Power in the Face of Disruption
The difference between wannabe leaders and actual leaders is focus.
I’ve been asking leaders, “What would make this week just a little better than last week?” A diet of doom and gloom is making me gag.
Please tell me what you can do, not what you can’t.
You might need to dig through a pile of crap, but all leaders emerge with a shining point of personal responsibility – something they CAN DO.
Successful leaders focus their energy on imperfect points of action.
I don’t mean to minimize current or future challenges. I mean to shift focus from powerless to powerful.
Powerless or powerful:
Focusing on weakness feels like being hugged by a teddy bear, until teddy shows his teeth.
Weakness languishes in the false comfort of blame and resentment. Solace and self-affirming complacency are the destructive teeth of weakness.
You ignore your power when you focus on things you can’t control.
The challenge of power:
Everyone who ignores their power validates the things they complain about.
The challenge of owning your power is personal responsibility. You’re stuck until you embrace things you can do and forget about things you can’t control.
Expend your energy on nudging the agenda forward, not on grieving.
Expressions of power:
Here are some of the responses I received when I asked, “What would make this week just a little better than last week?”
- Mail handwritten thank you notes to each leader on my team.
- Teach people how to be present.
- Recognize that the team is adaptable, flexible, dependable and willing to do what’s necessary. My job is to ensure they know they are valued.
- Craft unifying messaging that the leadership team fully embraces.
- Convince my team to see opportunities in COVID-19.
Success is always about something you can do, not what you can’t.
What expressions of weakness are you seeing?
How might leaders help others embrace their power?
This is a time for leaders to lead from the front. Walk into the breach ahead of your people. Remind them of the vision and the mission based on shared success and values. Let them know how their unique work contributes in an important and impactful way. Share your Macro view from you’re situational awareness so they have a sense of obstacles and opportunities And feel empowered to act. Celebrate the small advances and share the difficulties. Bring them through the fight so the team and the individuals are stronger on the other side. Eventually they will have the experiences on which to call for future challenges and the common bond of doing what others couldn’t do at a time when others folded. They’ll walk taller act stronger and develop quicker for succession planning.
Thanks Bushee… Macro-view and small advances make so much sense to me. People loose sight of the big picture when they’re lost in the weeds. Celebration of small advances actually serves to provide a macro-view when done skillfully.
Sometimes I just don’t want to, but I do anyways. The importance of not getting burned out and re-energizing yourself everyday is that it allows you to think of things you can do. Not talking from experience here, just talking.
Thanks Robb. When it comes to managing energy, managing your own is a beginning. Helping others manage theirs is another part. How one fuels the energy of others seems to matter more the longer this drags on.
The challenge of owning your power is personal responsibility. You’re stuck until you embrace things you can do and forget about things you can’t control. The key for me to the Expressions of Power that are put forth. Years of experience Chasing the things you can’t control and failing at those help one embrace the things one can do. My guess is that’s how it has been designed.
Thanks Roger. It was obvious when I started getting responses to my question that some people were leaders and some were victims.
In a strange way, trying to control things we can’t control made me feel powerful and important…like I was doing something big and important. It’s those imperfect improvements that make the difference. It’s not dramatic….but it’s effective.
(Of course some decisions during crisis are dramatic, but many are rather unimpressive.)
Sometimes, like now it is simply taking the time to connect with your team. Due to COVID-19, our whole team is working remotely. This has led to a sense of disconnect. Yesterday our team had a ZOOM meeting that was just for us to be able to connect. The only questions were: what is nice about working from home, what are the challenges of working from home? Being able to speak openly allowed the whole team to share successes and failures and helpful tips and just have a few minutes of levity. I respect the leaders for recognizing the need to connect and making it happen.
to paraphrase Tom Hanks in Major Leagues:
“There’s no whining in business!??? Come on! … get in there!”
You’re stuck until you embrace things you can do and forget about things you can’t control. Reminds me of Circle of Influence vs. Circle of Concern in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey.
Let us all do what good we can.
This reminds me of something I saw yesterday, “If cauliflower can be pizza, you can be anything.” This is a very heavy time for many. I don’t think we will return to business as usual and new opportunities have already revealed themselves.
On a more formal note, this speaks to how we will assess the current situation for future action. “The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs to be ruled by evil men.” – Plato
This is a call to action for those that want to change the trajectory of our nation, through leadership, public service, and/or contribution, we must ask yet another question. How do you see yourself contributing to the growth of our Union?
Focusing on the “can” and not the “can’t” is something that I have been working on for the past 3 years (I’m 43 years old). It’s something about that age that changed everything. Suddenly I was no longer sweating the small stuff and figuring out new ways to get the things that I want in life. I absolutely felt stuck for a long time before that sudden change. Since then, it is very easy for me to spot someone who is stuck in that same place that I was in for so long. I think that it is my obligation to help lost people navigate their way out. I wish that someone had stepped in and helped me 20 years ago.
This is a very thought-provoking concept. We often tend to concentrate on weaknesses, believing that our strengths will take care of themselves. Clearly this can lead to a feeling that we are always facing the worst in an organization. I work in an occupational health environment, where many people have become frustrated by the fact that we are unable to get people back to work, because there is no work for them to return to. This is creating “needless” disability. However, in the midst of all these challenges, some unexpected benefits (“powers”) have become evident. Many of our injured workers live in remote or rural communities, and it is difficult for them to access specialized medical and rehabilitative services. With so many service providers, including medical specialists, psychologists and even physiotherapists offering telehealth services, we have found that many of our injured worker can now access these services from their own homes.
The COVID-19 pandemic also reveals countless examples where concentrating on strengths rather than weaknesses leads to progress and success. While the pandemic has laid bare so many instances of weakness (lack of adequate PPE, shortage of test kits etc.) it has triggered a wave of ingenuity. From people using their home-based 3D printers to create face shields or gadgets to protect ears from mask loops, to manufacturers retooling factories to produce ventilators and medical engineers figuring out how to sanitize and re-use N95 masks, concentrating on what we can do best, rather than what we seem helpless against has put a dent in the pandemic’s power over us.
While we can never completely ignore our weakness, concentrating on our strengths and powers models what we are striving for, and motivates us to overcome our weaknesses. And of course, concentrating on our power is much more fun to do. I therefore intend to stop fretting about my inability to avoid pandemic carbs, and instead concentrate on baking the best sourdough breads in town.
It is nice to remember that we need accept responsibility for ourselves, sometimes. Life is so out of control right now that it feels easy to be complacent with mediocrity. I am not sure I agree that forgetting about the things we cannot control is the right play, but definitely that we should be minimizing their influence on our lives in order to keep our heads above water and move forward. Even if the things that we can do to move forward are small, it is certainly better than nothing. The idea of creating unifying messages to help bind your team together, especially in times right now where we all feel so isolated, is an amazing idea. In the theme of positivity and focusing on what we can do, rather than wallowing in “false comfort of blame and resentment,” I think we should be considering what expressions of strength we have been seeing through this. In Louisiana we have seen an increase of volunteers to help with homeless, donations, and transporting food to vulnerable people. Louisiana State University is 3D printing test swabs to help keep up with demand and researchers are working diligently to help understand how this virus works. Seeing opportunities in COVID-19, as you say, can be an expression of power and so many people across the globe are coming into their own power and taking the steps forward to help those in need. I think the best way leaders can help others embrace their own power right now is by giving a realistic view of the situation but showing way that innovation can help raise us all up. It’s easy to feel powerless right now, but leaders have the excellent opportunity to reach out and encourage that power even while quarantine is dragging on. We should be encouraging exercise, eating right, and reclaiming your day!