A person with a title without power is not a leader. They are simply a book with a beautiful cover and blank pages. Real leadership is vision and influence, which ultimately leads to respect. Too often leaders think that their position alone will motivate their workforce to go to battle for them when in actuality they are influencing their workforce to do the opposite. The same team that welcomes you with open arms on your first day will be the ones that slam the door behind you on your last day with hopes of it hitting you.
So, what can you do to ensure that you are a leader of substance? How does a leader gain respect from the people they lead? You need to put some R-E-S-P-E-C on your name!
R – E – S – P – E – C
R – Rewards Power.
This is the ability to influence your team through gifts. Not just any gifts, but gifts that align with the receiver’s value system. Giving one of your employees who happens to be a vegan a gift card to a local chophouse would not motivate them, nor would they be thankful. It would probably demotivate your constituent because now they think you don’t care about them, their life or the lives animals that they love. #animallivesmatter
Great job Mr. Leader, you just deflated the motivational balloon of your best employee. The more the gift aligns with the receiver’s value system, the greater the motivational impact will be. Establish relationships with your team members, then do your research on their interests. Provide rewards based on those interest.
E – Expert Power.
People defer to you when they know you know what you are doing. It just makes sense that you would follow someone who is credible in the field that you want to achieve success. That credibility might not be enough to hold influence forever; however, it is a great place to start.
Mentors fall firmly into this category. As a mentee, you know that your mentor has walked the path you want to walk, so you listen and accept their recommendations and critiques.
Leaders only become experts through time and intentional effort. Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
S – Strings/Sides Power.
I would not go as far to say this person is a manipulator, but he/she could probably run for political office. The power of playing sides and pulling strings is impactful, and we all have done it. Dad didn’t give you the answer you want? Ask mom. You scratch my back, and I scratch yours, but we all know that this can get out of balance if unchecked.
This political machine of an influencer knows how to work the cards in their favor, and they can use it for the greatest good or take political office. Let’s hope they choose the good. Nobody likes to feel used or manipulated, so if you utilize this style of influence make sure the effort is coming from a place of integrity.
P – Positional Power.
Congratulations, you got the promotion! Nobody cares!
Your title does offer you legitimate power as it concerns interpreting and enforcing policies and procedures, but that is about it. Your position alone will not make anyone follow you as I alluded to in the opening. Think about the worst boss you’ve ever had. Did their title as lead, supervisor or manager make you work harder for them? I’m going to answer that for you and say no. What it probably did was demotivate you and made you less productive, and maybe even maliciously disobedient; or even worse, maliciously obedient!
An authentic leader knows that having a title may be a good start to becoming an influencer, but it is not enough. That new manager has to gain respect just like everybody else. They must utilize the other powers.
E – Engagement Power.
One of my fraternity brothers is the ultimate engager. He is a local celebrity, but not in a 40-year-old party promoter type of way, but in a he developed a lifelong bond with this random person in 5 minutes five years ago, and they haven’t seen him since, so they are extremely excited to see him now type of way.
The ability to build meaningful relationships arguably might be the greatest of these powers. Think about it; you like doing things for people you like. Relationships just make things easier whether they are professional or personal.
You might be one of those individuals who possesses the natural charisma to employ this type of power on a regular basis, or you might be like me and have to control your facial expressions when somebody shouts your name excitedly in public because you have never seen them before, or so you think. Either way, relationships are important, and you need to develop and maintain them to be successful.
C – Coercive Power.
Your way or the highway. If you want their opinion, you’ll give it to them. Just do it.
It’s hard to utilize this power without Positional Power because you would lack legitimate authority. If you do have the right, I still caution against using this type of power in any other situation other than an emergency (building on fire/organization on fire). The constant pressure burns people out. You’ve probably worked for a boss like this, so you know what I mean.
Are you finished, or are you done?
The long and short of it is the best leaders should try to utilize all of these types of influence when appropriate; however, if you do not have the official title, do not worry. You don’t need it to be a leader. Practice the other five types of powers. You will be stronger in some areas than others, so work on the skills that you think would be most beneficial, even if that means ignoring your weaknesses and making your strengths stronger. There is no right or wrong way to go about developing your skills other than trying to do too much. You cannot boil the ocean, so concentrate on one or two skills at a time. Master those and move on to the next. Remember to be a leader, you have to put some R – E – S – P – E – C on your name!