On Leadership, Fear and The Under Use of Power

Power Button

Years ago I shared an office in a house that had been converted to offices for independent practitioners. One day, in a session with a client, things admittedly got a little noisy.

The next day, I found a typewritten letter under my door, addressed to “The Occupants of Room 4.”

It read:

“On Wednesday April 16th, at approximately 10 am, there was an excessive amount of noise from Room 4 that disturbed the other tenants. Please be reminded this is a shared building, and noise should be kept to a minimum.”

It was signed by Greg, the physical therapist upstairs. I saw this guy every day on my coffee break.

So What’s Up?

Since I know this guy and saw him every day, I wondered why didn’t he simply knock on my door and ask me to keep it down? Or why didn’t he just leave a note in my box, asking me to be more sensitive next time? So in response, I wrote him a note of apology and agreed to keep it down.

But his method of notifying me really bothered me. Why did Greg have to act so bureaucratic when we had a friendly, collegial relationship. I thought about it for weeks, and then it struck me. Greg felt weak.

He was afraid to approach me directly, so he relied on rules, on legalese, rather than on our relationship.

The Under Use of Power

When we think of the misuse of power, our thoughts inevitably fly to the headline grabbers: the tyrants and bullies, schemers and scammers, or our first boss or sixth grade teacher.

Yet surprisingly, some of the biggest power problems stem from under use, not overuse of power.

Like Greg, not being comfortable with power, not identifying with one’s authority, whether it stems from a formal position, or an informal personal power, can cause just as much conflict and mayhem as does the overuse and abuse of power.

As John Adams said:

“It is weakness, rather than wickedness, which renders men unfit to be trusted with unlimited power.”

Immature Understanding of Power

The cliché, “I won’t be like my mother (or father)” holds especially true when it comes to power. We grow up in a context where power was used on us: by parents, siblings, on the playground, by teachers, and other adults. If we’re lucky, we were the beneficiaries of good, healthy uses of power. Chances are we weren’t entirely lucky.

A common response we develop is to blame power and to determine never to misuse it. But, here’s the thing: The more you hate it, the worse you’ll use it. You can’t enact authority simply by vowing “never to be like others.”

Hating power is the worst preparation you can have for occupying a position of authority.

The challenges I see in my coaching practice more often are the “Greg variety,” more often stem from avoiding using our authority, and trying to minimize our power footprint.

But these following behaviors wreak just as much havoc – albeit a different kind of havoc.

4 Misuses of Power

1) Avoiding Difficult Conversations

Trying to avoid one difficult conversation quickly spirals into a department wide mess.

  • A boss who refuses to deal with the conflict on her team, hoping it’ll just “work itself out,” is at risk of losing valuable team members.
  • Teachers who don’t take control of classroom dynamics let unsafe atmospheres detract from learning.
  • Team leaders who won’t intervene when someone dominates the meeting allow projects to degenerate into frustrating and pointless endeavors.
  • Parents who don’t set limits inadvertently teach their children that they’ll always get their way in relationships, and never develop the self-discipline and frustration tolerance necessary to work towards goals.  

Maybe we’re afraid of conflict, or just want to side step the awkwardness, but if things aren’t already ‘working themselves out,’ chances are they will just get worse without some kind of intervention.

2)  Not Making the Tough Call

Discussion airs issues and is good for creative problem solving, and an egalitarian atmosphere is critical for open discussion. But at some point, decisions have to be made. Too much discussion inevitably plunges a group into conflict. If a leader is vague, uncertain, or hesitant to make decisions, it creates chaos, confusion and conflict for others.

People don’t know what to do, outcomes are uncertain, work is often done for naught. And in the leadership void created by uncertainty, people jump in and fight for the reins.

The group can spend a lot of time sorting through conflicts about direction and inevitably get mired in power struggles. When power is not directly inhabited, it doesn’t just disappear but seeps into the interactional field, and is contested there, without awareness and without facilitation.

It’s an extremely exhausting and taxing process for organizations.

