Leadership Distinction #32: Power

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Leadership Distinction #32: Power
Increase your Power in this world (but probably not the way you think)

Ever notice how the topics that pepper our business conversations involve sheets? Balance sheets, term sheets, spread sheets. But sheets are surfaces. Surfaces are too limiting for this series. We like to go below them. For example, when we spoke about Belief in a previous blog we were delving into the philosophy that buttresses the leading of a business organization. And today, when we speak about Power, we are diving into human psychology. 

When I raise the subject of Power with MBA students they invariably talk about Power in organizational terms, in relationship terms — the ‘Power-over’.  For leaders this is the most precarious dimension of Power. There are other Power dimensions, a cycle of psychological dimensions in fact, that, if handled wisely, will prevent landing in trouble when the ‘Power-over’dimension is at hand for a leader.

To begin with in this cycle, if we are open to it, there is latent ‘Power-in’ situations. The less rigid our mental models are, the more we are able to observe in the world around us — and the more powerful possibilities we may discover from our interpretation of experience.  If we are stirred to change things we must conjure up a notion of what would be better. The ‘Power-of’ our idea blended with what we perceive to be our individual ‘Power-to’ execute our vision will lead to the organizational role we ultimately find ourselves in.

When the ‘Power-in’ prompts you to seek better futures, when the ‘Power-of’ fortifies self-belief enough for you to begin in earnest, and when your ‘Power-to’ draws in the commitment of others, you arrive more securely at that place where ‘Power-over’ is less important, is less necessary to effect the change you seek.

When ‘Power-over’ is required to get things done in an organization it signals a misalignment – a confusion of “why’s”. Misalignment of this sort means someone did not understand or did not convey the truth of his or her motivations. Ignoring these philosophical and psychological dimensions of organizational life will produce yet another sheet – one that shrouds a business that used to be.

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Episode 31