A Word on Power…

Posted on July 23, 2013 by


The exercise of power is a reflection of the leader’s temperament, character, confidence and competence.  Failing to moderate the use of power can have negative consequences on the organization, particularly on the level of employee engagement.  As such, power and its use should be informed by two things…moderation and consideration.

Power informed by moderation means that it will never reflect extremes.  Instead it stays consistent and predictable.  Power that is erratic creates fear in those who follow.  Followers of erratic leaders don’t know where they stand with the leader and are often more concerned with avoiding the ire of the leader than with building the organization through innovation and customer satisfaction. Instead, they engage in self-preservation tactics that can and do often result in their peers becoming collateral damage.  Further, for those that survive each “leadership tantrum” or “leadership power trip”, there is a real sense of loss for those who did not and perceptions of lack of equity or organizational justice.  The end result tends to be disengaged, bitter workers who either quit while on the job or high turnover.

Power informed by consideration means that it is not exerted to establish dominance or supremacy; rather it recognizes its role in leadership.  In this sense, the leader is confident of his or her position and competency level.  Thus the leader is able to use a multitude of strategies to elicit organizational support and output.  In this case, power used is not based in “because I have the authority to do so”, instead it views followers as educated individuals capable of understanding the rationale behind decisions or actions when presented. While followers may not always agree with the decisions made, there is a level of respect for the leader that is bolstered by the belief that the leader is competent as perceived by the moderated use of power.