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What kind of person is powerful?

Power comes in many forms. Some people have positional power from their roles in society, like politicians, CEOs, or religious leaders. Others have financial power from their wealth and resources. There are those with social power, who influence others through their fame, reputation or social connections. Knowledge can also bring power, as can physical strength or skill. So what are the common traits and qualities of a powerful person, regardless of the form their power takes? Here are some quick answers before we dive deeper:

  • Confidence – Powerful people exude self-assurance and certainty.
  • Vision – They have a clear vision and sense of purpose.
  • Influence – They can persuade and impact others.
  • Decisiveness – They make firm decisions and take bold action.
  • Thick skin – Criticism and setbacks don’t stop them.

Let’s now explore the key attributes of powerful people in more detail.


One of the most distinctive traits of powerful individuals is self-confidence. They have a strong belief in their abilities and talents, and this allows them to take risks, pursue ambitious goals, and withstand criticism or failure. As Eleanor Roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Powerful people do not look to others to validate them or seek endless approval. Their sense of self-worth comes from within. This confidence allows them to voice opinions freely, try new approaches, and present bold visions. It also lets them exude charisma and certainty, which draws people to them and enhances their influence.

How to build self-confidence

For those seeking more confidence and personal power, there are some key strategies:

  • Identify your skills and talents – Make an inventory of your strengths.
  • Celebrate accomplishments – Keep track of successes large and small.
  • Visualize success – Imagine yourself achieving your goals.
  • Affirm yourself – Avoid negative self-talk and emphasize positive qualities.
  • Take risks – Move beyond your comfort zone and prove to yourself that you can handle challenges.
  • Fake it till you make it – Act confident, even if you don’t always feel it.

Gaining self-confidence takes time, but these steps can gradually boost belief in yourself and your abilities.


Powerful individuals all have a clear vision for what they want to achieve. They define their goals and dreams specifically, whether it’s building a business empire, achieving major social reforms, or gaining political control.

This clarity of vision serves two key purposes. First, it gives powerful people direction and a sense of purpose. Second, it lets them inspire followers. Powerful leaders invite people into their vision, convincing others to buy into their grand plans. A compelling vision makes it easier to motivate employees, unite citizens behind a cause, or persuade voters to offer support.

Visions held by the powerful are often ambitious, disruptive, or revolutionary. Regular folks may see them as implausible at first. But powerful people have the confidence and drive to pursue their vision in the face of skepticism. Their clarity and commitment make the vision feel inevitable to others over time. As one business leader put it: “You’ve got to dream before your dreams can come true.”

Developing a powerful vision

You need not be an iconic leader to benefit from having a personal vision. To create one:

  • Define your long-term goals across key aspects of life like career, relationships, lifestyle, etc.
  • Imagine the impact you want to have on the world.
  • Outline the legacy you hope to leave behind.
  • Describe the person you aim to become.
  • Craft an inspiring statement that summarizes your dreams and aspirations.

The more vivid and stirring your vision, the more motivated you will be to work toward it. Share your vision with others to enrich relationships and build a support network.


One of the clearest signs of power is the capacity to influence others. Powerful people shape opinions, change behaviors, and mobilize people through sheer force of personality.

This interpersonal influence stems from a mix of qualities like charm, eloquence, and confidence. Powerful individuals know how to tell engaging stories, win people over with humor, and stoke emotions by appealing to hopes or fears. They have refined intuition about what motivates different personalities, allowing them to tailor appeals and pitches.

Powerful people also wield influence through nonverbal communication. Strong body language – steady eye contact, open posture, authoritative voice – helps them establish dominance in any interaction. They dress and groom themselves to project success, knowing physical appearance affects perceptions. And they exude calm and poise under pressure, avoiding behaviors that undermine authority like fidgeting or indecisiveness.

How to increase your influence

Anyone can become more influential by:

  • Improving public speaking skills – Take a class and practice presenting.
  • Telling memorable stories – Prepare anecdotes that illustrate your ideas.
  • Mastering small talk – Initiate conversations and build rapport with strangers.
  • Learning persuasion methods – Study techniques like the foot-in-the-door approach.
  • Practicing confident body language – Adopt powerful poses and eye contact.
  • Asking good questions – Draw people out to understand their needs and motivations.

With effort, it is possible to develop into a charismatic person who commands any room.


Powerful people stand out for their willingness to make bold decisions. While others agonize or hesitate, the powerful take firm, confident action.

This decisiveness often stems from clarity of vision. Powerful individuals know what they want, which makes choices simpler. They also have strong opinions and trust their instincts. This allows them to avoid waffling or second-guessing. If a decision proves flawed, they accept responsibility, course correct, and move on.

