Powering the Leadership Spotlight

Wise leaders understand and obtaining power at many levels. While the opening statement may sound Machavellian and turn away, power is necessary to influence others to accomplish tasks that grow and improve the organization. Leaders set agendas. Without power, organizations deteriorate or cease to exist. Leaders do not work alone. If you want to lead you need to acquire and harness power.

Power focuses organizational energy. Think of power like a spot light. The leader focuses the light in the direction he wants the followers to go, illuminating the objective. Without a power source there is no light to focus, no objective to achieve.light-black-and-white-white-street-night-photography-266526-pxhere.com.jpg

In an organization leaders often have one or more power sources available to accomplish goals of the organization. The common power sources include, referent, expert, coercive, legitimate and reward. A short description of each and their uses follow.

Referent power is likability. A more common word, is charisma. This source of power may get you in the door, but rarely lasts long except with those who are weak.

Expert power stems from one’s ability to do well or have specialized knowledge. This provides power in two ways. The first is like the artillerymen of old who guarded the secrets of their craft so their skills would always be in demand by armies. The second yet potentially fleeting source is through the ability to teach others your skill or knowledge. When you share those secrets that have made you successful, you have the potential to create rivals and replacements. Alternatively, you could also develop collaborators who desire to achieve more than either of you could alone.

Legitimate, reward and coercive often go together but not always. Legitimate power is granted when awarded a leadership position within an organization. CEOs have legitimate power to run their cooperation. They also possesses the ability to dole out rewards such as pay raises, promotions and prime parking spaces. On the coercive side, is employment termination, demotions and selection of another’s pet project. Reward and coercive power does not solely rest with formal leaders. Sales reps can influence behavior by offering a better price or withholding the latest product based on previous purchasing decisions.

Power is a tool. If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem or opportunity looks like a nail. However the skilled carpenter with a small complement of tools is capable of building beautiful things. Between his experience and tools he can fashion wood into anything he can imagine. Take another person with a workshop full of tools and no skills. This person would have difficulty building a simple wooden box.

Leaders need to develop a full complement of power sources to influence others. They must learn how to obtain, develop and use each tool. As they practice they will find that the tool they used to accomplish a task with one piece of wood, will not work so well with another piece. One version of a tool may not be capable of completing every job much like using a framing hammer to drive a tack. A tack hammer is the better choice.

As leaders practice their leadership skills they increase the power options available. Using a variety of tools shape followers into quality employees, volunteers and future leaders. When they show those future leaders how to use the full spectrum of leadership powers, they prepare the organization for continued success well into the future as new leaders learn to adjust the focus and intensity of the organization’s spotlight.

Training Ethics or Ethical Training?

There are so many ways to approach ethics training that it is unethical to have people sit bored while training ethics. Instructors can conduct ethics training on three levels. ImageThe first is to demonstrate by training ethically. The next is to provide ethical training. The third is to identify organizational behaviors that require changing and provide training that will change that behavior. What follows is a short dissertation how trainer can accomplish each of these goals without having to speak above the din of snoring in the classroom.

 Within the realm of training ethically there are three sub-categories; civil liability, ensuring employees are fully prepared to complete their duties and using the time of trainees well. Every organization wants to avoid law suits. Training your employees to do the right things the right way for the right reason ensures tort avoidance better than the coverage from insurance. By training employees well to avoid liability, you create added value by developing better employees who do their jobs well. Trainers have a responsibility to ensure they train employees well and when you do, students’ time is wisely used. Everyone despises the torture known as Death by PowerPoint. The point of presentation software is to help make critical points powerfully. By showing everything you are going to say on the slide the importance of the points are lost. Be prepared to speak ideas, not the slides.

 The next major area of ethics training is training ethics. Teach organizational standards, orders, policies or other written documentation governing behavior in your organization. These rules establish expected behavior. Let students know what the maximum and minimum penalties as well as the typical penalty for violating norms. Often these topics are approached by reading each document verbatim. A better idea is to assign the reading to be completed before class, review the material in the form of questions and answers and then use stories as examples of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Facilitated classes are great opportunities to share ethical theory with students showing how their biases effect their focus of organizational standards.

 The next area is training to change behaviors. Repetition is required for this training to be successful, but do not teach the exact same class to the exact same audience time after time. Both you and your students will become bored quickly. The point of this training is to focus student attention to behave in compliance with the organizational mission, principals, expectations and norms. Use this time to explain what the mission statement means to their section. Talk about how the organizational principals support the mission. Express your vision for the future of the organization. If you are training others, then you have been chosen to lead. Leaders have a better view of what lies ahead. Share your vantage point with others so they understand the importance of doing the right things the right way.

 As you develop training for each of these areas, you will soon find you have far more material to cover than the time available. Newer trainers will curse and try to squeeze everything into the allotted time. Experienced trainers recognize the opportunity to provide follow up training without repeating previous classes improving student attention and retention in subsequent classes. Focus on the three areas, ethically train, train ethics and change behavior. When you do, your students will clamor for more.