3) Using Too Much Ammo

Feeling like you have too little power often leads to the opposite: using more firepower than the situation calls for. If you underestimate your own rank, and are convinced you’re the weaker party, you tend to increase your fire power.

You use too much ammo out of fear you’ll be defeated, or not getting your point across. Whenever we feel one-down, we use extra force. We don’t see that we come across as an aggressor, and then we interpret the other’s defensive response as proof that they are the aggressor.

We then increase our firepower yet again, and suddenly we’re in a runaway escalation of our own making.

4) Relying On rules

Like Greg, who wrote me the officious letter about noise, reaching for a rule before trying to address things through relationship can create rather than resolve conflict. It stems from feeling weak. Unable to represent our side without an ally, we cc the boss, HR, or others onto the email.

Or, we threaten indirectly, by sounding legal or referring to procedures.

But reaching for rules, guidelines, or procedures when things go awry, or as a way to influence someone, should be a last resort, not a first step.

Just because power can be used poorly, and often is used poorly, doesn’t mean we need to avoid it. We need power. We need strength to be direct, to have tough conversations, to take responsibility, to minimize conflict, and most importantly, as leaders, to develop those around us.

So, are you guilty of misusing power by not using it wisely? Or are you subject to this in your workplace, home, or recreational life? How can you improve your understand of power and use it more effectively as you lead others? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Julie Diamond

Julie Diamond is a Leadership Consultant, Coach, and Trainer
She specializes in Designing and Delivering Leadership Development Programs
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Blog | Skype: juliediamond8559

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5 Types of Leadership Style

Leadership

Articles of Faith: Leading in a Fallen World

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize

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This  Articles of Faith series investigates leadership lessons from the Bible.

Check in on Sundays for new and refreshing ways to understand how to be a better leader.
Interested in Contributing? Contact Us.
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When it comes to leadership, Christians are called to a different way to view it, understand it, and live it. The leadership model for Christians is Jesus Christ himself. But for many modern Christians, they are taking the world’s view and understanding of leadership and not the biblical view.

So what’s a Christian to do?

Eyes on the Prize

Rather than living a life “looking in the rear view mirror”, Christians should lead by example with their eyes fixed on the prize on the road ahead. They should live in the present and not in the past. Christians should show love in the reality of a fallen world where hope is craved and leadership comes through grace.

Otherwise, living in the past is like still living with an ex-relationship governing your thoughts. And that will only lead to somewhere unwelcome.

The key to leading is the present is to live in the present with hope for the future.

Being Of The World

The many recent battles facing the Christian faith today are showing how much Christians care about being seen as equals with the rest of the secular world in which they live. To these Christians, I say this: Fellow believers, we are fighting the wrong fight and focusing on the wrong relationships.

Why are we fighting for equality, when the scriptures tell us that won’t happen. We are, in many ways, perpetuating our own struggle.

Don’t be surprised if the world hates you...” 1 John 3:13 NIV

Pretending We Are Locals

We keep calling it the world that we are not a part of (foreigners & aliens) and yet we get up in arms when the same world we are not a part of does something that offends or alienates us…guys, it’s not our world remember!

That’s like being upset about who your ex-spouse is dating. Listen, if you’re upset about what your ex is doing, then you’re not over them!

Do not love the world or anything in the world.” 1 John 2:15 NIV

Coming Together

Instead of spending our time, energy, and effort on things that don’t belong to us; we should be focusing more intentionally on coming together and being the spiritual community and kingdom the bible talks about in both testaments.

But we are too busy looking for common ground outside the faith (where we are told it’s impossible) instead of building common ground inside the faith (where we are told it’s essential).  We are fighting for equality outside of our walls, when we don’t even have unity within them.

A kingdom divided shall not stand.” Matthew 12:25 NIV

Being Right on “Rights”

The ugly truth is this, the reason we fight some much for our “religious rights” is because we want all the privileges of the secular world while not playing by its rules….I have news for us..it’s not going to happen (the Bible is clear on that).

