The Consequence of Power... and the impact on profits.
How leaders wield thier power has a direct impact on the bottom line - evey if they don't see it.
While all of us have been subject to working for or with someone who has allowed their own power to pollute their leadership style, rarely do we take the time to really focus on how that pollution is affecting profits. Company CEOs, Presidents, and senior hiring officials continue to promote and empower people based on their current sales, client base, or even their charisma than on their ability to maintain a balanced self-image, build trust with their subordinates, or their skill at using authority to encourage and inspire. Why? Because most companies only make important those things they can measure. Self- discipline, trust, loyalty, and commitment to professional values are often difficult to measure until it is too late. When leadership promotes or empowers individuals based only on their operational acumen and fails to take into account their ability to handle and use power appropriately, it is only a matter of time before the dysfunctional churn of toxic leadership begins to affect the bottom line.
Keltner offers a number of important examples and further explains how power, left unchecked and held by those who lack preparation and self-discipline, will in fact negatively affect the productivity of the organization.
“The consequences can be far-reaching. The abuse of power ultimately tarnishes the reputations of executives, undermining their opportunities for influence. It also creates stress and anxiety among their colleagues, diminishing rigor and creativity in the group and dragging down team members’ engagement and performance. In a recent poll of 800 managers and employees in 17 industries, about half the respondents who reported being treated rudely at work said they deliberately decreased their effort or lowered the quality of their work in response.”
In the coursework offered at Thinkenomics, we deal directly with the consequence of power and we take it a step further as well. We teach and offer that power can be intoxicating and insidious to a person’s good nature; we call this process the pathway to jackassery!
In all of our travels across the globe teaching the attributes of quality leadership, which all include discussions on power, we have come across thousands of people who have stories about someone they have worked for or with who allowed their power to destroy effective and productive relationships. They routinely ask what they can do to keep themselves from falling prey to the consequence of power as they move up the ladder of success (and power). Our approach parallels Keltner’s solution...it begins with healthy self-reflection.
While Keltner offers an increased self-awareness and development of Graciousness, Gratitude, and Generosity, in our course The Art of Leading Oneself , we offer the term ECHO. The process is simple: What ECHO are you leaving in the hearts and minds of those in your life, at work and at home, when you are not with them? As you leave home in the morning and you and your partner go off to different responsibilities during the day, what ECHO is in their mind when they think about you? For those with children, what ECHO have you left in the minds of your kids that they remember when they are not with you? At work, when you are away from the office, what ECHO have you left in the halls, offices, and conference rooms? Much of how we answer these questions will be found in how we use power. For those who want to build a life-path where power is controlled, disciplined, and used only to enrich and encourage others, then we offer the following ECHO to consider adopting into your own life:
Empathy: Understanding others based on their life story, not on your life story
Charity: Giving of one’s time and resources to others without being told to do so
Humility: Considering others better than yourself
Optimism: Finding a positive focus in the lives of others, even in the midst of adversity
While there are no guarantees in life, we do offer that the probability of having better relationships at home and at work can be greatly increased if one were to focus on and commit to building this type of ECHO in our lives. Not only is this an ECHO that will bring out a better version of you and those around you, but it will also serve as the guardian against becoming intoxicated by power.
So what do you think? What ECHO are you leaving in the hearts and minds of those around you? How has power affected your own life and what might you need to do to use power to build healthy organizational culture?