Positive Power vs. Acquired Authority

Which is which?

I want to talk about positive power and acquired authority and why it’s important to know the difference. When we think of leadership in the workplace, we think of those with a manager, supervisor, or executive title. But a continuous problem I see is most managers don’t really understand the positive power they possess. This power plays a huge part in improving the lives of those around them. I’m sure we have all been at an organization where we loved our job and our coworkers, but management was sub-par, or dare I say, awful. You’re picturing the place and that manager right now, aren’t you? So, what IS the difference?

Acquired authority is the title that allows you to:
  • Hire and terminate
  • Give pay upgrades
  • Shift people on projects
  • And improve or change processes

Positive power is how you’re leaving people feeling in your presence. Do you leave them feeling heard, uplifted, and valued? People like to know that the work they do is meaningful in their space and that everything they’re doing points to a vision, a bigger mission that drives the organization forward.

The Impact

Many managers and people with leader titles don’t actually understand that positive power has a bigger long-term impact. You change the lives of the families of those that are in your workplace when you uplift them. Have you ever noticed that your mood is positive at home when you have a great day at work? Or, if you have a bad day on the job, it often goes home with you? When you recognize, empower, and help move individuals forward in their journey, it can really change their life.

The acquired authority that you have to move a project, stop a process, alleviate some kind of thing in the workplace or even give somebody more money, less money or put them on a project team is all great. But if you don’t counterbalance that with the positive power you possess, you’re eliminating the opportunity to care about longevity, the legacy you create.

Be The Change

When you consider the whole person, when you create a safe space, when you make sure that your people are heard; you uplift them. You become an important factor in helping them move along in their journey and give away all you have as a leader with heart. So, if you want to be a caring leader, release your grasp on the acquired authority you possess. Instead, lean into your positive power.

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