At the end of the day, executive leadership is about power.
The quality of an executive isn't defined by whether or not they take the time to get to walk their areas and get to know their employees personally. The quality of a leader also isn't defined by how motivational their speeches are or how shrewd their policies are or how fast they can deliver results.
Instead, the quality of an executive is defined by where they get their power and if they use the power that they hold to make decisions that benefit the entire realm that they are in charge of: employees, customers and shareholders.
There are two kinds of power: Power Over and Power With and Within.
"Power Over" leadership is:
How "Power Over" leadership plays out:
"Power With and Within" leadership is:
How "Power With and Within" leadership plays out:
There are two things to keep in mind about power as you go about your consulting and coaching.
First, you need to make sure you personally have made the shift from the "power over" to the "power with and within" approach.
One question I get asked all the time is, "How do you deliver results for a client when you no longer have positional authority?"
The answer is this - cultivate your personal power. Go within and find the source of power that is inside you. This shift in focus is what will equip you to deliver results via influence.
Second, no matter what solution you deliver for your clients, always keep your eye on how power is played out by your client and the organization he or she leads. For organizations to be both profitable and sustainable, they need to have leaders, especially at the top, whose source of influence is personal power rather than power over. Personal power is true leadership – the type of leadership that transcends ego and titles and allows individuals to lead from the soul. Leading by compliance doesn’t work in the long run. Control doesn’t empower anyone else.
We all need to become much more aware of the reality of power and how it is used in organizations. If organizations do not intentionally develop leaders who have greater personal power, the default position will be the power over model, which is the prevailing perspective of corporate America. And the power over model is costly to both the bottom line (employees who are less engaged are less productive and less likely to stay), and to the human soul.
Imagine a workplace filled with people who have personal power. Imagine the creative contribution and soul fulfillment. Isn’t that where would you would rather work?
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