Powerful people often have to act decisively with incomplete information. They weigh risks, consult experts when needed, and ultimately make a judgment call. Their confidence in their decision-making abilities allows them to commit and execute fast. This makes them natural leaders that others look to for direction.

Decisiveness is crucial for maintaining authority. Powerful people know that backtracking or public self-doubt undermines perceptions of competence. And people look to the powerful to offer certainty in uncertain situations.

How to be more decisive

To boost decisiveness:

  • Set daily decision-making goals – Like deciding your clothes for the week ahead of time.
  • Practice quick thinking – Set a timer and complete short puzzles and logic problems.
  • Write down pros and cons – Analyze your options systematically.
  • Trust your instincts – Go with your gut, especially on smaller choices.
  • Visualize fallout – Imagine potential outcomes of each option.
  • Ask for input if needed – Get advice, but own the ultimate decision.

With practice, decision-making can feel less daunting. Quickly weighing options and making calls will start to feel natural.

Thick Skin

One thing that powerful people inevitably attract is criticism. Envy, outrage, and resentment are directed their way from less powerful segments of society. Their ideas and decisions will also face skepticism and disapproval at times.

Powerful individuals accept that criticism comes with the territory. More than that, they let it roll off their backs. They do not take attacks personally or waste time and energy obsessing over negative opinions. This thick skin allows them to weather any backlash and press on undeterred.

Confidence again plays a role here. Powerful people have such certainty in their vision and abilities that criticism cannot shake them. They feel no need for universal approval or validation. This frees them up to follow their convictions, regardless of naysayers.

It takes emotional intelligence for the powerful to separate fair critiques from empty attacks. Mature leaders acknowledge mistakes and feedback. But they avoid needless self-doubt by tuning out unproductive criticism.

How to grow thicker skin

For those discouraged by criticism:

  • Gain perspective – Will this matter in a year? Is the source credible?
  • Avoid taking it personally – Criticism tends to say more about the critic than you.
  • Focus on supporters – Concentrate on positive feedback and relationships.
  • Correct course if needed – But don’t second-guess every decision.
  • Remember your worth – No one critique defines your abilities or value.

Developing resilience and retaining self-confidence in the face of criticism are lifelong skills. But the effort pays dividends in terms of personal power.

Other Key Traits

Along with the major attributes above, powerful people often exhibit other notable traits:


The powerful pursue status, wealth, fame, and/or influence. They set stretching goals and sacrifice to achieve them.


Powerful people are willing to take bold risks and make unpopular moves. Fear of failure or action does not hold them back.


The emotionally intelligent powerful relate to people and understand their needs, goals, and desires. This aids their influence.

Social Skills

Powerful people build broad social networks and thrive in social settings. Charm and tact aid their rise.


Continuous learning, reading, and intellectual growth help the powerful make smart decisions.


The powerful excel at making pitches, winning over investors, attracting partners, and sealing deals.

Trait Description
Ambition Pursue status, wealth, fame, influence
Courage Take bold risks, make unpopular moves
Empathy Relate to people, understand needs
Social Skills Build networks, thrive socially
Curiosity Learn continuously, stay informed
Persuasiveness Excel at pitching ideas and deals

This table summarizes additional traits commonly seen in powerful individuals.

Using Power Responsibly

While personal power can be used for good, it also carries risks. History shows many examples of leaders who let their power corrupt them or inflate their egos. Absolute power is said to corrupt absolutely.

Responsible use of power comes down to mindset and maturity. Powerful people focused on serving others avoid becoming self-interested tyrants. Those who remain humble, thoughtful, and aware of their own flaws are less likely to overreach or abuse authority. Developing wisdom and emotional intelligence is crucial.

Powerful individuals dedicated to ethical principles can uplift society. But introspection is key. Checking your own motives and listening to constructive criticism ensures power brings out your best self. If you stay grounded, power becomes not just a perk but also a responsibility.

Staying grounded as a leader

To maintain perspective:

  • Stay connected to loved ones who keep you real.
  • Make time for self-reflection and introspection.
  • Surround yourself with honest advisors.
  • Listen to those less powerful and give them voice.
  • Admit mistakes quickly and share credit.
  • Practice humility and keep growing as a person.

With concerted effort, it is possible to hold power while remaining ethical, compassionate, and grounded.


Power manifests in many forms, but powerful people share key traits like confidence, vision, influence, and decisiveness. These attributes allow them to shape society, inspire followers, dominate social scenes, and achieve their ambitious goals. However, power must be managed responsibly through self-awareness, principles, and compassion towards others. The powerful have profound potential to improve lives or do harm. As Spiderman famously realized, “With great power comes great responsibility.”