Expertbase Mobile Menu
Hire Graham Y. , a brainy Business Trainer from Woking, United Kingdom | Expertbase
POPULAR

Leadership - Do You Use Or Abuse Power?

Quick Summary

How do you prefer to "control and influence" others?
Leadership
373
6 min
1149 Words
28.86 K
The dictionary defines power as "control and influence exercised over others". With positions of management, and leadership, comes power and it seems to sit more comfortably with some than others. It is increasingly recognised that organisations need good leaders if they are to go forward successfully. Their people will feel motivated, empowered and want to contribute. Leaders who are not using their power positively and abusing will act in a way which will be coercive and, in extremes, could be bullying.

This latter situation is one which appears to be on the increase and is creating further problems in the workplace such as stress. This article will look at what is "power" and how it can be used productively. We want to consider how leaders can become more confident in their positions and with their power and explore the benefits for all parties when they do.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Lord Acton

There are two elements of power in an organisational context - "position power" and "personal power". The leader has "position power" given from the organisation. This comes from the authority which the job role has to do things or make things happen. The "personal power" is about the degree of influence the individual has and is given by the followers. The two are interlinked to an extent. People will look to the leader’s "position power" and give them a degree of "personal power" based on how they perceive the leader might influence them. Equally, when organisations are looking to promote someone, the more aware ones will look to see how well individuals can seem to influence others around them - and give them some "position power".

Problems arise when people are put into roles where they have considerable "position power" but feel out of their depth and under-confident. What starts to happen is that they feel a need to cover their discomfort and they begin to do this by abusing the power they hold. Over my years of working with organisations, I have heard and seen so many examples of poor or inappropriate behaviour from various levels of management and leadership. This is despite the amount of training which many of these people have participated in! I wonder how many times you have been on the receiving end of such behaviour? More to the point, how many of you have been guilty of using them" Sometimes, these abuses of power are obvious:

* shouting, screaming even, at staff;
* threats being used;
* unreasonable demands;
* intimidating body language;
* being a time-stealer to staff;
* setting unreasonable levels of expectation, etc.

The list can go on beyond this - and could expand to include some less obvious behaviours. Why is it that so many previously reasonable people can start to behave so unreasonably? Experience suggests that one factor is that they are often merely carrying on a trend from their bosses! If there are not good role models, it can be difficult to behave correctly. However, this is something of an excuse. What is really going to be achieved with abuse of power? The daily reports of problems with bullying in the workplace, increasing stress-related problems in the workplace are clear indicators of that this is an on-going issue.

The consequences for the organisation, and the leaders, can be significant. There are probably issues with productivity and effectiveness, absenteeism (or just presenteeism!), and possibly staff retention is also a problem" If these things are happening, there as a potential for a vicious spiral - the manager feels under more pressure and passes this on with even more inappropriate use of their "position power".

The flip-side is to consider what can happen when the leader is able to use their power in a constructive manner. Why are they able to do this? Partly it is because they are comfortable with their "personal power" and adjust to the additional "position power". Maybe they have the right role models, or suitable training. They do recognise that they can get more from their people by supporting and encouraging rather than coercing!

Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts... perhaps the fear of a loss of power. John Steinbeck

For me, this quotation says a great deal about the two types of leader - the abusers of power are frequently out of their depth in their role. They fear losing their position and the likely loss of face, status and money. They do not feel that they can ask for help or support to improve the way they operate. Possibly, they believe it will be seen as a sign of weakness and so they aim to compensate with what they think is a show of strength.

Leaders have a right to ask things of their followers. There are many different ways they can go about this and there is no, one right way. At times a leader may need to be more directive and authoritative - at others more inclusive and supportive. Whatever the situation, the leader still operates from "position power" - and the good one, remains aware of their own "personal power".

When you are in a position of leadership, stop and think about how you behave with those you are leading. You will gain far more "personal power" by treating people with respect - and earn it in return. Accept that with your position comes responsibility. Regardless of how your bosses may treat you, or colleagues treat their people, it is no excuse for you to abuse your power. Remember, the most effective way to engage people and to get them to work with and for you is to treat them as they want to be treated!! Pay attention to your behaviours and notice if you have any tendencies to make unreasonable demands or revert to authority to get things done. How difficult is it to think about the other person first and then ask for what you want in the most appropriate way"

As a leader, you have a choice about whether you abuse or use the power you are given. Many who are abusing their power do not always realise that they are doing it, or why. The reason is usually that they are struggling in their role. If you find yourself slipping towards this, do something about it! Think about what is making you feel like this and identify what areas you want to improve or develop. Now go and find out how you can get the support or training you want and go and ask for it. Learn to be comfortable with your power, both "position" and "personal" and you will be pleasantly surprised what you can achieve as a leader!


