12 Powerful Ways to Make People Feel Powerful
Lousy leaders feel powerful by making others feel powerless.
You can’t grasp power and give it at the same time.
Leaders who fear losing power are afraid to make others feel powerful.
3 things powerless leaders think:
- Don’t outshine me.
- I matter most.
- I’m right behind you. You take the risk.
4 things powerless people think:
- No one listens.
- No one notices.
- It won’t work.
- The boss doesn’t care.
7 beliefs that inspire feelings of power:
- Personal skills and passions are relevant and respected. You belong.
- Hard works pays off. Drifting is called out.
- Progress is respected.
- Success is likely.
- Honest mistakes are learning experiences.
- Seizing current opportunities leads to new opportunities.
- Leadership recognizes and supports effort.
Those who feel powerful act with boldness.
12 powerful ways to make others feel powerful:
- Answer confusion by defining success.
- Give others as many choices as possible. Choice makes you feel powerful.
- Get people focused on what they can control rather than what they can’t. It’s natural to think about what won’t work. Focusing on what you can’t do causes people to feel powerless.
- Create roadmaps to success with short-term wins. People feel powerful when they believe they can win. How will people know they are winning today? Winning enhances power; losing drains it.
- Surrender power to create power. Let others have power.
- Give choices. Choices make people feel powerful. How are you giving choices today?
- Engage others early, frequently, and deeply. It may be faster in the beginning to do it yourself, but in the end, you get further with engagement.
- Be reliable. Fear grows when leaders aren’t reliable.
- Make decisions. Uncertainty drains power.
- Make others believe their voice matters.
- Eliminate complexity.
- Lower doubt and anxiety.
Feelings of power increase with feelings of usefulness.
How do leaders make others feel powerless? Powerful?
Who made you feel powerful? What did they do?
What made me feel powerful was the desire, the conviction, to make a positive difference
Thanks Rajiv. I hear you. Drive has so much to do with this. However, even people with drive can have the steam kicked out of them by lousy leaders. Cheers
This is SO valid and validating. I’ve had the misfortune of having bullies for bosses and it really comes down to everything in this posting! Well done and keep up the great posts!
Thanks J. It’s great to add the term bully to the conversation. Bullies disempower people! That’s a whole new line of thought.
The advantages of having bad bosses is that you know how NOT to be a boss. Do you best anyway, ask God for wisdom and someday you will be a boss others can look up to.
Great points! To answer your question at the end, I’d say one way I’ve seen leaders make others feel powerless is by micromanaging their team’s work, especially when they overturn decisions/actions employees have taken that were perfectly sound — in other words, not doing so legitimately, perhaps to correct an error or policy violation. Instead, it comes off more as trying to exert control just because they can, or rather, want to remind others they can. Thanks for bringing this up; this post is very helpful!
Thanks Kernel. Good call on micromanagers. Then the addition of overturning decisions really turns the light on to how leaders make others feel powerless. Cheers
Agreed, micromanagers kill spirit and creativity. It makes for an anxious work environment. It seems childish to need to focus on the concept of power when: first, ego needs to remain in the private realm not in business, second, power needs to lay in the success of the organization and not obsessed over by individuals, and third, no man is an island so hegemonic leaders need to build a bridge to get off that island and over themselves 😉
“When failure occurred, the leader owned that failure. When success came, he gave it to his team. The best management lesson I have learned did not come to me from reading a book; it came from that experience,”~ Abdul Kalam ( ex president and scientist) had said.
Really enjoy your content, great stuff!
Thanks Rod. Best to you.
Woah, wait. So creating a workplace permeated by micromanagement, a “culture of perfect,” and favoritism is NOT empowering for employees? That’s insane. My head hurts trying to deal with this contradiction.
Seriously…my office operates on the principle of “The manager is always right.” Maybe that’s why there has been an exodus of people from this place in the last three years.
Thanks Paul. Oh! My! I was all wrong. So sorry. It’s back to making people feel powerless. Boy, that’s a load off. 🙂
When leaders are unreliable, it create fear. It is true. People become fearful about their success. They become cautious for their future. They stop taking risks and being creative. Lousy leaders feel more comfortable in such situations, as people also tend to leave. People feel powerless and lousy leaders feel powerful. Ultimately, it is the organisations, that lose. This is how, leaders make others powerless. They create a information paralysis situation. They keep others in dark about the various information.
When they start providing right and timely information, they start creating good environment. They become reliable. And people start dispelling fear. People need interaction and communication from leaders. Leaders discouraging interaction, create fear and those who encourage it create enthusiasm. The approach determines who is leader and who is manipulator.
Thanks Dr. Gupta. The addition of communication to this post is important. People can’t feel powerful if they feel they are out of the loop. Cheers
Leaders that rule with an Iron fist tend to make one feel powerless “My way or the Highway attitude”. Leaders who support you make you feel powerful to some extent, there are borderlines to negotiate on how much power one has. Leaders who back me up may me feel supported not so much powerful! I think powerful is misleading, respect from workers and Leaders out weigh the power ego trip and provide a comfort zone as compared to lack of respect and support.
Thanks Tim. I notice you exploring the idea of feeling powerful. The term is somewhat loaded for sure.
It’s true, that leaders who exercise authority tend to make people feel powerless. I struggled with this when I wrote the post because a healthy use of authority can also make people feel powerful. When leaders use authority to establish boundaries or remove barriers they help people feel powerful. But there’s a dark side also.
Dan, once again you deliver the goods.
Can you elaborate on what you mean by “Eliminate complexity”? It appears that complexity and ambiguity are generally increasing in the world.
Thanks Bruce. Organizations always tend to become more complex. Rules, policies, and procedures multiply, for example. Effective leaders clear the path so people can spend as much time as possible doing what they love. Glad you asked.
Excellent post. Right on the mark.
When your ability, input, advice etc are look down or wash away by a simple joke from leaders you feel powerless.
When what you have is expressed or exhibit by another who was preferred over you by a leader you also feel powerless.