If you love the world the world would love you like you were it’s very own.”

So why do we need to let go and move on from these fights we are so deeply entrenched in?

  • First, we are already told that we won’t win this fight. The secular world will continue to progress in ways that are secular and there is nothing we can do to stop it.
  • Secondly, it is taking our focus away from what we really should be fighting for. As Christians we are in many ways fighting for rights in Sodom and Gomorrah when God is saying to us, “get out of there and don’t look back!”

Getting the Point

So what is my point? My point is this…

Many of us don’t realize that these things we are trying to fight for socially, politically,  and economically tell us (and God) where our hearts lie. What do we want to keep more…

  • Our tax breaks or our spiritual values?
  • Our relevance or righteousness?
  • Secular handouts or kingdom holiness?

If your ex-spouse knows that what they are doing still bothers you, then they also know that what they do can still hurt you. Why are we as the church constantly running after our “ex” only to keep being hurt time and time again? This is the time for all believers to re-evaluate our values and to recommit to our unity.

There is no need to keep running after our ex when we have already become a bride. Let’s stop trying to hold on to what we need to let go of, and let’s lead the church to grab hold of what we’ve been letting go of for so long…each other.

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Dr. Tommy Shavers

Dr. Tommy Shavers is President of Tommy Speak LLC. and Unus Solutions Inc.
His lenses are Teamwork, Leadership, and Communication
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On Leadership, Perspective and Toxic CEOs

6 Types of Toxic CEO's

 

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Creating Law and Order: Leading with Discipline

Discipline

Are you leading with discipline? Does this type of leader describe you?

  • You actually enjoy routine. In fact, if there is no structure, you create one. After all, routines promote efficiency, high productivity, and accuracy, right?
  • Starting a day without a schedule or knowing exactly what to do could potentially leave one aimless. That’s what makes it so difficult for you to work with or for someone who doesn’t create structure, for themselves or others.
  • Sure, there’s time for fun and breaks, you enjoy those too, as long as they fit into the overall scheme of things.

This outlook on your job and life can be attributed to your Discipline strength.

Your Barrier Labels

Discipline is definitely a good thing, especially when it’s self-imposed. Your bosses love that you get things done without supervision, your employees always know what’s expected and when, and your peers know they can count on you. Unfortunately, before people get to know you or your Strengths, you need to be aware of some of the labels people may tag you is a less than flattering light.

In an unsophisticated manner, Discipline can appear overbearing, mechanized, or unable to handle change. In short, a leader no one wants to come to or lean on.

A Sophisticated Leader

If you’ve ever been described using the barrier labels above, the good news is you have Discipline! That means, you have the ability to discipline yourself to become sophisticated; practicing the art of balance takes self-imposed structure, which you have plenty of.

The even better news? Once you have mastered your Discipline, you’ll be known and recognized as a great planner, highly productive and efficient, and extremely accurate. Nothing wrong with that is there?

As a sophisticated leader, your strategy for success is going to be knowing when things are too rigid, and when they aren’t rigid enough. In general, people don’t enjoy being micromanaged. However, they do like to know how to be successful, and some may even need a hint on how to get there.

By leveraging one or more of your other strengths, i.e. Relator, you will be able to adjust your style with the human factor in mind. Because some of your other strengths allow you to connect to your people, or see the bigger picture, you’ll be able to pull back on the Discipline in your leadership style when necessary, and create boundaries when and where they’re needed.

Leading those with Discipline

If you’re a leader with more “free slowing” strengths, like Adaptability, Futuristic, or Harmony, you may find there is some friction between you and your employee with Discipline. If they are constantly seeking structure, and you are unable to provide any, they may become frustrated.

Though they can create their own routine, there will be others on your team that need a little more guidance. If you, as a leader, don’t provide it, Discipline is going to notice. Chances are, there will be someone on the team under delivering, or delivering late, which affects the whole team. Even if it’s an indirect effect, Discipline will feel it more than most and quickly become dissatisfied with you as a leader, and their job as a whole.

