What would you say are the qualities of truly powerful people? I’m not talking about those whose power stems from being in a position of authority, or those who impose their power through force. If you think of someone who’s truly ‘living in’ their power, what do they look, sound and act like? Not all heroes wear capes, after all…
I have been obsessed with the word Power since I decided to write my latest book, Power Up. Through my research and reflections, I’ve realised that there’s a lot more to power than you might think.
Firstly, like strength, power doesn’t have to be obvious. The most powerful people in this world often have a subtle power that doesn’t shout for attention. Secondly, there are many shades of power, from a quietly compelling magnetism to an emotionally charged, high-octane force and everything in between, which is just as well: imagine if we were all tuned to max power all the time, striding around like Wonder Woman on steroids. It would be too much! Thirdly, power is a paradox: unless we’re power-hungry egomaniacs, we only want it when it’s absent or taken away.
In researching my book, which I’ve dedicated to smart women to address the imbalance of power currently in most organisations, but which is applicable to everyone, I examined the characteristics that powerful women share, characteristics which you can emulate if you are looking to develop your personal power.
As part of the process, I interviewed and observed women who exemplify the P word in its varied forms. To qualify, they had to have achieved a level of success in their professional and personal lives – earning positions of authority in the workplace or community. Crucially, their worth was not confined to material wealth, but respect in their field on account of the difference they were making.
Throughout this research, I met women who feel just as comfortable exercising hard power – being directive, even summoning and channelling anger when required – as they do exercising soft power – for example, choosing to remain quiet to give others space to share their points of view.
Through my research, I found that at a fundamental level, women who access their full range of power possess the following qualities, all of which are explored in more detail in the chapters of the book. They are:
- Driven, purposeful and clear about what they’d like to achieve, radiating an inner confidence in their ability to accomplish their goals.
- Aware of their natural strengths, as well as their weaknesses, dedicating time to reflect on and address the opportunities and threats they face.
- Conscious of their values and beliefs and how to stay true to them through the various roles they play in all aspects of life.
- Clear on their boundaries and areas of flex – where they are prepared to compromise and the lines they will not cross.
- Willing to draw on all sources of power, choosing when to lead from the front and when to join the ranks and lead from the back, with and through people.
- Comfortable ‘standing in their power’, with a strong posture, bold movements, a clear voice and direct message.
- Able to manage their own emotional state and regulate their moods, minimise negative self-talk, handle nerves and remain cool-headed while all about them are losing theirs.
- Adept at conserving energy, knowing when to power up and power down.
- Aware of their magnetic power of attraction and able to ‘switch it on’ to get what they want.
- Willing to sacrifice being liked for being respected, whilst appreciating that relationships are the foundation for success.