Personal Power

By Susan Drake


Remember me? Throughout 2011, I wrote about engaging employees. In order to engage anyone, you need something I call personal power.

Personal power doesn’t have anything to do with your title or your scope of responsibility. You can hold important political or business positions with little or no personal power at all. People with big responsibilities have “position” power.

On the other hand, I believe “personal” power is much more lasting and valuable. Personal power is a combination of qualities that draw people to you; your personal power influences them and doesn’t change with a promotion or a loss of position. These are qualities and skills such as empathy, attitude, integrity, style, speaking skill, experience\and so forth. To me, it’s an aura, described by Merriam-Webster as “an energy field that is held to emanate from a living being.” We more or less “feel” someone’s personal power. In fact, I’ve sometimes sensed a perfect stranger’s personal power as they entered a room. Certain people are born with an amount of inherent personal power, but they can also refine it. So, that’s what we’re going to talk about in this column. Things you can do to enhance your personal power.

Answer these questions: Do you already have personal power? What traits do you believe you exhibit that draw people to you? What do you believe you can achieve by strengthening your personal power? Are there sacrifices you will have to make to gain it?

Not everyone wants the power to influence others, because with that comes responsibility. If people consider you a role model, you should model positive behavior.

When I see people rant on social channels, I cringe, thinking what could happen to their reputation. What we show to our business associates is not necessarily what we show our friends – and vice versa. Social media can destroy a reputation in a split second.

Power of any kind also can go to your head. Once you’ve refined your skill, you could need a humility-meter to remind you you’re just a human being too.

Take a few minutes to list people you believe have personal power, and think about what makes you feel that way. (Princess Diana? Your father? A school mentor or friend?) Then consider what traits you have that contribute to your personal power. Which areas do you feel strong in, and which ones would you like to improve?

Each week, we’ll be addressing ways to build your personal power. And even if you don’t want to use it to influence others, you may enjoy the benefits it brings you. Since the column is a fluid creature, I encourage you to send me topics you’d like to see covered here.

Susan Drake is a marketing and communications professional. Contact her at