Now, that doesn’t mean you need to try and be just like them. It just means you need to be aware and as consistent as possible. Make sure that everyone has deadlines, and they have the guidance and resources they need to produce. You’re already an apt leader, so no major adjustments should be necessary!

If you’re a leader with Discipline, how do you balance your need for structure with the strengths of others? Do you lead someone with Discipline? Do you find them to be reliable? Do they often ask you for deadlines, schedules etc.? How do you handle that on days you might find it “overbearing?”

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Alexsys "Lexy" Thompson HCS, SWP

Alexsys “Lexy” Thompson is Managing Partner at Fokal Fusion
She helps building Strong Leaders through Strong People Strategy
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Lessons From Argentine Reaction to World Cup Loss

Argentina Riots

VIDEO: Riots erupted in Argentina after World Cup loss.

High hopes and expectations gave way to defeat, shock, dejection and finally to pain, anger and destruction.

This was the 120-minute journey taken by Argentina’s national football team’s supporters who had gathered at a public square viewing area in Buenos Aires, to watch the final 2014 FIFA World Cup match between Argentina and Germany. Chaos erupted after Argentina lost to Germany.

Who publicly vents their frustration through riotous acts of violence and hooliganism because of a loss?

Success Today

Before we rush to condemn the fans’ behavior, it’s important to consider what may have led them to do what they did. In today’s world, success is highly overrated. We celebrate those who come first, conquer (however we define that), make it big, win awards and medals, achieve in one way or other. It’s all about positive feelings, positive emotions and positive labels.

On the other hand, we look down upon those who have suffered defeat, loss and humiliation. For them, it’s negative, negative, negative – feelings, emotions and labels. They’re not good enough, they’ve failed, lost, let themselves and us down.

So it’s shame, shame, shame!

Acting Out

And so for Argentina’s fans, theirs was not just a case of lawlessness. They were simply projecting on the outside what they were going through on the inside – their pain and disappointment. But, one may – nay, SHOULD – ask whether the fans could have displayed their feelings of loss differently.

After all, with no exception, we go through loss and defeat at different times in our lives.

  • Does that give us the license to take to the streets every time we lose and generally make other people’s lives miserable in the process? Especially when the loss is so intense, it’s palpable.
  • Or, do we have a choice as to how to respond to loss?

To quote a popular saying, we need to win with humility and lose with grace. But, what does it mean to lose with grace? In this post, I share a 3-step process that one can follow.

3-Steps to Winning With Humility and Losing With Grace

1) Accept That You Have Lost

Once you’ve lost, you’ve lost. You can’t wish the loss away. And you can’t turn back the clock, to translate the loss into a win. So, admit that you’ve lost. Allow yourself to come to terms with your loss and grieve if you must.

Argentina’s loss to Germany was boldly summed up by Joao Cuenca, who has an Argentine father and a Brazilian mother:

“This was a trauma. We were going to be able to leave singing songs in victory with the glory of the Cup. What happened is nothing short of a disaster.”

Ouch! The good news is that facing your loss and pain head on makes it much easier for the healing process to begin.

2) Learn All You Can

At one time or other, you will lose. It’s just a matter of time. And each loss has a lesson embedded in it.

  • Ask yourself what you can take away from the experience and make it work for you.
  • Don’t waste your loss.
  • The good news is that losing does not make you a loser.
  • It’s an experience, not a state.
  • So, make it your aim to learn all you can from any and every loss.
  • Drawing lessons can help you emerge a stronger, better person.
  • Apply those lessons to future pursuits, to improve your chances of succeeding then.

Internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, coach and author, John Maxwell says in his book Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn, that winning isn’t everything, but learning is. Don’t waste your experiences whether it’s a win or a loss. Learn from both.

3) Move On

Easier said than done, but you must. Don’t camp where you lost the game – for if you do, you’ll waste the chance to get ready for your next big opportunity. Guard against what Abraham Graham Bell, the late Scottish scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator warned about:

“When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”

You have to make the decision to keep moving through other open doors. You never know – your next win may be far greater than your last loss. As long as you’re alive, keep moving.

