It’s widely recognised that the most effective leaders and the best managers are those who consider and understand the impact of what they say and do, on other people.
Who hasn’t been in a meeting where somebody senior has absolutely crushed someone else – often without even realising the effect that might have had on that person’s motivation and wellbeing? Many of us have had the “boss from hell” – the one that bullies or cajoles or frightens others into submission.
In my experience the best bosses are those who lead without taking power from others. They are the people who lead by example, who instil respect and loyalty, and who make others feel empowered to do their jobs well.
But power is not just about being a boss.
We wield power in all sorts of ways. It goes far beyond the notion of leadership, or the power that your job or position implies. Power can be acquired through our personal interactions with, and treatment of, other people.
Have you ever been impressed by a skilled receptionist managing a busy waiting room efficiently?
Or elderly grandparents reining in boisterous pre-teens?
Or the triage nurse in any accident and emergency hospital ward, dealing with people under stressful, volatile or even frightening circumstances.
And what about Girl Power? The Spice Girls exerted masses of influence over an entire generation of young girls in the 90’s – my niece spent her entire teenage allowance on posters!
There are lots of different ways of influencing events, others and outcomes, no matter who you are or what your role is. Often as not qualities like consideration, inclusivity, and empathy can be powerful – think about the quiet influence someone might have. The ability to make someone believe an idea was theirs rather than imposing a view. And what about times of crisis? The really influential are not always those we expect them to be.
Next time you are in a meeting, or a situation that requires you to participate, be mindful of your own power and that of those around you. Treat your power with respect. Think about the effects of what you say or do on your colleagues. And remember the simple dictum: treat others the way you’d like to be treated yourself.