Speak Softly And Carry A Big Stick ….. Theodore Roosevelt

Leading, management, management philosophy

Leadership is known by many names – directorship, control, governorship, stewardship, hegemony, authoritativeness, influence, command, effectiveness, sway, and clout. Regardless of the many names, leadership is simply one person or persons influencing another person or persons. But why, why and how does a person influence another? What’s that magic trick? Upon two people coming together for dialogue, why does one of the people want to do what the other person says? The answer is within the power used by the leader. Leaders use Position Power, Reward  Power,  Coercive Power , Expert Power, and Referent Power to influence others to perform.

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Position Power is one way a manager influences subordinates to perform. Position Power is when a manager has authority and influence over employees because of the title alone. The title allows the manager the freedom to reward or punish subordinates with no penalties from the company. The phrase “do it because I’m your boss” is an example of Position Power.  Employees know full-well that if they don’t do what the boss says, discipline and penalties will follow.

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Reward Power is another way managers can influence others. Reward Power is when a manager gets compliance from others by rewarding them for the behavior. Managers, can reward others with tangible thing like money and promotions. A tangible example would be a manager saying to a subordinate,”if you achieve such-and-such result, I will promote you to the next level”. The subordinate wants the promotion so they work hard achieving the result. Hence, the manager has effectively influenced the behavior with a tangible reward. An intangible example would be a manager telling an employee “I really like how well you handle three different responsibilities simultaneously”.  The employee likes how they feel when the hard work is appreciated by the boss and continues to achieve the result. Hence, the manager has effectively influenced the employee to continue performing well with an intangible reward.

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Coercive Power is another way a manager can influence employees. Coercive Power is similar to Reward Power but with penalties instead of rewards. With Coercive Power, a manager removes or punishes an employee if a performance standard isn’t met. An example would be a manager telling an underperforming employee that if they didn’t improve performance, they could lose their job. The employee wants and needs the job, therefor they start performing according to standard.  In this way, a manager is using Coercive Power to influence performance.

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Another way to influence others is by using Expert Power. Expert Power is the ability to get someone to do what you want because they think you’re an expert on the subject. Employees believe a manager has high level of knowledge or a specialized set of skills that other employees or members of the organization do not possess. Because employees believe this, they will follow direction given by the manager. After all, the manager knows what they’re talking about because they’re an expert, right? Another example of Expert Power is when we talk to an I.T. person or tech person. On a phone call with a tech person, we don’t know what they look like and have never dealt with this individual before. In our minds however, we believe in their expertise to fix our issue and will happily follow their direction over the phone. Hence, the tech person is influencing our behavior with Expert Power.

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Finally, there’s Referent Power. Referent Power is less black-and-white than the other leadership powers because it’s earned with respect and respect can be earned in many ways. “We can gain Referent Power when others trust what we do and respect us for how we handle situations” (http://www.quickbase.com/blog/the-5-types-of-power-in-leadership).  The trust and respect happens when employees see how a manager handles difficult situations. They may watch the manager suffer through a difficult moment and emerge as positive and encouraging as ever. Trust and respect happens when employees watch what a manager does for the company. They might see the manager delivering above-standard results. The employees could also see how the manager defends the company in difficult times. Trust and respect also happens when employees see what a manager does for people. Employees could witness a manager helping a struggling employee or developing an employee to a higher position. Once the staff understands what the manager is about in an admirable way, the manager can greatly influence the employees work.

Leaders use Position Power, Reward power, Coercive power, Expert power, and Referent power to influence others to perform. Position Power uses authority to influence. Reward and Coercive Power uses consequences to influence. Expert Power uses skills to influence. Referent Power uses trust and respect to influence. Each is effective in its own way and each should be delivered by a manager in mixed doses except for Referent Power. The hardest to earn and most effective, Referent Power is permanent!

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Ambition Is Not A Vice Of Little People ….. Michel Eyquem De Montaigne

Leading, management, management philosophy

How does a manager or leader accomplish results? Can they flippantly say they want something and it magically happens? No manager or leader or boss that I know has ever had this type of power. There are different types of power (see “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick” in this blog) and a manager can achieve a degree of results by using the types of power but good managers use this element to add to the most effective type of power – Referent Power. The element I’m talking about is DRIVE. Referent Power is respect power and DRIVE enhances Referent Power. Managers need and use drive which means they are action-oriented and have a high desire for achievement.

