Some years back in my work life I came across an individual who for anonymity’s sake we will call Shib.
Shib was insecure and hankered for a leadership role as a way to get out of insecurity. At every opportunity he would showcase and ‘beat his drum’ about his past experience. He refused to accept that in the disruptive environment that the business was facing, experiential learning was ill suited to handle the situations being confronted.. More significantly the ‘All knowing, All doing’ defensive shield that had become his second nature prevented Shib from acknowledging that he might be lacking competences needed to engage with the situations. These two over time became a dangerous mix for an increasingly inauthentic and damaging behaviour with the guy resorting to his positional ‘Command and Control’ power more and more as the organisational performance nosedived.
What does use of positional power lead to? Like termite it starts to eat into the existing credibility and trust structure of an organisation which takes a long time to build. Once credibility starts getting lost, influence gets diminished and impact gets diluted.
The Shib Case study made me recall what Malcolm Forbes, the publisher of Forbes magazine, had once remarked:
“Those who enjoy responsibility usually get it, those who merely like exercising authority usually lose it”
In the increasingly uncertain and fast-changing business world of today, many of us may be falling into the ‘Shib trap’ of over- reliance on positional power without even realising it. We thus need to do a periodic dip-stick test to review our sphere of influence and efficacy of our impact. Should we notice operational zones exhibiting uncertain influence and impact, it could be time to take action.
So what could you do to enhance your influence and increase your impact?
- To create a coordinated effort, you and your team members need to be accountable to each other in terms of tasks, actions and time lines. Ask this question of yourself:
‘Are you willing to be accountable to your team members about your performance as you would like them to be about their performance?’
- Do you have a Learner mindset? Are you willing to discuss with your team the skills and behaviours you are developing for your own self? Are you willing to be vulnerable about yourself and your own need and efforts to improve yourself?
- Do you personally invest in others? When things go wrong, are you willing to take a deep breath, desist from fault-finding but rather say to the team, “I know how stressed you guys must be feeling at this juncture!”
- Are you willing to align ‘Who you are’ with what your team members perceive about you? To gain an insight into the extent of this alignment (or not), you may wish to see how many of these questions you answer as “YES”:
- When you give space to others, do they see you as passive?
- When you are compassionate, do your team mates see it as weakness?
- When you display energy, do others see you as being pushy?
- When you take a decision, do your team members see that as controlling?
Be willing to become vulnerable by asking your team members to tell you about what they perceive as your top three ‘bad’ areas. These could be aspects like Arrogance, Passive, Self-opinionated, Impulsive, Indecisive, Untrustworthy, Close minded, Impatience etc. In case they feel uncomfortable to tell you these on your face, it is okay to get this feedback anonymously.
Identify the top three negative characteristics that you embody in the eyes of team members and stakeholders. Then ask them these two questions for each of these characteristics.
- “What is that one thing I could do that would stop me showing up as arrogant ( or impatient, untrustworthy etc) ?”
- “What is that which I should stop doing that makes me show up as arrogant (or impatient, untrustworthy etc.) ?”