In a recent leadership seminar we had an exciting discussion. I stated my opinion that power changes people. This caused quite a debate about what that means exactly and whether it is necessarily always the case. A participant quoted from Dacher Keltner’s book The Power Paradox. I was intrigued, bought myself a copy and read it all in one go. Most exciting!
The reality is that when people become more powerful or have the feeling they are powerful, as studies have shown, they talk more, interrupt others more, take on more things, and make more decisions alone. Yes, and sometimes we also misuse our power whereby we make rules and laws in a way that benefits ourselves the most.
So, are all people with power essentially assholes? Are these behavioral tendencies valid for every single individual? No, surely not, but the research speaks for itself. And thus I indeed recognized quite a lot of myself in the book. Of course, there are also people who go on to use their power with great enthusiasm. Some people may not like this. But a leader’s job is to lead!
This all fits quite naturally into my lion podcast “Leading Like a Lion”. Because the pride leader – as many of you may already know – does not actually hunt himself. That is the task of the fitter, faster and more agile lionesses. They can better follow the zigzagging of the antelope and are thus the better hunters. The lion lets go and focuses on those tasks that are truly important to him.
In companies, staff are employed to conduct daily operations. At first using their head to find solutions, then using hands and feet to implement these solutions. From one of my seminar participants I know that he also tends to have a high proportion of speech in his dialogues and likes to give solutions. Why? Because he – of course with the best intentions for the company – would like to reach the goal as fast as possible. I met him again last week at a conference and he proudly presented me with a clever way of taming himself. His aim? When in dialogue with employees he keeps the talking ratio at 50:50. In addition, the employees should offer their own solutions. This is what we had discussed and trained in depth during the seminar.
This smart leader first discussed both these goals with his employees. They liked the idea, as they enjoyed being creative and contributing to the solution. Then the leader wrote a table display and set it on his desk. Check out the photo of it above. Simply genius!
New habits are not quite so easy. But, if you want them and if you remind yourself regularly, then you are guaranteed to make gradual yet significant progress! If you want to learn more about new habits, you can listen to my podcast “Disciplined Implementation and New Habits” (episode 11 – only available in German so far).
An executive told me yesterday that following one of my letting go keynote speeches a few months back, he had handed over a number of projects, significantly reduced his travel to branch offices, and step by step delegated dealing with suppliers to his employees. This process did experience some errors, but that is always the case it is in the beginning. When someone does something for the first time there will always be mistakes. The critical part is not to leave the employees alone and instead to constantly support them. In reviews you as leader can strengthen your employees, so that they are on the right path and that you as their leader support them in their own solution finding. Ideally with only 50% talking by you and the main part or complete part of the solutions from your employees.
Have a think about what you could delegate to your employees this week! And then – with the time you are gaining – you can hunt like a lion and deal with a vital leadership issue that you have been neglecting.
Your Markus Jotzo