Today, let’s talk about how you brand your use of power and influence within your business and/or within your family.

To begin, you should know that, for many years, I have maintained that the use of power and influence is at least the skeletal definition of leadership. Many have suggested that somehow the “intention” or the “outcome” also has to be considered; but, personally, I believe that gives leadership a moral connotation that is more properly the responsibility of the individual using leadership rather than leadership itself. I guess that’s another way of saying that some people give leadership a bad name.

So, we’ve got these two elements of leadership: power and influence. Whether it’s your business or your family, your source of power comes from either your position or your personal characteristics. Your Position Power includes three power bases:

  1. Authority, which can lead to compliance;
  2. Reward, which can lead to compliance; and,
  3. Discipline, which can lead to resistance.

Your Personal Power also includes three power bases:

  1. Information, which can lead to commitment;
  2. Expertise, which can lead to commitment; and,
  3. Goodwill, which can lead to commitment.

Whether it’s your family or your business, if you have a tendency to rely almost exclusively on Position Power, you probably are using a command and control system that may be appropriate for making a decision during a crisis, but you could also be missing the mark on getting solid commitment and support by not using one or more of the Personal Power bases as a way of involving others in the execution of the decision.

What’s really crucial to how your particular use of power and influence is “branded” by your followers is not your words. It is your deeds. Whenever a leader tells me that s/he would rather be “respected than liked,” I start looking for the body bags. 

The use of personal/positional power and influence isn’t an “either … or” thing. It’s most often a “both.” For a real life example of how a generally recognized great leader used both personal and position power, read up on George Washington. During the American Revolution, he ordered deserters and mutineers hung and, on one occasion, he had the close friends of mutineers form the firing squad.

Still, George is recognized as the “Father of His Country.” That would have come from the way he also used information, expertise, and goodwill to support his use of authority, reward, and discipline. In this environment, if you are over concentrating on one rather than blending the two forms of power as appropriate, the bill will be in the mail when the crisis is over.

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