Probably one of the most common questions I hear from established and aspiring leaders and those eager to make big impacts is “how do I get more power?”. Now, this may seem like the kind of question that will earn more than a side-eye or skeptical look, but I’ve learned this question doesn’t come from a diabolical power hungry intent, but of an intention most of us have; to have more power to enact change or make a difference through the roles we serve.
Power to not only enact change in their organizations and roles, but more autonomy in their work that's driven by passion.
With the millennial and Gen Z generation are now rapidly entering the workforce, this question brings a different kind of consideration.
They are less committed to models of work-life that are stagnant and inflexible, pursue power, movement, and expression at much higher rates - and quicker. Gallup reports have shown that this generation is the least engaged, quicker to pursue new opportunities than previous generations, and don’t foresee futures with their current companies beyond a year. They have earned the well-deserved moniker “the job-hopping generation.”
But it is not just about restlessness or being non-committal; though the scrolling and swiping social culture has made this a norm, something deeper drives this; the need to BE and DO something more.
When we discuss power, the question I like to ask them is a simple one - why?
Why do you want POWER? What does power mean, and what do you plan to do with it when you have it?
I ask these questions because the divergent path of power leads us down two roads. One road is a power predicated on control - more specifically, control for the sake of being the one in charge, the authority. This desire tends to feed the ego. The other path is the deep-seated drive to tap into the inherent human need to create and express and not just produce - but that position requires a certain amount of power. This desire is rooted in purpose.
To attain more power, you have to become a leader, and we can view leadership in three ways:
Formal leaders are officially recognized through their title and status. They have responsibility, are decision-makers, and commonly rise through the ranks through expertise and experience.
Informal leaders are the “go-to’s”; their peers recognize them as knowledgeable and someone with whom they feel comfortable confiding and seeking advice.
Disruptors are those individuals who abandon the status quo, “shake things up,” and are innovators. They challenge, reimagine, and take the clichéd “think outside the box” and bring it to life.
The greatest leaders are an amalgam of all three; they become the informal leaders in their environment, become experts in their field through experience and education, have a vision for the future, and introduce something new and original. Along with these attributes and accomplishments, authentic leadership is rooted in several vital traits:
Trust. Leading others involves vulnerability and belief, so it requires trust.
Comfort. You have to be someone people can go to and feel safe around.
Communication. Without proper, effective communication, everything else falls apart.
Competency. You have to know what you’re talking about and exude confidence.
Vision. Do you know what lies ahead? Are you planning for all outcomes and circumstances? Can you look beyond what’s in front of you?
Attaining power requires a lot of the individual who seeks it. Everyone has the ability to tap into the power needed to learn, grow, and transform. The pursuit must be about more than vanity or control but a higher calling. Power that is driven by purpose, that is anchored in aspiration and the desire to empower others, that wants to disrupt blindly followed rules with exciting, ground-breaking ideas that set the new standard, is magic. It is the force that leads to transformation.
We can help develop you into the confident, competent, and visionary leader that attains power and position, but what you do with that power is up to you.