The Debate Over Positional Leadership Vs Personal Leadership

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In any organization, there are leaders and followers. Leaders are those who occupy a position of authority, while followers are those who look to the leader for guidance. While positional leadership is the most common form of leadership in organizations, personal leadership is becoming increasingly popular. There are pros and cons to both types of leadership, but which one is right for your organization? Read on to find out!

What is positional leadership and what is personal leadership?

Positional leadership is the leadership that comes with a formal position of power within an organization. Personal leadership, on the other hand, is the leadership that comes from an individual’s personal qualities and abilities.

Both positional and personal leadership have their advantages and disadvantages. Positional leadership can give an individual a great deal of authority and influence, but it can also be abused. Personal leadership can be more effective in some situations, but it can also be less stable. Ultimately, the best leader is one who is able to use both types of leadership effectively.

Key differences between positional leadership and personal leadership

There are several key differences between positional leadership and personal leadership:

  1. Positional leadership is typically more formal and structured than personal leadership. Positional leaders often have designated roles and responsibilities within an organization, while personal leaders may not have such clearly defined roles.
  2. Positional leaders typically have more authority than personal leaders. This means that they can make decisions that bind others within the organization, whereas personal leaders generally have less authority to do so.
  3. Positional leaders are often held accountable for the performance of their team or department, whereas personal leaders may not be held to such stringent accountability standards.

Pros of positional leadership over personal leadership

Positional leadership has several advantages over personal leadership:

  1. Positional leaders have more formal authority, which can be used to rally employees and get them to buy into the leader’s vision.
  2. Positional leaders often have more resources at their disposal, which can be used to further the goals of the organization.
  3. Positional leaders are often more visible than personal leaders, which can help to build trust and credibility with employees.
Leader of Corporate
Leader of Corporate

Cons of positional leadership compared to personal leadership

There are several key disadvantages of positional leadership compared to personal leadership:

  1. Positional leaders often have less credibility with their followers than do personal leaders. This is because followers typically see positional leaders as having obtained their position through political means or by accident, rather than through any real demonstration of ability or leadership qualities. As a result, followers may be less likely to trust and respect a positional leader, which can make it more difficult for the leader to get things done.
  2. Positional leadership can lead to a feeling of disconnection between the leader and the followers. This is because positional leaders tend to focus on their own authority and status, rather than on establishing a strong connection with their followers. This can make it difficult for positional leaders to build trust and rapport with their followers, which can ultimately make it harder for them to get things done.
  3. Positional leadership can also lead to a sense of entitlement among leaders. This is because positional leaders often view themselves as being above the people they are supposed to be leading. As a result, they may be less likely to listen to feedback or criticism from their followers, and more likely to act in a dictatorial manner. This can ultimately alienate followers and make it difficult for the leader to achieve their goals.

Pros of personal leadership over positional leadership

There are several key advantages that personal leadership has over positional leadership:

  1. Perhaps most importantly, personal leadership is not dependent on a specific job or title within an organization. This means that anyone can be a personal leader, regardless of their position within the company.
  2. Personal leadership focuses on developing relationships and building trust, rather than relying on formal authority. This can lead to greater buy-in from team members and overall better performance.
  3. Personal leadership requires ongoing learning and development, which can help individuals continuously improve their skills.
female leaders
female leaders

Cons of personal leadership compared to positional leadership

There are a few key differences between personal leadership and positional leadership:

  1. Positional leaders are often more concerned with maintaining power and control, while personal leaders are more focused on developing their own skills and abilities.
  2. Positional leaders may be more likely to micromanage their teams, while personal leaders tend to trust their team members to do their best work.
  3. Positional leadership may require more formal training and experience, while personal leadership is more about developing your own authentic style.

Situations when positional leadership is better than personal leadership

There are certain situations when positional leadership is better than personal leadership:

  1. When a team or organization is facing a difficult challenge, it may be necessary for the leader to step in and take charge in order to ensure that the team is successful.
  2. If there is conflict within the team or organization, positional leadership can help to resolve the issue.
  3. Positional leaders typically have more authority than personal leaders, which can be helpful in getting things done.
  4. Positional leaders often have more resources at their disposal than personal leaders, which can be helpful in achieving goals.

Situations when personal leadership is better than positional leadership

There are a few key situations when personal leadership is better than positional leadership:

  1. If the person in the position of leadership does not have the experience or knowledge to effectively lead, then personal leadership can be more effective.
  2. If the team or organization is going through a period of change or transition, personal leadership can help to provide stability and direction.
  3. If the goal of the team or organization is something that requires creative thinking and innovation, personal leadership can be more effective in motivating and inspiring people to achieve that goal.
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Positional Leadership Vs Personal Leadership Summary

As we have seen, personal leadership and positional leadership are two distinct but related concepts. Personal leadership is the ability to lead from within oneself, while positional leadership is the ability to lead based on one’s position or rank in an organization. There are pros and cons to both approaches, and the best way to determine which is best for you or your organization is to assess the situation and objectives. In general, personal leadership is more effective when leading change or innovation, while positional leadership is better suited for stability and maintenance.

However, there are exceptions to every rule, so it is important to be flexible and adaptable in your approach. What do you think? When have you seen personal leadership be more effective than positional leadership (or vice versa)? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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