This Article is authored / contributed by ▸ Graham Y. who travels from Woking, United Kingdom. Graham is available for Professional Training Gigs both Virtually/Online and Live In-Person. ▸ Enquire Now.

Comments

Your thoughts matter to others - more than you can imagine.

More Articles published by Graham

23 Free | Ad-Free | Full-Text Business Papers
Stress Management

Manage Stress And Mental Health To Improve Performance

Stress and mental health are not issues which managers should ignore. They cost the organisation money, both directly and indirectly.
50   |   2.77 K   |   6 min
Personal Dev.

Building Your Personal Resilience To Reduce Stress

A look at why developing greater resilience matters.
60   |   3.23 K   |   7 min
Sales (General)

Sales Success In Tough Time

It is not about having some new magic method for selling, it is about applying the things you have perhaps forgotten.
50   |   3.09 K   |   9 min
Sales (General)

Ask For More - You May Get More!!

If you are involved with sales, how do you feel when you hear phrases such as, "Can you do anything about your price" or, "You'll have to do better than ...
51   |   3.05 K   |   7 min
Change

Encouraging Successful Change

Two key dimensions to successful, and effective, change initiatives
50   |   4.93 K   |   10 min
Coaching

Coaching Or Mentoring - Does It Matter Which?

Some differences and grey areas where Coaching or Mentoring overlap
60   |   3.09 K   |   4 min
Leadership

Why Leadership Matters In Professional Practices

Too many organisations are "over-managed and under-led" to quote Warren Bennis. There is a difference between leadership and management.
50   |   3.61 K   |   7 min
Stress Management

Are It People Wimps?

Decent management communication and support, plus personal development for the people can combine to help prevent a lot of the issues which lead to pressure ...
56   |   3.08 K   |   6 min
Sales (General)

You May Be Taking The Wrong Approach To Selling!

Are you hitting or beating your sales target or quota? If not, are you blaming the market, the customers or your competition? If you are making your target ...
50   |   2.59 K   |   8 min
Success Building

Can Nlp Help Or Harm Your Business?

The simple answer to the above is, "both"! It depends on a number of things. Perhaps the first thing to explore is your reaction to seeing those three ...
50   |   4.76 K   |   15 min
Change

Implementing Change Successfully

A challenge for most managers is to initiate or implement change programmes - and lead people through them, whether in the way they work or what they do. In this, lies one of your major challenges...
50   |   4.36 K   |   10 min
Presentation Skills

Presentation Paranoia - Prevention And Cure

Have you had this feeling before? Rest assured you are not alone. You might be one of the many who would rate your fear of public speaking alongside or ...
50   |   14.59 K   |   17 min
Communication

Think Before You Speak!

How many times have you said something and realised that the person, or people, on the receiving end have not fully understood what you meant or headed ...
52   |   5.3 K   |   9 min
Success Building

Who Do You Talk To?

When you are a leader in a business you face a number of challenges at different levels. Ask yourself how much focus you put on to these...
50   |   4.43 K   |   7 min
Negotiation Skills, Techniques

Careful What You Cut!

Enhance your negotiation skills to keep afloat in tough times
50   |   2.89 K   |   9 min
Sales (General)

Is Your Sales Forecast Too Sunny?

How to improve the accuracy of your sales forecasts
50   |   3.34 K   |   9 min
Coaching

Coaching Can Get The Boss In Shape

Who tells the boss that they can improve their management or leadership? How do they look at themselves objectively and identify what areas they can improve and the benefits of doing so?
50   |   2.98 K   |   8 min
Sales (General)

Why Do You Need A Sales Process?

The benefits of having a defined sales process
50   |   5.49 K   |   8 min
Stress Management

When Will Organisations Really Take Stress Seriously?

Most organisations and many managers within them are probably aware of the costs and consequences of stress and stress related problems. They may have ...
50   |   2.74 K   |   7 min
Sales (General)

Be A Successful Sales Manager Not A Super Seller!

How many sales teams suffer because their sales manager is not doing their job at the right "level"? Sales figures suffer, sales people suffer and the ...
50   |   3.5 K   |   8 min
Personal Dev.

The Cost Of Stress - The Need To Monitor And Manage The Risks!

Not only are there a lot of potential risks arising from the spread of stress within an organisation, it costs a great deal of money!
50   |   3.95 K   |   10 min
Corporate Culture

Does Your Culture Support Or Sabotage Your Strategy?

