“What’s Your Power Style? How to use Your Power to Help the Team?” “Tools for Exercising Power” Part 1 of 4

Personal Power



When addressing the topic of “Power” most people tend to view this in a negative way because they often times have been the recipient of the use of power being used in a manipulative way. I think it is this warped understanding of power that masks the reality that every person has power and how one exercises the use of that power denotes whether an individual is using power either in a beneficial or destructive way. Matter-of-fact, the use of power can be used both consciously and unconsciously and can help or hurt others regardless if one is or is not aware of the outcomes of their use of power. This is constantly being played out on a variety of leadership teams. For example, there is the person who has felt they have been victimized in their past and when debate or tensions rise in team that is processing through a variety of issues they may perceive the push back from somebody else concerning an idea they tabled as being a personal attack on them. This person begins to withdraw from the conversation with a disappointed scowl on their face that begins to draw attention to the himself or herself, rather than to assist in keeping the focus on the team discussion. When members ask this person if there is anything wrong he or she simply answers in a voice that is muted, “No I am alright.” Trust me when I state that anyone who has been in this situation discerns clearly that something is wrong. There is also the scenario of the individual who controls the discussion with verbal bullying or talking over people. Often, team members do not have the personal sense that they have have permission to challenge this behavior. So they concede to the person who is doing the bullying deciding that it is not worth the emotional energy to challenge the behavior in order to give their best to the team. Each one of these scenarios are examples of the use of personal power that is not helpful in developing healthy team dynamics..

janet Hagberg

If healthy and productive teams are going succeed in accomplishing their goals there must be a coherent understanding of what “Power” is and is not as well as a good assessment of each team member’s understanding of what their personal power style is based on where they are on their own stage-development as a person and leader. Many people perceive “Power” as something which comes from the externals of life such as achievement that comes from work related position and title. Janet O’ Hagberg in response to this understanding writes, “Real Power is becoming more than externally “powerful”; it is about people becoming personally powerful.[1] Janet Hagberg’s definition of personal power is: “Personal power results from combining external power (the capacity for action) with internal power (the capacity for reflection).” [2] Using Hagberg’s stage development of “personal power” presents that at one stage a person has very little personal power though he or she may have great external sources represented by organizational and political positions, expertise, titles, degrees, responsibility or authority. In Hagberg’s model “personal power” can only be developed from introspection, personal struggles, the gradual evolution of the life purpose, a spiritual connection with a power far greater than yourself, and from accepting and valuing yourself.[3] Below I have presented a chart that lists these stages as well as developmental characteristics of each stage:[4]

Stages of real power graph












The first three stages of power are externally focused which deals with more organizational power – “how-to-get-ahead” type of power. The next three stages of power deal with personal power that is internally focused and power is brokered differently than in the first three stages. The key on the developmental journey of each leader on whether they will become a more effective coach and mentor to others meaning that they will share power is how well a particular leader processes through “The Wall!” It is at the Wall that a person through a variety of forces must confront pain and in doing so allows their character and ego to become shaped in such a way that they more become reflective in their leadership. I will discuss more of “The Wall” experience in my next blog article but it is this part of the stage-life journey that a leader can become “one who more out for the success of others rather than their own success!”  Personal power is developed from the inside out. Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager, came home one day from elementary school thrilled; he had just been elected president of his seventh-grade class. His father, a retired admiral, said, “Son, it’s great that you are the president of the seventh grade. But now that you have the leadership position, don’t ever use it.” His dad continued, “Great leaders are followed because people respect them and like them, not because they have power.”[5]

The previous story challenges us then to ask several questions about leadership: Is leadership about wielding power and authority, or is it more about building relationships and through them accomplishing a mission? Some people use positional authority; that is, they use the authority of their position to make people do things their way. Both biblical and modern leadership literature, however, strongly support interpersonal relational aspects of leading people.[6] More relational and interpersonal leadership can increase respect and coöperation, making possible the fulfillment of a mission.

How do you move away from positional leadership to a more relational, interpersonal style? Effective leaders need different tools or styles to apply to different situations.

I am suggesting four tools that leaders can use in facing difficult challenges. These tools have been shown to help leaders effectively mobilize people in teams to move forward.[7]The four tools are sharing a clear vision, coaching, working together (Learning Community), and affirming. The wonderful power of these four tools is regardless of what stage a leader is at these can become effective in assisting the leader to become more self-aware concerning a mindset that could lead to creating obstacles with their use of power.

Starting Point – Becoming a Servant:

Relational leadership finds the grounding of it’s brokering of power in becoming a servant. The definition for relational leadership is, “Relational Leadership is defined as a relational process of people together attempting to accomplish change or make a difference to benefit the common good.”[8] People on not viewed as a means to an end but instead they are treated as valuable people who must be treated with dignity and respect. At first glance, servant-hood and leadership may seem to be opposites. However, Jesus Christ demonstrated true servant leadership by His actions as He served others.[9] His words to His emerging leadership core were, “The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves” (Luke 22:26, NIV). Jesus demonstrated servant-hood in His incarnation, “but made himself nothing, taking the very nature [form] of a servant” (Phil. 2:7, NIV). And those who would be followers of Jesus Christ heed His word to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3, NIV).

Jesus’ constant practice of Servant-  Leadership led Him to pick up the basin and towel and serve His disciples. Modern studies confirm this approach. Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, records his surprising findings about great companies and their top leaders. Collins found that leaders at the highest level, which he coined Level 5 Leaders, combine a deep sense of humility with unyielding determination.[10] The attitude of humility continues as one of the hallmarks of great servant leaders.

