Leadership and the power imbalance


Power is about the potential to influence – so where does the balance of power lie in the relationship between leaders and their teams and why does it matter?
The measure of a man is what he does with power. –Plato

A topic which often comes up with my clients is power. Some feel that protective legislation puts the balance of power firmly with employees.

Others, through our sessions, come to see that the negative behaviours in their team have actually been as a result of their own misuse of power.

Richard, for instance, complained about one of his team who persistently kept information from him. He talked to another, trusted, member of his team and discovered that people were put off telling him things because of his reputation for reacting badly to anything he didn’t want to hear.

Once he saw that he was part of the problem, he was able to change his behaviour and get his team to open up more.
Good and Bad Uses of Power
As a leader you are in a unique position of being able to give rewards and punishment – potentially you have the power (even allowing for legislation designed to protect the rights of employees) to withdraw a person’s livelihood at a moment’s notice.

So the starting point in this relationship is an imbalance in favour of the leader – and it is the responsibility of the leader to ensure power is used correctly – for the benefit of you, your team and the business.

So how do you know when power is being used in a good or bad way?

If it’s being used in a negative way you see a leader using coercion – either expressly or implied; not working with their team but working in their own interests and not giving their team choices.

The best use of power is where it is completely unnoticeable. Your relationships and influence over your team are such that they want to work with you. And they ask you when they can see your involvement would be beneficial.

So how can you positively use your unique position of power to get the best out of your team?

A good starting point is to build solid relationships so that you can be as open as possible with each other – demonstrating trust and delegating effectively.

There is also a link to emotional intelligence – take note of what people are saying and doing in response to your words and actions to understand the impact they have.

And being a positive role model is the best way of demonstrating the behaviour you would like to see in others.

How have YOU managed the power balance with your team – I’d love to hear.

Until next time.


Author Bio

Allison Galbraith

Allison’s background is leading teams within large Financial Services organisations. She now specialises in finding more profit for companies by improving the efficiencies of their people, processes and communication. Her mission is to help business leaders and their teams work consistently at the top of their game. Never afraid to challenge the status quo, Allison’s greatest motivation is seeing organisations make change and get the success they deserve.

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