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7 Development Ideas to Build Your Personal Power

Wednesday, August 08, 2018 9:38 AM | Kevin Smith (Administrator)

by Jenn Stangl

ATD-MAC’s August is all about you. It’s about you, about your brand, about your power. Our August session features Courtney Davidson in a powerful session on your personal brand. At “Making Your Mark” , you’ll learn how to get noticed by recruiters, and you’ll also learn how to build your brand in your current role. So, this August, dive into you. Head into September empowered and emboldened to meet your most important and pressing needs. 

I recently took an online course called Building Personal Power. The course is focused on understanding ways of analyzing power dynamics in organizationsas well as thinking about how to build your own skills in exercising power and influence.  

Throughout the course, we read pieces of Power: Why Some People Have It – and Others Don’t by Jeffery Pfeffer. If you are interested in the idea of power and learning more, it is an interesting read.  In chapter two, Jeffery discusses personal qualities that create power. As I read this chapter, I found myself reflecting on my personal qualities – strengths, areas of development and what I felt was important for me regarding power.  

To give you an opportunity to reflect as well, here are Pfeffer’s 7 Qualities for Creating Personal Power:  

1. AMBITION “Success requires effort and hard work as well as persistence.” 

Do It! Be goal-oriented. If you have your sights set on a goal, you have an easier time overlooking the general frustrations or daily annoyances that could otherwise distract you.

2. ENERGY “Energy, like many emotional states such as anger or happiness, is contagious.”
Do It! Leverage your energy and provide inspiration to others, demonstrate your commitment to the organization, and be willing to put the time into achieving goals.

3. FOCUS “… evidence suggests that you are more likely to acquire power by narrowing focus and applying your energies … to limited range of activities in a smaller number of domains.”
Do it! Specialize when you can. Specialization provides a depth of understanding and substantial web of focused relationships.  

4. SELF-KNOWLEDGE “There is no learning and personal development without reflection.”
Do It! Reflect on your interactions and learn from what went well and identify what you’d do differently next time. 

5. CONFIDENCE “Because power is likely to cause people to behave in a more confident fashion, observers will associate condiment behavior with actually having power.”
Do It! Your title can demonstrate power, but when you are working with those who don’t know your background, you need to use your behavior to demonstrate power.

6. EMPATHY WITH OTHERS “What sometimes gets in the way of putting ourselves in the shoes of others is too much focus on the end goal and our own objectives.” 
Do It! In order to succeed with negotiations, you need to recognize where the other individual is coming from.

7. CAPACITY TO TOLERATE CONFLICT “If you can handle difficult conflict- and stress-filled situations effectively, you have an advantage over most people.”
Do it! Build your skill in addressing conflict as most people are conflict-averse and avoid situations where they need to engage others in a difficult conversation. 

Throughout the course, I’m been reflecting on a series of questions that I want to share with you. I would be curious for you to share your thoughts using #ATDMACPersonalPower on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

  • What does power mean to me?  
  • Is there one qualityI feel is more important than any others to obtaining power? 
  • Are there any qualities I feel are astrength for me?  
  • What are the qualities I’d like to develop?
  • Is power important for me to have?


Jennifer Stangl is the Director of Professional Development at CUES. She also serves as the Past President of ATD-MAC.

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