Leader, for many, means power over others' actions, authority over the company's control, power of conversations and decisions, power over success. When people climb the ladder and gain power, they start using it more and more to influence the results they want. And then one day, if they are lucky, or if someone is enthusiastic enough to help them learn, they learn the paradox between leadership and power. Strength definitely affects results, but the effects are negative. Those who want to be successful leaders in the long run come to the conclusion that they actually have to choose between leadership and power, between management and results. A recent study by Leigh Plunkett Tost of the University of Washington, Harvard's Francesca Gino and Richard P. Larrick of Duke, takes a better look at the negative impact of power on success and leading teams. Their research discovered many negative effects of power, including two related levels below, taken directly from their research:
- Power leads individuals to control social interaction and engage in more depth to speak that inhibits input from others.
- Leadership perceives rational leaders and reduces team performance.
Basically, what they learned from their research is that leaders attempting to control the results of the situation, so as to affect production to make it less effective. In our efforts as leaders to succeed, we can easily find the wrong things. A team that listens all available ideas, communicates efficiently and works in collaboration with better solutions. As leaders use the state of power, we make a mess of the successful process. This does not mean we need to be a power hungry dictator with bad plans to prevent the team's efforts. It is often done with the best in plans. Normally we just want to help the team get a good solution and of course we have an idea of what this great solution should look like or we will probably not have the job as a leading team. The problem arises when we help too much by controlling the conversation, affecting us or not listening well enough to compete with ideas. We must remember that as a leader we see our ideas to have more power, more experience behind them and we are likely to be a manager because we are the boss. Most people jump on the cart quickly and leave the competitiveness and sometimes more effective solution. People are like being on the side of the left solution. So if we want to help the team, or even an individual, get the best solution, and we do not want to influence the process to prevent it from being destroyed, what do we do? Well, there are many ways to guide others without imposing our will. To start testing this:
- Ask questions that do not open you and do not transfer your preferences or ideas. Things like "what will help us to solve this problem effectively and prevent it from happening again?" "What if there was no limit for money or time, should we think of this differently?" "Who has thoughts that we have not heard yet about this topic?"
- Challenge them if they are settling for an easy faster or quicker than less than an optimal approach. Use questions like "have we considered all of our possible options here?" Or "who else could have some information or experience we need to make the best decision on this topic?" These interactions also rank us as someone who cares for the best solution and not the one we take on our own.
- Press the group to come up with great solutions or ideas and then support the ones they get rid of. If you stop editing your ideas in your own version of your ideas, just tell them that next time it does not matter what they think, you're going to do whatever you want. If that happens, rely on solving most of your problems yourself from now on.
As leaders, we have the power to help others become their best. We lose it when we want them to simply copy our best. We work hard to hire, train, train and develop people who can help our company get into the better future. Let them do it. Allow them to do it with all the energy and participation they can collect and understand that your leadership enables them to compete with them.