Working with Others to Succeed

The best use of authority and power is to use them to motivate team members and help them grow. Your authority gives you the right to work with people in ways that will enhance their contribution to the organization as a whole, while your power enlists their cooperation. As you help team members identify their own personal goals, you can demonstrate to them that increasing their productivity will enable them to move closer to their personal objectives.

Authority and power work best when you establish a personal relationship with team members. A personal relationship allows you to know and understand team member goals and interests, abilities, and dreams. You can never order people to grow, to become more productive, or to change attitudes – and some people have no interest in improving themselves. Your authority, however, gives you the right to discuss these issues with them.

The dynamic qualities you develop through the judicious use of authority and power attracts the interest of your team members; they listen to what you suggest and follow your leadership. The ultimate goal of sharing power with team members is to move toward empowerment – that is, delegating power and authority to team members.

Team members are influenced not only by your authority and power, but also by the informal power exercised by individuals in the organization who might be called “informal leaders.” Sometimes these leaders command the respect of co-workers by virtue of seniority; sometimes the recognized superiority of their personal productivity attracts others to them. Alternatively, it may be a magnetic personality that serves to single out a group leader. Know who the informal group leaders are in your part of the organization. Analyze their talents and the qualities that have propelled them to the forefront. Build a positive relationship with them, based on confidence in their ability and the development of mutual respect. They will help you manage the department smoothly and efficiently.

Informal group leaders are often excellent prospects for future advancement. Delegate additional responsibility to them, train them, and reward their success. When you can delegate the power and authority to them to do your job, you are available for promotion. Some informal leaders are not interested in organizational advancement; they can be useful right where they are. Ask for their opinions about subjects that affect the general work situation. Share some of your plans and goals; help them understand how these goals will be good for the entire team. When the time comes to present some new goal to all team members, these informal leaders will support you, and their support makes it easy to persuade team members to follow your lead.

On the other hand, the influence of informal group leaders can be both negative and destructive. Try to discover the reason for their dissatisfaction and hostility. Maybe they are underemployed or in the wrong job; perhaps they feel that their achievements have been overlooked or improperly rewarded. If, through motivation, training, or coaching, you can salvage these leaders, they will add to the effectiveness of your department. Your interest in them and willingness to help them may combine to make them your loyal supporters, and their influence can become a positive force among your team. If, however, you cannot effect any change in the attitudes of such people, you may simply have to dismiss them before they make further negative inroads on general morale. When it becomes necessary to use your authority, you must do it fairly and firmly.

Certainly, autocratic leadership gets things done more quickly, largely because it allows neither time nor opportunity for discussion. But because dictatorial leadership styles do nothing to enhance the power of the leader or develop the potential of the team member, they are best used in situations where other techniques have failed to produce results. And, at various times, further compromise is impossible. If these conditions exist, effective leaders who have developed appropriate use of authority and power should have little difficulty in “pushing the envelope” in order to obtain needed compliance with directives.

Once you establish a relationship of trust with your team members, you enjoy the increased power of their respect – not merely an increased measure of respect, but increased power as well. When you help team members to grow and improve, and when you show interest in their achievements, your enhanced authority and power give you the ability to build a team spirit that carries your part of the organization over, around, or through all sorts of obstacles.



Leadership Management® International
Reprinted with permission
Strategic Essentials is a Managing Partner for Leadership Management® International, Inc.

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