How to get more power?
You should want more power because power is the ability to get things done.
When people say they don’t want power, chances are they are reacting against the abuse of power. For example, Hitler used power for evil ends. Additionally, we despise politicians and business leaders when they abuse power by exploiting others and serve themselves.
Power and Fear
The more you grasp power the more it grasps you. Those afraid of losing power feel the need to cling to it. You demonstrate you’ve lost power when you manipulate, demand, give ultimatums, and withhold power from others,
When leaders cling to power their personal limits become organizational limits.
You can always spot leaders afraid of sharing power; they are over worked and feel under appreciated.
I think it’s normal and healthy to want power. The issue isn’t wanting power it’s how you get it and how you use it.
You enhance your power by giving it away. Real power isn’t about what you do but about what you teach others to do.
You extend your power when you enable others. The secret to getting more power is helping others achieve and succeed.
You establish your power by upholding high standards and enabling positive results. People with power aren’t push overs. Empower others that align with your values. Never empower others that reject organizational mission and vision.
How do you spot power-abusers?
How can leaders enhance their power?
What an important topic for leaders to consider. Consistent with your comments, I like to think that leaders will increasingly grasp the notion of power under rather than over. That is, demonstrating the power to motivate, inspire and help people be there best.
Examples of power abusers:Leaders who are bullies, who retaliate, who say, “Because I say so”, who implement unfair policies, who create uncertainty, who challenge security, who don’t honor staffs’ autonomy.
Just a few examples of how to enhance power: Increase self reflection through coaching, collaborate more, ask more questions (talk less), acknowledge and appreciate efforts, be humble and generous, listen and act on input that indicates what they are doing that disempower staff and make relationships important.
You’ve left us a super comment. I love the expression, “power under rather than over.” Rather than being at the top of the heap, leaders are at the bottom of the heap, lifting others.
Thanks for sharing your insights with us.
Another great post Dan. To answer your questions:
How do you spot power-abusers?
When looking for team members to develop and empower, I look at who they are and how they treat others already. It can be as simple as the way they interact with wait staff in a restuarant, members of their team or even family situations. If the negative power behaviors you describe are present in these situations, you are likely to see them reappear when more power is given in the workplace.
How can leaders enhance their power?
A focus on core values both personally and organizationally combined with a strong ability to execute on the organization’s mission leads to results. And when you get results, you are granted more responsibility and authority which are the underpinnings of power.
I had a chance to read and review an excellent new book on women and power in September. It’s called “No Excuses: 9 ways women can change how we think about power”. You can find the review and links to the book at the CP blog. http://bit.ly/bHLYW3
Thanks for sharing the power of your words with us.
Wonderful post, under-discussed leadership topic. Thanks!
There are some “power-abusers” who are easy to spot. They exert their influence loudly, abusively, and rudely. With them, there’s no doubt there’s something going on that is not aligned with organizational mission and vision. I think it’s a bigger challenge to spot power-abusers who are less overt – perhaps by being selective about who they enable to succeed while others flounder – thus creating pockets of resentment that can detract from organizational mission and vision.
This post already has some really good suggestions about how leaders can enhance their power. I would add that leaders can enhance their power by being a bit vulnerable – not pushovers – but human. My most overt yeller/imposer of a “walking-on-eggshells” environment had several life events happen concurrently, including coming face to face with a life threatening medical diagnosis. I observed a considerably different approach in her leadership after that – she didn’t become all warm and fuzzy, but there were subtle changes in how she interacted with us and speaking only for myself, I felt more “heard” when I had information to share than I had prior to her transformation. Just like everyone, leaders do have the capacity to change, even if they have been in the leadership trenches a long time.
Great point Paula abut the less overt power abusers, they may cause deeper damage in the long term and because it may not be seen immediately, you may lose key people who cannot work in that type of environment, furthering the harm to an organization.
The best way to enhance my power as a leader goes also through showing the reasons behind why I have power in first place.
I don’t like power given to people for birth’s right, so to say. When people working under you see you earned what you have, they’ll be more inclined to follow your lead, thus giving you more power.
On of the strategies a leader can use to empower followers is to think in terms of training your own replacement. What would you want your replacement to know in order to do your job and training your followers to think the same way. This method elevates the capabilities of the entire organization.