Prior to my “Wall” experience I brokered power from the first three stages of Hagberg’s model. Since that time I have had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of several Church Ministry Teams that participating on them has made be a better person because I lead with my heart. When you lead from your heart people connect with the real you. Leading from your heart does not mean you become less differentiated, but instead what it does mean is that people understand that you consider them as being valued.

Four Tools that Are Starting Points for Brokering Power:

Once you have developed a heart of a servant. Now one can begin to use these four tools in helping them in the use of power on the teams they lead:

  • Communicate A Clear Vision: Sharing a clear vision inspires people on dreaming again. A clear vision will also articulate a clear invitation on how each member of the team can take part and give their best in helping to accomplish a vision. People get intrinsically motivated when they can see how their contribution is going to make a difference in realizing how they can contribute to a vision being accomplished. Remember the classical biblical statement, “Where there is no vision the people perish” ( 29:18, KJV)? Conversely, we could say, “Where there is vision, people thrive.” A first step in becoming a vision-driven Leadership Team includes drafting a simple and concise vision statement that everyone understands and makes a commitment too.
  • As A Team Leader Be a Coach: Create a Culture of Trust in which you can come alongside of members of the team and coach them into their success. In a culture of trust you as the leader can share the areas that you are weak in order to model your own vulnerability. Behavior that models humility encourages members of the team to do the same creating the team to be “A Safe Place” by which team members can share their weaknesses without the fear of negative reprisal. Dr. Schaller when speaking of the pastor as a coach writes, “As a coach, you develop a relationship of trust that helps the person being coached feel free to discuss personal and ministry issues. You always remember that the agenda of the other person is of primary importance. Coaching isn’t about the coach; it’s about developing the person you are coaching. You listen and sparsely give input. For many pastors, this can be difficult, for pastors often listen and give suggestions and solutions. This creates dependency. However, the creation of accountability includes coaches drawing input from other people through the questions they ask.”[11]

 A Pastor who behaves like a coach broker’s power by coming along side of team members asking questions about what are the goals a team member would like to carry out? What are some of the skills he or she would like to develop? The key idea that I always communicate is we exist not simply to get the task done but to get people done! This empowers members of the team to be courageous in taking the risk and growing in new areas that they have never attempted to go before as they are encouraged by members of the team. In the area of coaching skills I always think one or two steps and progressions so that people can succeed without being overwhelmed by the process.

  • Create A Learning Community: Creating a learning community denotes that we are going to be using dialog and discussing new ideas as we explore ways of reaching the goals of our vision. Because of the strengths of different people on the team a form of cross-pollination begins to take place as members of the team help one another in toward their success. To successfully work together, a pastor might need to release more control and seek the viewpoints of others. The leader may need to become more vulnerable and humbly say, “I don’t have all the answers, and I need, and our group needs, everyone’s input.” I always like to say, “None of us are as smart as all of us.”

For a group to work together, it must respect each member’s viewpoints and encourage everyone to share. Someone must facilitate meetings so the group can hear both the dominant and the less dominant members.

With good leadership, people are more motivated to buy into joint decisions, the quality of decisions significantly rises, and people leave meetings with a greater desire to contribute. In a learning community the Team Leader brokers power by sharing it with others on the team.

  • Be A Team Leader that Affirms Members of the Team: Affirmation inspires people to give the best of themselves to others. Dr. Schaller when speaking of affirmation writes, “Affirmation can be defined as catching people making a contribution and giving them positive feedback.”[12] How I would begin this process with the teams that I have led is after a meeting we would take time for each person to affirm another person on the team. The benefits of affirmation when it comes from a sincere heart empowers people to begin to catch the success of the team versus their own personal success as being important. When a team does affirmation well they will also do correction well. For example, look at the Epistles that the Apostle Paul writes to the churches in which he affirms the churches for authentic characteristics and behaviors they have lived out but he would also take time lovingly correcting them. Why? Because the Apostle Paul had a track record that earned himself credibility. Biblical authority does not derive from a leader’s position but rather it is birthed from a leader’s earned credibility with those he is serving. Affirmation allows the leader to broker power from a position of genuine care for the people on the team. The consistent practice of Celebrating the teams successes we contribute to the team maintaining a healthy “communal attitude of gratitude”that will become contagious throughout an organization.

Here are some starting points that one can begin to practice if they have not arrived on the later stages of Hagberg’s model. The health of the interior life of a leader will make a difference in shaping the health of a team regardless of their role in the organization. How the “Lead Team” of any organization brokers power will help to shape the health and effectiveness of every team that is functioning throughout an organization.




[1] (Hagberg 2003) p xxi.

[2] (Hagberg 2003) p xxi.

[3] (Hagberg 2003) p xxi.

[4] (12 Manage)

[5] !Blanchard) p 11.

[6] (Hagberg 2003) p 156-166.

[7] (Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee) p 53-69.

[8] (Komives, S, Lucas, N., & McMahon, T) p 68-72.

[9] (Greg Schaller , Sally Herigstad)


[10] (Collins) p 22-23.

[11] (Greg Schaller , Sally Herigstad)

[12](Greg Schaller , Sally Herigstad)


Hagberg, Janet O’. 2003. Real Power: Stages of Personal Power in Organizations. Salem, Winsconsin: Sheffield Publishing Company.

Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence (Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2002), 53–69.

Greg Schaller , Sally Herigstad, Your leadership toolbox, https://www.ministrymagazine.org/archive/2006/11/your-leadership-toolbox.html

Jim Collins, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t (New York: Harper Collins, 2001).

Ken Blanchard, The Masters of Success (Sevierville, TN: Insight Publishing Company, 2005).

Komives, S, Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. (1998). Exploring Leadership for College Students What Want to Make A Difference. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

About PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”
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