Influencing Others: The Art of Leadership

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    Power is Not a Bad Word

    © Copyright Marcia Zidle

    The concept of power often evokes negative impressions. For example, referring to the use of power can infer that people are being dominated, manipulated, or coerced. However, similar to the concept of conflict, power almost always exists in organizations. Recognizing and managing it can be very healthy for organizations and personnel. The following links provide overviews that progress from basic to a little more advanced.

    Think hard work is all you need for career success?

    Jeffrey Pfeffer, at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, disagrees. In his latest book, Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t, he argues that what you need to succeed in the workplace is, above all, power.

    He was asked in an interview with BNET “What is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to achieving power?”

    He answered: “I see a lot of people who voluntarily give up the opportunity to have a lot of power by saying things like, ‘I won’t play the game.’ That won’t get you anywhere.” Sources of Power

    As a coach of talent, part of my job is to help career starters and emerging leaders see that they have power no matter where they stand on the corporate ladder. It’s a matter of recognizing and capitalizing on it. There are two sources of power.

    Formal or Position Power

    This is based on your title – manager, supervisor, senior vice-president, etc. With it comes the ability and responsibility to reward (provide someone with a raise or plum assignment) and punish (discipline someone or limit access to resources). However, there’s another.

    Informal or Personal Power

    This is based not on your position, but on you. You have the ability to develop expert power (based on highly valued knowledge and skills) and associate power (based on who you know and who knows you).

    Which is easier to obtain?

    In most cases it’s personal power. Here are five ways to increase your informal power and not feel like you just playing the game. Take a look at these past posts.

    1. Know What’s Going On: Information is power so be on constant alert.
    2. Have Skills Will Travel: This is what you bring to the employment table.
    3. Develop a Strong Brand: It conveys your distinctiveness as a professional or leader.
    4. Enhance Your Reputation: Toot your horn occasionally and have others do it as well.
    5. Build Good Working Relationships: They are the bread of career life so eat often and hearty.

    Career Success Tip

    True power, to get things done, does not come from a title or position. Rather it comes from the value (your expert power) you produce for your internal and external customers. Figure out ways to make a positive impact (your associate power) on the key people in your career world. That’s how you build power careers.

    On a scale from 1 (low) to 10 (high) how much personal power do you have right now to achieve your career goals? What can you do to get it to a 10?

    Influencing and Persuading

    Do you have great ideas but can’t seem to get people to listen?

    A recent email from a frustrated manager who, like many of us, has great ideas but finds it difficult to get them accepted and implemented. Perhaps a boss is too busy putting out fires to pay attention. Or, in the give-and-take of a meeting, your suggestions get lost.

    In her years of writing about successful leaders, Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School, states that “getting ideas off the ground requires personal credibility and power.” Here’s what she advises — Four Influencing Strategies:

    1. Showing up: The power of presence.

    It’s a cliché but true that 90% of success in life comes from just showing up. Digital and other remote communications are efficient, but there’s much to be said for being there – face-to-face with others.

    2. Speaking up: The power of voice.

    It’s more than making noise. It’s being articulate, and putting your ideas into words that get people to listen and see you as a leader. If you’re uncomfortable with public speaking, get a coach, take lessons, join Toastmasters, and then stand up and do it.

    3. Teaming up: the power of partnering.

    As you move into leadership, your technical or business skills aren’t enough. Success, at this stage of your career, depends more on building good relationships inside and outside your organization. So start “playing with others”.

    4. Not giving up: the power of persistence.

    Everything can look like a failure in the middle. Keep at it, make mid-course adjustments, and surprise the naysayers. All successful people have dealt with self-doubt, but they keep on going. So can you.

    Career Success Tip

    There have been excellent big ideas that couldn’t get off the ground because they lacked proper uplift and effort. On the flip side, really good small ideas have revolutionized our lives. What’s the difference? Perhaps it’s these four influencing strategies. What do you think?

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