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One aspect of Drive is to be action oriented. Action-orientation means having and using a sense of urgency to complete a task. Managers are the first ones to communicate a goal, start working on a goal, and have a public, systematic way to follow up with others and how the staff is contributing to the goal. Action-oriented managers lead from the front and want the staff to follow their example. The attention and efforts of the action-oriented manager are noticed by the staff. In this way the staff sees what the action-oriented manager is doing for the company which earns respect…..and contributes to Referent Power.

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Another element of Drive is to have a high desire for achievement. Having a high desire for achievement means managers want significant accomplishment and have high standards. Having a high desire for achievement means managers want the result to meet a goal perfectly, not halfway and not partially. Managers also want the work recognized as high quality and want bosses, peers, and subordinates to know how difficult the path was to success. Good managers want to be known as dedicated and serious about achieving results. The attention contributes to how others perceive what the manager is doing for the company and enhances Referent Power.

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Good managers need and use drive which means they are action-oriented and have a high desire for achievement. Action-orientation includes initiative and example-setting. Having a high desire for achievement means perfection and dedication. Drive is therefore a large part of Referent Power and what good managers need to have in order to influence others work.

 

Everyone Is Guilty Of All The Good They Did Not Do ….. Voltaire

Leading, management

There are leaders who yell often and have poor emotional control. There are leaders who threaten consequences and intimidate often. There are leaders who are just there and really do nothing at all. There are also leaders who inspire others to perform work. More frequently however, managers like to focus on what’s wrong and vocalize the issues publicly with intimidation. Managers feel justified and effective because in their mind, “they’re taking care of business”.

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Frequently, when managers are “taking care of business”, the feedback includes heavy doses of guilt. It’s like the football coach during a game berating a player who screwed up his assignment. As the player runs to the sideline, he’s greeted by an emotional and abusive coach who’s yelling so hard his veins are popping out of his neck. Managers yell like this as well but are they attempting to correct and influence work or just selfishly expressing their feelings?

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Managers who yell and berate staff are only minimally effective. It’s a short-term management behavior. I call it short-term because it delivers short-term results.  Employees perform work behaviors because they’re threatened and do it to avoid consequences. Eventually however, they will quit and leave the threatening environment causing the manager to constantly battle turnover and new training costs. Managers like this create hard feelings, increase costs, and eventually drive away revenue because customers can feel the tension.

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Inspiration is defined as “something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create: a force or influence that inspires someone” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/inspiration).  The “something” that makes others want to perform looks like the following characteristics:

  • Employees who observe a manager handle situation after situation with the same effort, resolve, and strategy that’s respectful and effective inspires others.
  • Showing your staff how much you care about results and about people in a positive and respectful manner can be inspiring.
  • Know the job. Employees watching a leader ply their trade effectively and seeing great results can be inspiring.
  • Be challenging. Challenging your staff can be fun but also lets your team know you believe in them and what they can achieve.
  • “Make people feel good about themselves. People will rarely remember what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.  Start noticing what you like about others and tell them.  Go out of your way to personally acknowledge and complement the people who have gone out of their way to excel.” (http://www.marcandangel.com/2012/02/13/18-ways-to-inspire-everyone-around-you/).
  • Share stories. Talk about lessons learned, both positive and negative, so the team can relate to what you’re saying. It demonstrates vulnerability which is admired and inspirational to your staff.
  • Share an inspiring vision. Communicating what effective behaviors and results can look like with detail to your staff, and allowing them to see the vision is inspirational.
  • Thanking your staff and letting them know how much you appreciate their effort is inspiring.

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Inspirational leaders are few and far between and hard to see because they operate behind the scenes and let the staff stay out-front and get credit for everything right.  You won’t hear inspirational leaders berating staff in public. You may hear them encouraging staff in public and you will definitely feel an environmental difference since employees are wanting and looking for ways to perform the job and take care of business.