Authentic Leadership: Navigating the responsibilities of personal power.


What differentiates positional power and personal power? In leadership coaching this questions helps us understand dynamics within relationships, family systems and organisations.

Leaders with positional power operate from a traditional or formal understanding of power and are authoritarian. They are often unable to look beyond roles and responsibilities of titles and lack awareness of how their performance, attitudes and general behaviours affect others. On the other hand personal power displayed by authentic leaders comes from being worthy of following and looking for direction. Those who operate from personal power dynamics do so far beyond the formal responsibility of their position. They are more focussed on growth, motivation, empowerment and overall context of those around them. While personal power can also involve positional leadership in times of trial, stress, or necessity it is not used as the defining factor for influencing others.


Authentic leaders know who they are, what they believe in and act on those beliefs and values openly and candidly. Their followers consider them ethical people and the primary quality produced in their relationships is trust. Authentic leaders share information willingly, encourage open communication and stay connected to their ideals and the result is people come to have faith in them. Their people come to understand their own growth journey through their leadership.


To develop your authentic leadership it helps to understand your personal values, strengths/weakness, leadership style and skills to help you navigate the leadership terrain. You may like to do an Authentic Leadership SWOT Analysis to help you understand your leadership. Get yourself a pen and your coaching journal, make a chart with four sections and do the following activities in each quadrant.


STRENGTHS: Discover your character strengths by taking the VIA Strengths Survey and list your top five signature strengths in the first quadrant.

WEAKNESS: Ask those you trust to give you honest feedback on your weakness' and see if you reflect on times you have reacted to something and not behaved from a position of personal strength. Everyone has weakness' including leaders.

OPPORTUNITIES: Look for external factors at work and in life that could provide you with opportunities to expand your personal leadership.

THREATS: Identify any potential threats that will hold you back from having personal power and list ways you can protect yourself from them or navigate around them. .

Authentic leadership takes time and trusting relationships is the key; this means brining your whole self to the leadership table and engaging people with integrity, care and attention. Lead by example, communicate openly, get to know your people beyond their role, don't lay blame, discuss trust issues transparently and discourage cliques.

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