Way to go with the legacy angle Wayne…that is a powerful point and gets us looking beyond the short term to long term success and positive change.
Dan, you have tapped a loaded mine of great nuggets today…thanks for sharing. On one end of the power continuum, you note the power clinging leaders, the fearful leaders and on the other end, the leaders who extend, enhance, establish and inspire via power.
And again, another word, power, that tends to have many negative connotations and yet, it can be the tool for positive change.
It seems power is a bit illusory, you noted Dan, the harder one tries to grasp it the more it grasps you and I think, the more it slips away.
The Wizard of Oz comes to mind in this discussion too..”ignore the man behind the curtain”…wherein the true power may lie.
Power abusers seem to use power ‘over’ others which fits within a framework of power, control and coercion…all of which may, usually only in the short term, achieve short term results. They may feel the need to show or flaunt their power.
Perhaps more effective in the change process is those leaders who generate power ‘with’ others as they build collaborations and bridges while developing longer term alliances. Often this is a more functional or healthy approach to use of power.
Grassroots organizations and individuals that truly believe in their efforts also have power ‘within’. Very powerful. Groups of people have the power ‘to’ make changes, often demonstrated by grassroots organizations.
Huge topic, potential for many thread offshoots…Foucault, French, Raven, Kanter, Lukes, Miller, a whole cadre of folks have great observations on the implications of power.
Nice article about power and what the true power is.
I think it is really about others who work for you.
You make an argument for the healthiness and positive qualities of power, however the examples and characteristics of power that you give can easily be used for very negative outcomes. Because of this, I would argue that it isn’t how someone gets power or how they use it, but why they get it and why they use it (i.e. intent). My modifications in parentheses.
You enhance your power by giving it away (to the right people).
You extend your power when you enable others (to do the right thing).
You establish your power by upholding high standards (for the right purpose) and enabling positive results (to the right end).
Even then, things can go foul, but at least it is qualified by good intent.
>>How do you spot power-abusers?
Power-abusers are those, who give up everything to gain power.
>>How can leaders enhance their power?
By empowering others.
Visualize power as a, light from a candle.
One candle can light up many candles and then the room becomes bright
I think some people have no idea what it means to be a leader, it’s more than just power. Instead of just commanding people some should just lead them and show them. That’s what Jesus did and that’s what people remember!
I hope that made sense. Great post
Desire to have power creates fear. Fear of being dominated, fear of insecurity, fear of being exposed etc. So, to protect fear, people plays strategic game. Strategic games are nothing but backstabbing, backbiting, sycophancy, distorting information for pure selfish reason. These are the qualities of power abusers. The question is why people want power and what kind of power. I think there are two kinds of power. They are given and created. Given power is organizational position where person serves for particular period and afterwards retires. Created position is acquired power by creating opportunity where people do not retire because they have created it and it is not position given. It is usually in the first category, where people need power. Why they need it because of three reason. Lack of competency in terms of knowledge and value competence.
Second reason is lack of alternative support in terms of financial, social and moral support. Unfortunately, people neglect social aspects and they think their work place everything. But the fact is that, life is beyond workplace. The third reason is attachment. People are so attached to their position that they can do anything and everything to get and protect position. Their egos are usually attached to their position and when they leave the position, Ego and power both go off.
I think, leaders can enhance their power by meeting above-mentioned three requirement. I strongly agree that power abusers are the most fearful people. You challenge them and see their reactions. They try to avoid your question because of being exposed. The reality is that, it is only in imagination that getting power satisfies and makes you pride but feeling pride and satisfied is internal state of mind which power perhaps can not provide.
i want power
By getting power is to first empower yourself and to set a standard so high, and to achieve that standard. Once you’ve broken that barrier between you and your goal, you should be able to demonstrate this to everyone in order to empower the people surrounding you. When everyone has achieved the level you have broken through you could just repeatedly, repeat setting a better standard and then everyone following you.
Probably the best power is the power of involving everyone and directing and guiding them to a goal without them noticing it. Real power could actually never be described since the people who have this does not have the need and reason to show it. People who flaunts their power are actually just wannabes.