As leaders influence is important and leveraging your influence in a positive manner is vital. We’ve all seen leaders use there influence to manipulate and connive, it behooves us to use the influence we have to do something positive. However what happens when you go to the other extreme and are a powerless and ineffective. It’s important as leaders that we strike a healthy balance between egalitarian and power, the great leaders know how to leverage there influence in that manner.
How Do You Strike a Balance Between Fair and Power-Monger?
That last thing any leader worth his salt is to be perceived as a power-monger. No one wants to be considered the the type of executive as one who lies, steals, and cheats there way to the top. However, in an effort to create egalitarianism, to make direct reports feel valued and included, and to avoid risks associated with making tough calls, these leaders struggled to exercise the power necessary to lead change and lead their departments. I want to talk about a couple of ways that a leader can strike a balance between being fair and being a power-monger.
Making a Decision
The paralysis is one of the most widespread forms of abdication, and can have crippling effects on an organization. It’s important that you be willing to stick to a decision. There is wisdom in the participatory model of leadership, however if the buck stops with you – you have to be willing to step up and say this is what we’re doing. A leader is won’t abdicate there responsibility to making the final decision. Now I do want to reiterate a great leader will utilize appropriate metrics, data, and get the necessary advice for said project – but a real leader isn’t afraid of making the decision.
Over-inclusion also inhibited leaders’ decisiveness. Fearful leaders delude themselves thinking the way to disperse risk is by getting lots of people involved. While including those who must live with a decision’s consequences is important, over-including people at the expense of action isn’t consensus-building, it’s hiding. By over-including people your not avoiding dissension or risk, it actually heightens it.
Vision Focused Direction
Accommodation is pandering to the agendas of others at the expense of a greater good. Yes, people feel deep ownership when they have greater control over the direction of their projects — but that kind of empowerment should never come at the expense of a broader organizational agenda. Senior leaders can shape that strategic direction while still leaving plenty of room for others to make choices that translate the vision into action. Doling out “yeses” to resource requests for individuals’ agendas “so they feel ownership” is not empowerment, it’s abandonment. Narrowing priorities and focus to strengthen execution is one of an executive’s greatest unifying contributions. When the need to say “yes” overpowers the courage to say “no,” it fragments organizations, and results in the final form of abdication.
Tolerating poor performance is in organizations where people are confused by too many competing priorities and grappling with poorly allocated resources, there’s a lot of poor performance. Once people conclude the plan can’t be taken seriously because the priorities change by the day, their commitment to drive the strategy is diluted, and results falter. To avoid exposing their own hypocrisy, the executive who set the mayhem in motion can’t call the question on the performance free-fall, so must tolerate it. Paradoxically, doling out too many yeses serves to exterminate the very ownership an executive sought to strengthen and leads the splintered organization into the performance pitfall they so desperately believed they were avoiding. Excellence always needs to be demanded, without mayhem will ensue and the team will never get to the place they want to go.
Power is an essential asset, but it needs to be balanced properly and appropriately…
Power, if stewarded correctly is the currency that generates results. It can right organizational injustices, nurture promising talent, and drive great achievements. It requires careful stewardship, yes, but the way to make good things happen is by embracing your influence, not fearing it.