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.