Leadership and the Power Factor

Barnaby Joyce is not the first politician or leader to be blindsided by the consequences that come with using power poorly.  It seems that for many years, peers, directs and the media would turn a blind eye to rank transgressions.

However, things are changing. Perhaps it has been the widespread exposure of phenomena such as abuse in our religious and many public institutions.  Perhaps it was the global financial crisis.  Perhaps we are simply becoming more educated.

Whatever the reason, the public’s intolerance for the misuse of power and call for change and accountability is growing louder.

Many leaders sense this and are growing nervous.  So what can organisations do to address the issue and support leaders to use their power more effectively?

A Leader’s Behaviour

Leaders and their default behaviours have the potential to dramatically influence the health and viability of their organisations.   One need only look to the US presidency to recognise the damage that can be wrought by a leader who has little insight into his triggers or the havoc that they wreak.

However, it is not only in Trump’s leadership that we see the issue writ large.  The nightly news builds a compelling case for why self-awareness is essential for anyone in a position of authority or influence.   The consequences for those who don’t understand it are growing.  The public expects leaders become accountable for their use of power grows.

The constructive or destructive behaviour that many leaders exhibit creates a powerful ripple effect.  Leaders set the tone for the organisational culture and rightly or wrongly direct reports tend to navigate around these moods.

Opening the Door To Feedback

It is crucial that leaders receive feedback on their use of power and how it is perceived by and impacts others.

Ironically the leadership environment is one in which feedback is extremely challenging.  Leadership and the power that comes with it, tends to create a vacuum.  Interestingly it is tempting to lean on the power that comes with our position as a way of avoiding situations that disturb or confront us – including feedback.

The stakes for those who lift their head above the parapet tend to be high, especially when leaders have a tendency for using the power they’ve inherited with the role, poorly.

Yet typically other people will be more aware of challenging aspects of your behaviour than you are.  This creates a tricky dynamic that gives rise to real dilemmas in the workplace.

  • How do employees draw attention to a behaviour that may well be a blindspot for you?
  • How can they gauge whether a behaviour is a blindspot or not?
  • What signals should leaders and those in positions of power send to let others know that sensitive and potentially troubling elements of their behaviour are discussable?

The Diamond Power Index

Of all leadership development instruments we know of, the Diamond Power Index® addresses the question of power and how leaders use their power more directly than any other instrument.  This tool deeply understands the way leadership as a role acts on the individual and takes a pro-active approach that supports leaders to use their power well.  It explores subtle yet vital dimensions of leadership such as how empowered leaders feel in the face of the pressures the role can bring.  At a practical level it offers feedback on whether leaders are seen as conflict competent or conflict averse, whether they are discreet or use information and the privileges that come with the role poorly.

Julie Diamond, the founder of the Diamond Power Index® will be in Australia.  We are delighted to be hosting in Canberra with the Australian Tax Office an event for anyone interested in learning more about this ground-breaking tool that takes discussions about leadership behaviours and their ripple effects to a whole new level.  If you are in Melbourne there will also be an event co-sponsored by the International Coach Federation and Organsiational Development Australia.  If you’re interested please get in touch with us and come along.

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