The Paradox of Power: Part 1


power-16“You can’t tell employees everything,” explained a manager.  “You have to select information that persuades them to do what you need.  There are things I do not tell my people.”

Another manager disagreed, “I think you have to tell all—the good the bad the ugly.   Even if the information is harmful to my position, I get it out.  If employees are going to follow your lead, they have to trust you to tell it like it is.”

Psychology professor, Dacher Keltner, in his book The Power Paradox, quotes numerous studies to show that most (not all) organizational leaders gain power by giving away the tools of influence.

Leaders rise in power by being grateful, generous and collaborative with their employees.  Followers believe these leaders to be looking out for the good of the whole and they want to contribute.

Leaders who try to influence by concealing, manipulating and deceiving actually lose power.  Employees eventually band together and, with the strength of numbers, refuse to execute the leaders’ directives.

Many of us, no doubt at some time in our career, have worked for a certified jerk.  Hopefully, we have also experienced leaders who downplayed their personal achievements while being grateful and generous in recognizing the help of others.

When it comes to giving the “extra effort” on an important assignment, the collaborative and generous leader gets my vote.

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