Leadership Skills: The Science Behind Being Powerful in Any Team

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.”
~ Marianne Williamson

I’m more of a rant and less of a rave concerning most popular lore about teams, teamwork and team building. I still find team effectiveness in knowledge-based, i.e., professional, organizations to be hit or miss.

That explains my continued pursuit for individual strategies you can use to get your work done when you share responsibility.

Being Powerful in Any Team

Getting your work done when sharing responsibility demands attending to — consciously or unconsciously — the power dynamics in your situation, but then so does getting anything done with or through others.

Most of us don’t think about this rationally enough.

Most of us bemoan not having enough budget or money to buy results (or happiness), or, not having enough control over situations or people to drive results (or happiness).

Consequently, most of us don’t adequately recognize, develop and practice the single greatest source of power available to us.

Want to know what that is?

The distinguished economist Kenneth Boulding outlined three sources of power available to anyone (“The Three Faces of Power,” Sage Publications):

  • Authority, aka “threat” or “power over”
  • Economic, aka “exchange” or “power to” and
  • Integrative, aka, “love” or “power with”

These three sources of power don’t occur in an either/or fashion. Instead, they always occur in combination. Your success is a function of skilled proportion.

The most startling part of Boulding’s assessment (and the greatest access to new learning) is this: of the three sources of power, the two we most celebrate are clearly limited.

“Power over” is limited to one’s assigned (or ascribed) authority. “Power to” is limited to one’s budget or ability to convert assets to currency.

Only “power with” is unlimited. Integrative power is unlimited in its ability to mobilize, focus and energize people, groups, organizations, nations.

And all that’s required to tap into our own integrative power is our individual skill in formulating and conveying a compelling message about how our fate is — or can be — linked with someone else’s fate.

Get Started With This 5-Minute Stretch

Recall three recent situations in which you felt powerful. Now, reflect on the sources from which you drew your power and answer these questions:

  1. What was the mix of authority, exchange, and integrative power?
  2. What were the results?
  3. How might a different mix of power sources have fueled a different result?

Extra Stretch:
Applying authority and exchange power requires little thought, but uncovering and applying one’s integrative power can be challenging.

Your challenge: attempt to spend an entire meeting — or an entire day — relying only on integrative power. Note your difficulties — and your results.

Leaders and coaches: Get Christopher’s best team building and leadership strategies collected over two-plus decades of solving teamwork problems for smart people. Attend the acclaimed Creating Results-Based Teams workshop, or get this FREE Special Report while it lasts: The Five Flawless Steps to Building a Strong Executive Leadership Team.

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide.

Posted in Leadership on 12/02/2013 01:00 am
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