In this episode of Relationships at Work, communications and leadership nerd (and host) Russel Lolacher illustrates the importance of defining power and our pursuit of it in the workplace.
What is power? More importantly, what is power to US? Us, as individuals? As we move along our leadership journeys, it's important that we understand the path we want to follow and what our idea of success and power might look like. Russel will walk through multiple steps to consider to set us up for our own success.
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Welcome back to Relationships At Work – the leadership mindset guide for creating a workplace we love. I’m your host Russel Lolacher
I’m a communications and leadership nerd with a couple of decades of experience and a heap of curiosity on how we can make the workplace better. If you’re a leader trying to understand and improve your impact on work culture and the employee experience, you’re in the right place.
This mini-episode is a quick and valuable bit of information, under 10minutes, to help us reset our mindset for the week ahead.
What is TRUE power at work?
A while back, I had a great conversation on the show with author and leadership coach-mentor Dr. Stephen Barden about the pursuit of power at work, it's inspired me to think more about what "power" actually is. And how important it is to define it for ourselves in the pursuit of it.
Power can be..
· Positional - the type of power you have when you have a specific rank or title in an organization.
· Influential - the ability to change how someone else thinks or behaves based on trust and relationships.
· Autonomy - the freedom to work in a way that suits you. Freedom can be power.
· There are even rare instances where you can have all three.
It's essential that when we think about what we are truly pursuing power at work, what do we actually mean? What are we talking about? Which is the one we want for ourselves? How does it align with our values and motivations?
Curiosity as a leader is integral but it’s not just in being curious about others. It’s also in how and why we do things for ourselves. It’s part of our self-leadership too.
As a leader, what is our path to "happy"? Did I mention that part of this reflection should include how you define “happy”? Cause it’s different for all of us. What makes me happy may not make you happy.
So thinking further on the “what kind of power am I pursuing?” side of things, here's a few steps to consider when coming up with that answer:
1. Reflect on our Values: OUR values, not the organizations. OURS. IF they are the same, great. But that’s not always the case. But we have to know us before we know what success looks like.
2. Define Our Goals: What are we trying to achieve? What does success look like for ourselves? Absolutely define it within the context of yourself, your teams, and your organization.
3. Understand Different Types of Power: What is the type that resonates with us? Has meaning for us? I mentioned positional, influential, autonomy. We could have our own definition of power that looks differently. All good. Just identify it.
4. Identify Our Strengths: Knowing ourselves will help to determine what works for us and where we need to focus on to reach that particular power we want to achieve. Do your strengths align with the goals you’re trying to achieve?
5. Consider Your Leadership Style and Power Alignment: What if the power we want doesn’t align with the leadership style or styles we prefer? Maybe we learn new ones? Maybe we say, it’s not for me.
6. Assess Your Current Situation and Influence; This is a gap analysis. Where are we now. Where do we want to go. What’s the gap between that we need to overcome?
7. Seek Feedback: We’re not an island. And our self-awareness might only go so far. Ask colleagues and mentors for their thoughts.
8. Create a Personal Leadership Statement as a Guiding Principle: Always love a statement. This is a great motivational tool for self-leadership. A mantra. Look into creating your own vision statement as a north star.
9. Seek Development Opportunities: We’ve done the work to identify strengths and gaps. Now go look for the professional development that will help get us where we want to go.
REMINDER: Stay True to our Values: Not so much a step as a word to the wise. Don’t give up who we are, what makes us great, for that power. If we sacrifice values in that leadership journey, we’re not going to be the same person on the other side of it.
Remember, success in our work is a very personal thing. It's not defined by anyone else but ourselves.
So what does that mean when it comes to power.
For me, the most power I’ve ever felt were in roles where I had influence, autonomy, responsibility, and accountability. It wasn’t at the top of a hierarchy but rather in a job where I was trusted to do a job and left to do the job, in a very public way. That’s my jam. But it isn’t everyone’s.
And as leaders, it can always look different as it pertains to you. Factors like family, responsibilities, education, where we are in our lives, ambition… are all important to weigh in our understanding and pursuit of power.
First though, if I can recommend anything, we should work on that self-awareness. So we can figure out what we truly want, understand how to get there and adjust our leadership journeys to make sure we keep ourselves on the path we decide on.