How power is obtained, used, misused, and maintained is very much a taboo topic at work.
In its simplest form, power is the ability to get things done, especially through other people. A powerful leader can “mobilize the troops” by employing either formal (positional) power or more informal (personal) power. Great leaders, of course, have both.
Being “power hungry” is perceived as a bad thing. However, wanting it to either effect needed change or maintain a healthy status quo is just good sense for anyone striving to be a successful leader. Without power, leaders are powerless to drive behavior and outcomes.
By now you may be wondering two things: (1) given the serious pros of shared leadership, why aren’t more leaders sharing? And (2) what happens when a staff member proves to be incapable of responsibly receiving authority?
Sharing power doesn’t come easy for many executives. It can feel like losing, and that’s scary (although they’d never admit it). Sharing has the potential (so they think) to put them not in control which is an unfortunate but very real interpretation.
Other leaders have the desire to share but lack the skill. They think they’re sharing, but they really aren’t. And so, they remain at the helm of most decisions, even ones that should clearly be in the domain of their subordinates.
Sometimes, and despite a leader’s best intentions and actions, an employee won’t meet the challenge of using the control they’re given well. However, with the right motivation, encouragement, and rewards a slow starter can be coached into taking initiative, becoming a more critical thinker, and accepting more accountability for outcomes. Employees who can’t be coached may have to be transferred into other, less, senior positions, or transitioned out of the organization.
Like anything else in the corporate world, what’s rewarded will be replicated. Employers who want to encourage power sharing within their organizations should focus on their managers’ abilities to get results via efficient delegation by
Keep in mind that sharing power comes more naturally to some than to others. Fortunately, behavioral assessments tools, like Omnia’s employee selection and retention reports, can help employers determine which potential and current team members are more likely to lead collaboratively. The reports can also be used to coach employees in the direction the company wants them to go.
As technology and globalism create more complicated work, savvy companies will adopt leadership models that depend on shared power, knowing that their highest-performing employees will insist on having autonomy and authority to do their jobs.