Achieving the Right Mix of Power, Responsibility, and Leadership
Leadership implies power and responsibility. If we define power as a license to impose one’s will on others, it becomes clear that in the context of leadership, power is the essential component of the opportunity of leadership.
This opportunity consists of the power to make a difference through decisions, empowerment, empathy, and cooperation.
How you wield power makes all the difference.
The intelligent and effective leader seizes the opportunity of leadership while accepting the responsibility to provide leadership that’s aligned with the goals of the organization and the well-being of the workforce.
Intelligent Leadership is the Responsible Wielding of Power
While it holds a limited place within the business world, the unchecked and boundless use of power creates an environment in which despots and demagogues thrive. Such a culture can destroy the stoutest of organizations from the top-down and the inside out.
A leader can force his or her will upon employees, but such an approach breeds resentment and poor employee retention. It will also result in products of inferior quality, dissatisfied customers, and waning profits.
When is it appropriate to wield raw power as a leader? Crises that demand effective and immediate response may warrant such a response. Barking out orders that leave no room for thought and analysis, however, should not become the regular MO of a leader since no organization operates under a perpetual crisis.
One should be aware that having the power to make a difference by simply seizing the opportunity of leadership does not qualify one as a leader.
Responsibility is the Cornerstone of Intelligent Leadership
Leadership is neither a title nor a license to boss people around. First and foremost, it is a position of responsibility. The responsibility that leadership entails is more than simple accountability.
To be accountable means to assume and accept ownership of the outcomes of a decision or project.
Being responsible, on the other hand, means that a leader understands and accepts the fact that he or she is the entity that must make something happen. This type of responsibility is about obligation stemming from a social contract, a job requirement, or a personal belief.
Intelligent leaders understand that responsibility is the price they pay for the opportunity of leadership. When delegating responsibility, they make sure their subordinates also understand what leadership responsibility is so that they, too, can combine power and responsibility optimally in the way they lead their teams.
Responsibility has a transitive property. The leader delegating and empowering employees bears a sort of second-hand responsibility for how employees complete their assigned tasks.
Leaders are Not Star Players
Instead, they are the catalysts of championship teams. An individual can create value through the wielding of raw power. However, leadership is about inspiring others to create value. At this level, with very few exceptions, the unadulterated wielding of power does not suffice.
A true leader is a mentor, not a boss.
Leadership training teaches leaders how to delegate responsibility effectively and how to empower their reports through it. Leadership development focuses on the balance between power and responsibility.
For successful leaders, the key to empowering their teams to excel is in accepting of the responsibility of leadership while delegating responsibility effectively.
Leadership training turns leaders into servants of the common good instead of into bosses, and it turns leaders into mentors instead of into dictators.
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