Leading Through Loss

Indeed, better days lie ahead if you accept your past losses, learn from them and move on to seize future opportunities. This lesson applies in sports, family, business, community and in life.

How do you currently deal with loss in your life? Does it make the situation better or worse? How could you respond to losses more effectively?

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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

——————–
Joyce Kaduki

Mrs. Joyce Kaduki is a Leadership Coach, Speaker & Trainer
She enjoys working with Individuals & Teams to help them Improve their Results
Email | LinkedIn | Web

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On Leadership, Growth and Doing it Anyway

Do It Anyway

Do you know that song by Martina McBride titled “Anyway?”  

In the very first verse of the song she says this:

You can spend your whole life building
Something from nothin’
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway”

On Life and Making Lemonade

My husband graduated from college and spent 6 years in the Air Force.  Then we settled down in my home town to raise our family and he went to work as an engineer for a large company.  We raised 3 boys.

I began a business. We invested and began preparing for the day that we could retire. We seemed to be on the right track as a couple and a family.

But despite our best laid plans, life brought us some lemons. Our lives changed in directions for which we had not planned:

  • We did not expect that my husband would lose his job after 15 yrs
  • I did not anticipate that my business would begin to lose money
  • We did not know that our son would cost us everything that we had worked for (at least as far as the things of the world are concerned.)

Lemons, Lemons, and More Lemons

Our youngest son became involved in drug and alcohol abuse.  He spent 4 years going to jail, hospitals, and rehab. There were about 3 years that I did not sleep through the night in anticipation of a phone call from the police. I was never sure if they would want us to pick him up or identify his body.

To say the least, these were very difficult years for our family!

The courts held us financially responsible for the crimes that our son committed while he was a minor child.

  • We paid fees, restitution and hospital bills
  • We paid for couple of rehabilitation periods
  • We suffered emotionally, mentally, and career-wise

Because of the time away from work for court and family rehab sessions, my husband’s work performance decreased. When it came time for layoffs at his workplace, he was on the list.  When he lost his job, we lost our ability to pay for our home. My business began to fail and our property investments no longer rented for enough to pay the mortgage.

…More Lemons

As a result, we lost 2 properties, our home, and my business. We continued to fight to save our son. My husband finally found a job in a different state and he relocated. I had to remain where I was to close my business, sell the properties, and be with my son who was not finished with school.

On Making That Lemonade

Over time, my son finally completed his GED and got a good job. It took all the worldly possessions that we had, but our son is alive, healthy, drug free, and working.

After 18 months I was able to join my husband in our new home. I had to start over. He had to start over. I won’t lie, it was the most difficult time of our marriage. We became stronger than ever as a couple by pulling together for the sake of our family.

Although we were financially ruined, I can say with all the confidence in the world this:

Losing your fortune is not that big a deal. After all, it is just money. You can get more of that.

There is no battle more worth fighting that the battle to save a child. There is no amount of money that could change my opinion on the financial, emotional, and family decisions that we made. In fact, I would do it all over again for what we gained.

Keep Trying. It’s Worth It All

Now it is time to start building again.

Did I hesitate to start over? 

Absolutely.

Did I fear the idea of losing again?

You better believe it.

Is it going to be painful and difficult?

You better believe that, too!

Did it stop me?

NO!

There is nothing more painful than the thought of losing a child. Losing “stuff,” well that was easy by comparison. Your true success lies in what you put your hope in.

So, what sort of life-altering challenges have you faced that you were able to overcome? How did that build your character, your family, your relationships, or your business? Are you facing something now and need encouragement? If so, please connect with me and I think I can offer some sound personal advice. I would love to help.

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Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today here.
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

———————–
Phyllis Rodriguez

Phyllis Rodriguez is a Producer at Insphere Insurance Solutions
She serves as an Associate Broker, Short Sale and REO Specialist
Email | LinkedIn | Facebook | Web | Personal | 520-220-4021

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