The Problem of Power

Power

Image of one of our grandsons.

The more powerful you are the more serious your expression. I call it the Rule of the Serious Face.

Powerful people don’t smile.

Some organizations coach top leaders not to smile. It’s true!

The “un” of powerful leaders:

  1. Unconnected.
  2. Unavailable.
  3. Unhelpful.
  4. Unfeeling.
  5. Unhappy. (Or at least, unsmiling.)

The higher you go in some organizations
the more “Un” you become.

Worst “Un”:

“Un” leaders, sadly, are unaligned with behaviors expected of others.

When mid-level and front-line employees behave like top brass, everyone wonders what’s bothering them. “What’s wrong with Bob, he hasn’t smiled all day?” “What’s bothering Brenda, she seems so guarded?”

Curing “un” leadership:

Behave like you expect others to behave. How simple is that?

This isn’t the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. This is the “I’m no better than you” Rule:

Do as you expect others to do.

If you expect others to smile, smile. How hard is that?

Stop telling; start modeling. Stop granting yourself exemptions.

Put your feet on the ground;
pull your nose out of the air.

OK, leadership is serious. Unguarded words, for example, may cause turmoil and tension. Serious expressions reflect position and power. You’re important. I get it.

Questions:

Could you:

  1. Amp up pleasantness and remain connected with problems?
  2. Move toward others rather than away?
  3. Express emotion without becoming emotional?

Try:

  1. Patting someone on the shoulder and smiling?
  2. Bringing snacks to the department on the first floor?
  3. Writing a thank you note?
  4. Having just a little fun?

Leaders who are full of themselves
don’t have room for others.

Organizations reflect their leaders. Unhappy leaders build unhappy organization.

Bonus material: “7 Powerful Ways to Enhance Your Power

What “Un” could be added to the “Un” of top leaders?

How can leaders remain human?

Join me on March 27 for a conversation with a leader who retained his humanity even as he rose to the top of Campbell Soup Co.

Conference call with Doug Conant