When a company's culture is not right with what is needed for strategic success, the culture has to be changed as rapidly as can be managed!
50   |   3.68 K   |   8 min
Health and Fitness

You Think Absenteeism Is A Problem? Worry About Presenteeism!

It is estimated that about 60% of GBP 23bn in lost productivity in the UK is from presenteeism!
50   |   4.29 K   |   6 min

More 'Leadership' Articles

15 more Articles that may interest you, too...
John R. : A Crisis Of Commitment

A Crisis Of Commitment

Has it become “socially acceptable” that is, we have grown accustomed to people failing to do what they say and we let them off the hook?
738   |   50
Marie M. : Initiative

Initiative

Do the people in your organisation feel free to use their initiative or are they waiting to be told what to do?
4.53 K   |   50
Ajai S. : Leadership By Persuasion

Leadership By Persuasion

As a leader, your success depends upon your ability to get things done: up, down and across all lines. Today's organizations are politically complex and fluid, which blurs lines of formal authority. To survive and succeed, you must learn to persuade people: to convince them to take action on your behalf and under your direction, often without formal authority. Even when you do have formal authority, you may be hesitant to use it. Persuasion is widely perceived as a skill reserved for sales and negotiation. Now, it's an essential proficiency for all leaders.
3.95 K   |   60
John R. : The Biggest Crisis In The World

The Biggest Crisis In The World

The biggest crisis in the world today may not be what you thought it may be.
526   |   102
Francis N. : Credibility: The New Leadership Currency

Credibility: The New Leadership Currency

There are very few individuals or groups of individual in government, commercial or voluntary organisation that are called upon, chosen, or bestowed with the mantel of leadership. For these few individuals their every behaviour and discourse are always subject to open scrutiny, and we expect them to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the role that they are playing.
4.29 K   |   50
David P. : Speak Confidently And Persuasively

Speak Confidently And Persuasively

Make this year "The Year of You - The speaker!" by following these four strategies
1.12 K   |   55
John R. : Conscious Leadership: Taking Responsibility For Our Better Future

Conscious Leadership: Taking Responsibility For Our Better Future

Perhaps the time has come to look at the way we lead others in a more relevant-to-reality fashion?
3.44 K   |   50
Niladri R. : Improving The Quality Of Decision Making

Improving The Quality Of Decision Making

The effectiveness of a decision will significantly improve if a decision maker considers ''all variables'' impacting the decision.
835   |   52
Francis N. : Emotional Intelligence In Leadership

Emotional Intelligence In Leadership

Should leaders lead with emotion? Is there scope in a world that is fast losing its collective consciousness for emotional leadership?
3.58 K   |   50
Simerjeet S. : Mahatma Gandhi's Leadership Philosophy In The 21st Century

Mahatma Gandhi's Leadership Philosophy In The 21st Century

'You have to be the change that you want to see in the world' Mahatma Gandhi
23.79 K   |   111
Ajai S. : Office Politics: Survival Of The Savvy

Office Politics: Survival Of The Savvy

Politically competent leaders map the terrain and get people on their side by building a coalition and lead the coalition to achieve results
7.59 K   |   50
Francis N. : The Power Of The Leaders' Leadership Commitment

The Power Of The Leaders' Leadership Commitment

To help Leaders put into effect their duties, responsibility and promises to their people, it is essential that Leaders lead with the following 5 Leadership Characteristics...
4.12 K   |   53
Mubeena M. : Become A Leader Now

Become A Leader Now

Most people associate leadership with position titles, materialism, the number of subordinates and territories one controls, and someone who fits the elderly-grey hair-pot belly with decades-of-experience profile. Today I'm here to dispel this illusory definition.
2.97 K   |   50
David P. : How To Be A Charismatic Chairperson

How To Be A Charismatic Chairperson

In every workplace, on virtually any day, there will be one, six, ten, a hundred meetings and every one will be 'led' by someone. Whether that person sees themselves as 'chairing' the meeting or not, the other people do. And so every day throughout the world there are tens of thousands of people chairing meetings - it is perhaps the most common universal activity which occurs in workplaces in every part of the globe every working day.
1.24 K   |   51
John R. : The Director As Steward Of The Corporate Soul

The Director As Steward Of The Corporate Soul

People being asked to serve on boards these days are justifiably concerned with matters of liability, compliance, and takeovers. They can expect to spend much of their time on a variety of real nitty-gritty issues such as compensation, mergers, acquisitions, forecasts, performance, under-writings, legal opinions, and shareholder sentiments.
3.51 K   |   50
Back to top
373
Back to top