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When Does Power Fit Into Leadership?

when does power fit into leadership
For some people, the concepts of power and leadership are one and the same.  While there is definitely some overlap between having power and being a leader, there are a number of differences. Skills and leadership competencies go a long way past just having power over your team or staff.

How You Use Power

The problem isn’t the power itself, but how you wield it with your people. If all you do is threaten staff whenever problems arise, reminding them that you are in charge of their personal fates, you will not get good work out of anyone. It’s impossible to respect someone who only uses their position to punish staff.

It’s the classic carrot or stick situation. Both can work, but the resulting attitudes will be very different depending on which option you chose. So instead of threatening to fire someone if a project doesn’t go well, offer a promotion if it succeeds. People will appreciate the use of power in this way rather than resent it.

Another one of the big problems with having power is the desire to have more. If your own personal ambition starts to influence your vision for the team, you won’t be making the best choices for anyone else but yourself. Your people will soon realize this and can be disillusioned about the directions their project is taking. Nobody wants to give their 110% when the only goal is to benefit someone else’s personal agenda.  

Leadership without Power

In some cases, you may be given a leadership role with a team of colleagues but not really have any power over them. Can it be done? Of course. As we’ve said, power itself is not how you get a team to follow you and to be productive. The next tip is about other leadership skills that are important besides having power.

Better Tactics that Power

The key to developing better leadership skills is to recognize that power itself isn’t a technique or a skill. It’s simply the nature of the position. Instead, focus on better ways to work with your team to motivate and encourage them. The skills that create better leaders include honesty, optimism, creativity, dedication, communication and a sense of humor. Just to name a few.

A good leader works with a team, and doesn’t only stand in the front to point directions. Use this wide mix of skills to stay involved with the process, and make it visible to everyone that you are working just as diligently as they are.

One last point is that you can really bring a team together if you hand out a little of your power to other people. Give certain responsibilities to others instead of holding it all to yourself. It builds trust and gives other a motivation to show you that they can handle the extra responsibility when given the chance.

So when does power fit into leadership? It’s always there but should never define how you operate as a leader.

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