Developing Next-Level Leadership Power
Inner strength generates charisma (from the Greek word for “gift”). Give yourself the gift of less stress and greater internal “go.”
- By Robert Pater
- Sep 01, 2008
Leadership:Making positive change happen.Working with
and through others. Seeing and heading off snags to improvement
at the earliest levels.Maintaining focus in times
of distraction and turmoil.
How can you further develop these attributes?
While I could write a book on this (and already
have), there are some standout keys to developing
make-it-happen leadership power.
Start by understanding leadership begins first
with yourself, secondarily with others. There’s an
old martial arts expression: “Strong inside, weak
outside; Strong outside, weak inside.” It’s difficult to
effectively split your attention. If main focus is on
projecting an image of omnipotence and omniscience,
there’s less energy available to nurture internal
strength. The implication is to concern yourself
more with your relationship with your own
clearsightedness, motivation, stress control, and decision-
making, less on the image you want others
to see. If you can’t truly motivate yourself, how can
you inspire others? Inner strength generates charisma
(from the Greek word for “gift”). Give yourself the gift of less
stress and greater internal “go.”
Best leaders develop concentric skillsets. First, they grow their
internal relationship.Next, they boost their abilities to influence
others—motivating positively leading to self-motivation; drawing
out and matching strengths to new project requirements; turning
conflict into excitement and creativity; uprooting resistance. Third,
they elevate change mastery—reacting calmly and successfully to
surprising events; planning needed change; then implementing
new systems and methods with minimal pushback.
Other keys to next-level leadership power:
Reverse Spider-Man. Have you seen Spider-Man® movies
where the hero’s reminded, “With great power comes great responsibility”?
Strong leaders understand this in reverse. They
know when they take great responsibility for their actions, they’ve
entered the realm of great power, even when unexpected events or
“crazy” people block the way.
When you’re able to see your contributing part to every outcome,
you now have the potential to adjust and redirect events in
previously unthought-of directions.When others don’t understand,
look at your own communications first (not their orneriness
or lack of smarts). If plans peter out, focus first on what you might
do differently and how you can breathe new life into them, rather
than blaming others’ disinterest or lack of vision.
Connect yourself. Extend your antennae. Perceive others’mood
and morale. Is the “quiet” on the floor the tense, held-breath kind
or a comfortable silence where others don’t feel the need to talk just
to get attention? What are workers’, managers’, and Executives’ personal
interests and fears? Do people trust you enough to offer lessthan-
flattering feedback? This may not feel great at the time but is
often what others are thinking or saying behind your back—and
information you can use to improve next time.And do you actively
elicit negative concerns, rather than either avoiding or just passively
waiting for them to get through obstacles to come your way?
Employ the Proximity Principle. Physics’Gravitational
Law states the closer two objects are, the
greater the force they exert on each other.Whether
applied to presenting, influencing or safer lifting,
distance reduces power (and risks acting overextended).
Make proximity work for you in all communications.
Employ closest interactions when you
really want to get something done. For example,
face-to-face discussions—individual or group—
have most power-potential, followed by phone, personal
e-mail, and then broadcast messages or posted
notices. Prefer video conference to telephone discussion.
Strongest leaders know that, while meetings are
more upfront expensive than remote call-ins, the
former are irreplaceable for strategically aligning
staff toward common objectives.
Be it, don’t just wear it.What you truly believe
and are committed to leaks out loudly, no matter what messages you
wish to transmit. People sense authentic consistency (at very least in
the background). Before asking others to accept new strategies, be
sure to first work them out in your own mind—perceived negatives,
options, strengths. Identify (privately at first, if you wish) your own
passions and underlying commitments. Remind yourself of these
regularly—most essential in today’s world of mixed agendas.
Develop a culture of alertness. Rather than expecting hypervigilance
in a way that can’t be realistically sustained, emphasize curiosity,
awareness, and skills for directing attention.Attention is a
critical component in leadership, communications, sports, and
safety. Always begin with yourself. Practice shifting between background
and foreground attention.Monitor externally (morale,
workflow, use of equipment, customers’ satisfaction) and internally
(personal direction, health, weak areas). Strengthen your ability to
command all the “S’s”—Scanning, Selecting, Switching, Sustaining,
Seeing ahead, Surrounding, Sensing in, Self-monitoring.
A SmartMoney magazine article defined Power as “the ability to
change the future.” By developing your leadership skills to the next
level, you can simultaneously realize the power to catalyze great improvements
on a scope that might surprise even you.
This article originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.