From James C. Hunter’s book The Servant:
“[Power is] the ability to force or coerce someone to do your will, even if they would choose not to, because of your position or your might. Authority is about getting people to do what you want as a result of the influence you carry.”
Let’s look at a scenario: Imagine that you’ve been promoted to manager on your company’s sales team. How exciting! You now have 4 team members who report to you. Because of the grueling work you make these individuals to do, you’re hitting the highest sales numbers the company has seen in years. You’ve heard through the rumor mill that your employees are complaining about the long hours and high-pressure tasks, but that’s not your problem, right? They didn’t get promoted, so they must just be jealous. Your boss is thrilled and is looking at giving you a bonus. You find out two days later that three of your four reports have put in their 2-week notices. Needless to say, the bonus didn’t happen, and you’re being called into interrogatory meetings.
What went wrong here? The manager made it all about themselves. How they could profit, what they could achieve, and how they would look. With power, it’s about you. What you can gain and how you can feel.
Now let’s take at influence. What comes to mind? Social media? Highly-paid teens making millions? What about you? Consider this: as a leader, your unwritten title is influencer. Why?
With influence, it’s about others. How you can motivate them, persuade them, encourage them, all due to your behavior.
The moment you are given your own reports, it’s no longer all about you. As a leader, it’s your job to encourage these individuals, provide resources if needed, be ready to assist if called on. You must be an example. If done correctly, your employees will not only have your back, they will look forward to working with you each day because they know that you truly care for them and their well-being, not just what they can get you.
Your influence matters so much more than your power ever will.
Debi is a coach to high performers, leaders and business owners wanting to achieve more and grow beyond what they believe is possible. Known for her clarifying insight and a pragmatic approach, Debi brings her clients to the next step by asking the right questions during strategy development and supporting them during strategy implementation. With experience in management, recruitment and employee development for various industries, she has a wide scope of expertise and will confidently guide you towards a successful future in your career.
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