer and Analyst for a large internet company in Chicago. My job is to be an expert on everything we offer as a company, and I mostly work with the sales team to train them on technique to increase their sales ability. It is very important that the people I am training, at all levels including those with more ‘position power’ believe that I know what I’m talking about. If I don’t come across as extremely competent in my teachings, then nothing from my trainings will be retained. Because people look up to me at my company, I would consider myself a leader within the organization. As a leader, but also a trainer, my main goal is to initiate positive change so people can be more effective at their job. Like a coach would for his team. I don’t “manage” people in terms of schedule adherence, vacation requests, etc. but I do lead employees when it comes to self-promotion, skill building, and job efficiency.

In this position I feel like I implement a few leadership theories. For example, Northouse suggests that a situational approach is adapting to the “developmental level of subordinates” (Northouse, 2013). As a trainer, I have to adjust my training depending on the audience, and their current knowledge level. For example, a training I do for management looks and sounds much different than one I do for other employees. Overall however, I try to take a transformational approach in an effort to gain more personal power. The more personal power I have, the more likely it is that I am being effective at my job. By acting as a transformational leader, people will believe that I have their growth and development above my own, which is true. When working for this type of leader myself, I have found that I am more motivated by my own success because I don’t want to let that leader down. This style truly brings the best out of people.

Position power, is like a manager. Personal power, is like a coach. Some managers, good ones, have both. But just because someone is a manager, and has position power, doesn’t make them a leader. On the reverse, someone may have no position power, but have incredible personal power. These people could also be considered leaders.  Overall however, leaders have to be adaptive, and that’s what I feel that I do best.


Northouse, P.G. (2013).  Leadership: Theory and Practice.  Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

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    From the sound of it, you definitely seem to have a large amount of personal power. As a college student in my early 20’s, I would hope that one day I will have a boss like you.
    In addition to striving to be a transformational leader, I would say that you strive for ethics as well. According to the Northouse book, ethical leaders have 5 principles of ethics: respect, honesty, service, justice, community (PSU WC L 14).
    From your entry I would say that all of these characteristics fit within what your strive to be, especially service and community.



    I totally agree with your blog post and enjoyed reading it. I think your position on personal and position power leadership is spot on. I believe that positional power is much more prevalent throughout all industries and workplaces. If you think about it any job in the country has some positional power relationship. Whether you have it over your subordinates or your boss has positional power over you.

    However, I do not believe that this is the most powerful type of leadership. I think that personal power is a much more effective style of leadership. As you said having personal power is like a coach, and this type of relationship typically brings out the best in people and allows them to achieve up to and beyond their potential.


    Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

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