Powerful Al

Fun Times

Wedding receptions are amazing! The family and friends of the newly formed union celebrate and sing the praises of the couple. Open bars flow with unlimited party juice, guests get their choice of entree for dinner and dessert tables offer mountains of caloric malnutrition. Patrons dance and have fun, partially because of Jesus’ miracle mentioned above, but mostly because of the love of the bride and groom. Somewhere in the celebration, friends and family share stories about the husband and wife; how, where and under what circumstances they met.

Each story varies in its level of interest, emotional content, humor and OMG (GRAB THE MICROPHONE, NOW). In spite of what members of the audience may be thinking, each speaker believes that what they have to say somehow plays an essential role in the evening. Rambling occurs because they may forget or remember too clearly the intricate details of the stories they tell (exaggerations), but they do not forget how the bride or groom made them feel (not an exaggeration).

I attended Megan Young (now Jones) and Alan Jones’ wedding on New Year’s Eve and my key takeaway was that Alan made a lot of people feel special in his travels from Detroit to Mount Pleasant to Wisconsin to Kansas. There were so many, “I remember when…” stories.

If you had never met this guy and you crashed his wedding, you would want to introduce yourself, apologize and ask for his hand in friendship. In layman’s terms, one would probably refer to Alan as “The Man.” Writing those words pained me because I considered Alan to be my archrival at Central as it concerned our organizational goals and programming we provided for the campus.

I always knew that Alan held a degree of power that I did not possess during our time as roommates in college, but I wasn’t ready to admit that fact in my early twenties. Eventually, his contributions spoke for themselves when he was named Central Michigan’s Homecoming King in 2011. I had graduated by then, but I was proud of my boy and knew that he was the only person on that campus that deserved the honor.

Alan was powerful. He wasn’t a superhero or a dictator, but he got his way. Let’s talk about power and leadership momentarily.


In short, one might define power as the ability to make things happen.

This issue leaders usually have with power is not what needs to happen, but:

  • How will it happen?
  • Who is going to make it happen?
  • Why should they make it happen? – Imagine there is a gold star by this one.

The leader with power understands the How, Who and Why and utilizes the tools at his or her disposal to accomplish the what.

Let’s examine some of the tools or types of power from the framework of Alan Jones and why we should all strive to be like Al. From now until the end of this post you, the leader, are “The Al.” Al works for male or female, doesn’t it? Perfect!


I traveled to Kansas City, Kansas for work and called Alan to notify him of my presence in what might be the flattest place on earth. He replied, “Come visit me, good brother.” I facilitated my training session for the day and was off to Lawrence, Kansas. Upon arrival, we grabbed a couple of slices of pizza, followed by me accompanying Alan as he presented to possible future Resident Assistants. Due to Alan’s position as Complex Director for the University of Kansas, audience members were compelled to be attentive.

It would be safe to assume that the position an individual holds guarantees that the person is capable of fulfilling the obligations of that role, but you know, I know, we know that is not the case. Some bosses are completely incompetent.

So, The Al does not rely solely on positioning to influence their teams.


Alan excelled in the field of charisma, and if you want to be The Al; I suggest you put a few more eggs in this basket than others. To be The Al means you are a people person. Your personality announces itself before your mouth does. You have an energy that people can’t describe.

Charisma has everything to do with relatability and appealing to the other party’s wants and desires. The real Alan is relatable. He found ways to be in common with you. I can’t remember exactly where Alan and I met, but it was probably the Student Activity Center in the weight room. He thought he could lift with me, so he tried. Our friendship grew from there, a couple of years later he would be my roommate.


People defer to you when you know what you are doing. Using the example from Positional Power, Alan is the Complex Director, but if during his presentation, he got all of his facts wrong and caused students to miss the deadline for their application. Do you think those students would ask Alan for help with anything about student life again? Probably nothing important.

You don’t need a title to possess Expertise power, just the answers. If you have a track record of being right, you get deferred to by default.

Tip: If you want to be The Al and you don’t have the answer, have the person with the answer in the room with you. But in all actuality, the real Alan is the expert, as well.


An impactful Al must utilize Political Power. You are probably thinking Democratic and Republican, right? Kind of, but I am thinking smaller.

  • Give and take.
  • Delayed Gratification – Setting aside your immediate interests for your delayed greater interests, and that may mean compromising or sacrificing, but the plan is always to move forward.

For example, as mentioned, Alan and I are in different fraternities. Alan is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi, and I am a member of Alpha Phi Alpha. We are sworn by blood oath to hate each other. But Alan, Julius (also a Kappa) and I formed an alliance at Central that would benefit both organizations, Ice Kream Entertainment. Weird name right, but over the course of the next two years, we netted over $10,000 used for social and service-oriented programming on the campus of Central Michigan. We set aside our differences, and prospered. Pretty good for college kids. Almost a decade later, our wager is still paying off.


This type of power is fundamental to labor. You do something for me; I give something to you. You work 50 hours a week for me; I underpay you your market worth with no overtime because I know you need this money and if you don’t need it, somebody else does. The Al doesn’t use Rewards Power that way.

The Al goes above and beyond the minimum required compensation and utilizes real rewards to motivate their team to accomplish objectives.

The real Alan prefers bake goods for his Resident Assistants, a simple gesture that signifies that he cares about what they are doing for KU.


  1. the act of coercing; use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance

Coercive Power is a bi-product of a Positional Power, reserved only for those with direct control over their teams. Try to yell at somebody who you can’t hold accountable and let me know what the outcome is.

The Al only uses extreme force in emergency situations because this type of power will wear you out like a pair of old Jordans. Coercion causes stress not only for the receiver but also for the antagonist. Frequent use of intimidation symbolizes a lack of trust and respect. The team doesn’t feel valued because their ideas don’t feel important to the leader. They are simply a hammer, and the leader is the arm.

Have you ever worked for a leader like this? Wasn’t fun was it? So, why would you do it? Study after study shows that this type of leadership is only useful sparingly e.g. building is on fire, literally and figuratively and that’s about it.


Yes, I know occasionally a person needs a kick in the pants, but chances are the person knows they aren’t performing and I can almost guarantee there is a more compelling way to get the outcome that you are seeking from that person as The Al.

The real Alan likes to spend quality time with his Resident Assistants. He uses the time for listening and understanding their interest, goals and life. These conversations provide sustainable motivation, rather than, “Hey, idiot! Don’t you know how to follow directions?” Leading through fear yields immediate results but they are not sustainable.

My Toast

If you have met Alan Jones, you know my words are true. If you have not, I hope one day your paths cross because he is one of the most genuine human beings that walks this earth and is truly a motivational force in my life. He always kept me on my toes because of his progression, and I wanted to beat him. Some days I succeeded, some days I lost, other days we tied (Ice Kream Bowl), but nevertheless he helped to keep me motivated.

Alan, this is my toast to you and your beautiful wife, Megan! You helped me in life, brother. I’m proud of the person that you’ve become. May God bless your life and marriage until the end of time. If you need anything, let me know. I won’t be able to help, but I like to know what is going on with you.

Editor: Neeko L

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