Inner leaders are influential power users. Power—the ability to get others to do what the leader wants them to do, whether the others want to do so or not— is strongly reminiscent of the definition of inner leadership itself. The results of power use and of leadership are the same: to get others to behave in desired ways. It is the essential inner leader task, since power is the extra element in interpersonal relations that lets the leader prevail upon others and secure their compliance. The thing that separates the inner leader’s use of power from its use by top leaders is that these leaders get followers to willingly comply with their wishes rather than to merely obey orders.
Power use is part of the interpersonal interaction in any group (Fairholm, 1993). Inner leaders use power as a means to achieve some desired future action through the work of others. Power has utility for the inner leader, most often as an intermediary tool, to achieve some personal desired end value. What has been said about the leader’s use of power is equally applicable to every follower. It is a component of any social interaction; and, while little is discussed in the professional leadership literature, it is a useful tool to describe social interaction and measure member success.
Inner leaders engage in specific efforts to increase their own situational power. They also expend energy to empower their followers to act independently within the constraints of the common vison. Skill in personal power use and in engendering its directed use by others involves the inner leader in intense interpersonal relationships with followers, the central nature of which is influencing them to do what the leader wants done. It involves both learning the parameters of power, teaching that technology to followers, and creating opportunities for its synergistic use in accomplishing agreed-upon goals.
The successful employment of the techniques of power use demands inner leaders acquire expertise in areas not routinely used by top leaders. These techniques circumscribe a part of the inner leader’s work environment, an environment pregnant with power, competition, conflict, and opposition and yet redolent with potential satisfactions not attained in many other activities. These techniques include using power, empowering others, teaching and coaching stakeholders, and encouraging followers’ self-governance.