How to Expand Power

When leaders control followers, followers lose power.

Control is a zero sum game until leaders use their power to expand the power of others.

people with energy don't need to be pushed

Two choices for the disempowered:

Disempowered people have two basic options: resist or go along. Resistance, in the form of complaining, is a disempowered person’s grasp for dignity and control. On the other hand, the choice to go along seldom energizes talented people.

When leaders take control they make it easier for others and harder for themselves. Resistance is far easier than ownership and responsibility. Going along is safe. 

Don’t expect exceptional energy from people who are just going along.

Expand your power:

Words are rudders. Conversations establish direction.

The most powerful act of leadership is providing focus to conversations. But keep in mind, conversations are two way – not one way – engagements. The more one person talks, the less power others feel.

Expand power by sharing control.

A client of mine recently gave power by letting go of control. Like most of us, he’s a control freak. Instead of telling people what to do, he focused the team’s conversation on a shared goal. I love the question he asked.

“With (insert challenge/problem) in mind, what keeps you up at night?” His question is human, compassionate, others-centric, open, and meaningful to organizational success.

He had intended to show up with a plan in place. Instead, he led a conversation that energized the team. They’re part of the plan because they are making the plan.

People with energy don’t need to be pushed.

Reality check:

Conversations take longer than monologues. But if time allows, forward-facing conversations energize talented teams. The idea of going slow to go fast comes to mind.

What is essential for leading conversations that give control, more than taking it?

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