How to Make People Feel Powerful


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Dominant, controlling leaders complain about helpless followers. They say things like, “No one takes initiative.”

The more control you exercise,
the less power they feel.

The more you say, “No,”
the more helpless they feel.

The more you rein in
the less initiative they take.

Controlling leaders:

  1. Prefer powerless followers, even though they complain about them. Controlling leaders teach helplessness.
  2. Focus on conformity. Forced conformity propagates learned helplessness.
  3. Produce, “It doesn’t matter,” attitudes. Someone wants to make it better and you say, “No.” Say no enough and helplessness sets in.

Five words you never want to hear, “What I do doesn’t matter.” How are you giving authority and control while expecting results?

How are you making people feel powerful?

Feeling powerful:

  1. Give control; expect results.
  2. Think focus not control. How can you focus energy, talent, and resources on what matters now? Establish focal points. Sideways energy – people pulling in different directions – frustrates and contributes to feelings of helplessness.
  3. Propagate happiness. Sadness and discouragement fuel helplessness. Happy people feel powerful.
  4. Make decisions. Indecisive leaders propagate “it doesn’t matter” attitudes.
  5. Expect and celebrate solutions. Provide room for falling short and fixing their own problems.
  6. Remain available but don’t help unless invited. Too much hands-off feels like abandonment. But, meddling teaches helplessness.
  7. Shift your view of complaints. Powerless people complain without offering solutions. Teach optimistic complaining. After hearing a complaint or concern, ask, “What do you suggest?”
  8. Follow your talent. Where employees can take you is more important than where you want to go.
  9. Find “yes.” “No” drains; “yes” ignites.
  10. Channel don’t stifle. Withhold frustration with initiative and passion. Find outlets and expressions.

Bonus: Think partner not employee.

How can leaders give power and expect results?

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