This conundrum begs two more questions: if a leader makes the common choice to develop their power and position, do their results suffer? What if they focus mainly on the product produced by their leadership efforts, does their reputation suffer? A leader’s role is filled with choices. The obvious mix of which would involve a balance. Some would affect the team they lead. Others would affect their own credibility. But, what if you had to pick just one? In leadership and all things, what you focus on follows you around and yet, as choices abound, this Monday Moment seeks to clarify the choice right for you, right now, and in the future.
Choosing to develop your power as a leader is not what you might think. While some would lean on their title and the ambitious pursuit of more impressive titles, the balance of power is shifting, making this concept a bit sticky. As seen on LinkedIn this week, Carole Zibi published a masterful post entitled The End of Power as We Know It. It’s poignant and timely in that it mentions Monica Lewinsky’s TED Talk. What she also clearly points out is that Monica may just have more power than the most highly requested former US President speaker: Bill Clinton. Why is this relevant? The acquisition, use, and maintenance of power has changed, big time.
No longer is power just about a leader’s title, nor their skills. Power is about influence. How one influences an audience, team, client base, single employee, or company is now much of what matters, if not, all that matters. Leaders who choose power must be cautious in that a focus solely on their own ascension in the ranks, their own development of their individual leadership skills, and their own perceived quality in the eyes of those who lead them, is not what will give their career momentum. Think about it. The dad and daughter who jam out in the kitchen have more power to influence your employees’ decisions right now than most managers exercise over their whole team. If you choose to focus on your power, the key is to make sure you know what that is, where it comes from, and with whom you actually have some.
Choosing to focus on the product of your leadership efforts might mean you watch employee results and outcomes with an eagle eye. This leadership choice might qualify as a blinding flash of the obvious. However, choosing to focus only on the outcomes encouraged, inspired, motivated, or derived indirectly from your efforts may leave you feeling replaceable. Moreover, the company culture in which a leader leads will influence the value placed on outcomes. Is your organization all about the numbers? If so, this is a choice that will reap rewards. Is your company making the shift from a process and product focus to one that is all about people? This is where you may scratch your head. Companies thriving in the market place are proving personal power produces better products. For example, Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles have only ONE that focuses on results. Google, the touted #1 company to work for, who has a surprisingly hard time keeping employees, spent a year on what’s called Project Oxygen. The results of this internal project were 8 behavioral traits their managers needed to embrace, all of which are focused, ironically on the development of the power of their employees, and only one of which even mentions results.
The leader’s choices between product or power is not always an either or scenario. Often, this choice is more about when to shift, what to focus on NOW and what to set aside for a better time. Much as a leader must both manage and lead, neither at the mutual exclusion of the other, a leader must also develop their power, the power of others and produce powerful outcomes. The reason for the choice is timing. The reason for the choice is also about distribution of resources and the law of diminishing returns. Steadfast focus on one over the other for extended periods will result in a loss in both. Simultaneous focus on both will reap smaller rewards in each. Thus, it is important for the leader to make a choice, multiple times.
In all areas of leadership, leaders are faced with choices and all their choices reflect the value they place on their own voice. Should you, as a leader, place a higher value on developing your own skills, influence, and position right now or should you focus more on the how of results and production achieved with and through others. Being known for both is ideal, but knowing when to make the shift and which one needs you the most right now, is real.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!