Are You Using Your Personal Power?

Are you using your personal power, or are you relying on your position power?

Do you know the difference between the two types of power?

Positional power is the authority you hold within the structure and hierarchy of your organization. Personal power is your skill and ability to influence people and events regardless of your job title.
Which power do you use most often? Is using your personal power always your first choice?

Have you considered how much personal power you have, or do you feel powerless due to the limited position power you possess?

It is amazing what you can accomplish with your personal power.

Don’t be concerned about the limit of your position power. It matters little how smart you are, how hard you work, or where you received your education; you will not succeed in your career without the cooperation of others. When you need others to cooperate or buy-in with your ideas, how do accomplish this?

Everyone knows how to tell people what to do using positional power, but there is a limit to that power — based on your position in the organizational chart. I will show you it is amazing what you can accomplish with your personal power. There is no limit to your personal power.

Your personal power is unlimited!

Let me share a great example of personal power through an event that taught me the scope and effectiveness of personal power the day of the Chick-fil-A grand opening in Paramus Mall, Paramus, New Jersey.

It was March 14, 1974, and I was the person in charge of the restaurant opening, I had position power and did not hesitate to use it.

Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, was there to help celebrate the opening of our first restaurant in New Jersey. Of course, Truett had the first choice of grand opening roles while he was there.

Truett loved the crowds at Grand Openings. He loved greeting people out in the mall and offering bite-sized samples of Chick-fil-A chicken to the shoppers as they passed our dining room. Truett knew if they tasted Chick-fil-A, they would like it and come back to eat with us.

On one of Truett’s frequent trips to the kitchen to refresh his plate of samples, he pointed out a young lady behind the counter who was taking customer orders.

He said, “She is not smiling.”

He was right. The young woman, let’s call her Marilyn, wasn’t smiling. I remembered her smiling a lot during our pre-opening training. The pleasant, friendly attitude and happy manner she had the day before were gone. Did something happen before she came to work that day? I didn’t know what was wrong, but she looked like everything that could go wrong for her had happened all at once. Marilyn was wearing a very sad face.

It was my job to fix this problem. I walked over and told her to smile. That didn’t work so I did it again, “Smile” I said.

When Truett returned again for samples, he said, “She is still not smiling.”

I told him, “I will see that she does this time.” After all, I did have the position power, and I expected Marilyn to do what I told her.

Truett said, “I will take care of it.”

Do you know how it feels to have your boss step in, take over and relieve you of your position power? I watched to see what he would do that he thought he could do better to get Marilyn to smile.

Truett walked over to Marilyn and said to her, “Every time I look at you, you are smiling.”

I certainly didn’t expect that to work. It didn’t. After a weak effort at smiling, Marilyn put her sad face back on.

A few minutes later, Truett strolled past her again. Truett paused, looked her straight in the eye, and said, “There you are, smiling again.”

Marilyn’s sad face began to crack, as her smile grew a little larger and lingered a little longer with each interaction with Truett.

Several more times as Truett passed, he complimented Marilyn on her smile. Marilyn’s smile grew bigger and lasted longer each time. By then the two of them had my total attention.

In a very short time, Truett would just turn and smile at Marilyn. In return, she would smile. Amazingly, her smile became continuous and lasted the rest of the day.

Truett Cathy had used his personal power …

And, did what position power could never have done!

Use Your Personal Power!

During my 32 years as a follower of Truett, I would see him do it thousands of times, but never more clearly than what I saw that day at Paramus Mall.

In fact, I almost never saw him use his position power!

As a result, I learned to use my personal power and found that I rarely needed position power.

Your personal power carries more influence with people and will far exceed your positional.

Forget about position power!

Use Your Personal Power!

And you will find …

There is no limit to what you can accomplish!

Your personal power is more effective and engaging, and as a result, people will be more motivated to cooperate with you and more open to your ideas.

How are you using your Personal Power?

Many of you will be encouraged by this message because you have experienced the effectiveness of using your personal power to advance your career.

If you have a personal story related to the effectiveness of personal power over positional power, please take a moment and share it with us. It is encouraging to hear stories of other’s success.

—Jimmy Collins