Often we think of leaders as powerful individuals. We see them speaking on other’s behalf and making decisions that impact large groups of people. We watch as they move others to action, providing resources and removing obstacles to accomplish a shared purpose. When the responsibility of leadership is coupled with formal positional authority, a leader’s influence is even greater. It’s hard to have the title of a “Manager” and not feel powerful. After all, managers have direct reports and often a system of rewards and punishments at their disposal to help shape desired behavior. Yet, truly powerful leaders do not hold on tightly to their power.
To be a powerful leader, give your power away to others.
How could this be so? It’s simple. When you keep the power under your control, you influence others with fear. When you give your power away, you influence others with respect and admiration. In essence, followers turn around and give the power right back to you, but in a deeper and more meaningful way. The masterful leader is always seeking ways to make others, particularly those on his/her team, more powerful. Think about your own team for a minute. Do you involve them in the decision-making process? How often do they choose their own work assignments? Is there someone who you could mentor and train in your expertise? There are many ways to give your power to others. Trust in the process of doing so and you will undoubtedly build your influence as a leader.