You do not have to have a lofty title, sizeable budget, or media coverage to be powerful. Growing power does not require a formal grant from the organization or having an “in-crowd” status. Power is not popularity or office size. Let’s rethink our assumptions about how confidence impacts power.
First, having confidence and having competence is not the same thing. I know very competent people who have little confidence. And the reverse is true also. Some highly confident people have no understanding of the facts or mastery of the situation. They just shoot from the hip or a standard script. Confidence is generated internally and we can choose to become confident when we realize that it is a choice and that it is never too late for us to become powerful.
Power is not a matter of intelligence, tenure, or charm. It is a matter of recognizing what we know and using that knowledge at the right time and in the right way to get the right results. We can choose to use power to influence others.
Second, power changes over time. All of us were limited during childhood. However, we grew physically while we were also advancing our skills. Do you label your power now based on the power you have had? If you do, you are making a huge error. Power usually grows.
In most instances, we start out our professional lives feeling pretty powerless, like an infant. We rely on others and stick ardently to the role of follower. But we gain experience and grow. Next we start to exert some autonomy and independence, much like teenagers. In time, and with enhanced confidence, we exert greater power to achieve our goals, just as we did in early adulthood.
However, great leaders do not stop there. They advance to another final stage where their goal-focus broadens from the personal and organizationally driven. Whether we call this orientation wise, humble, or hero, it is clear that there is a way to use power for the greater good.
Recently we honored members of the U.S. Navy Seal teams; there have been other soldiers who demonstrated this larger focus, but they are not alone. There are many who elect to serve behind the scenes and avoid the pomp that can accompany power.
Who was the most powerful person in your life? I bet it was not someone on a magazine cover or with a famous name. Your answer is probably a teacher, coach, family member or local leader who chose to make a difference. They chose to be a powerful influence in your life. Assert your confidence, make the right choices and grow your power.
Why not use your power to make a difference too? How are you growing power?