Although people often mix the two, being a leader and having power are very different. Having power is a form of authority or someone who has access to resources they use to influence change. Whereas leadership is about the characteristics one holds, such as being empathetic, motivational or understanding to one’s needs.
If you’ve been following politics lately, you’ve likely witnessed firsthand how dangerous someone having power while lacking good leadership skills can be.
Good leaders make decisions with their hearts, while those who merely have power without the ability to lead make decisions using tangible tools, lacking consideration for the people they are responsible for serving.
Here are three powerful tools you can use to ensure you have the right balance while leading.
- Adding a little honey. Become a friend before you are a critic. Many leaders are so focused on the end result; they overlook the preliminary ingredient to influence others to change their minds. Start every conversation of correction with a positive statement. Acknowledge the great things others have done. Congratulate their work, efforts or participation. After doing this, they are more likely to be open to protecting that image by considering your suggestions. Ask for their ideas and you may find you share the same solution without having to say a word.
A drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall. – Lincoln
- If you are wrong, admit it quickly and insistently. If you know you’re going to be critiqued and condemned anyway, why not beat them to the punch? Say of yourself all the things you know the other person is thinking even before they get the chance. Try it and I’m certain you’ll find people are more forgiving of your mistake, even minimizing it as to avoid kicking you while you’re down. It’s tough to argue with those whom you agree with. Good leaders don’t have big egos.
- Let them talk. When dealing with complaints, it’s more effective to listen than it is to speak. When people are upset, they just want to vent. When they vent to you, their leader, it’s important to note, they are only asking for you to understand (and acknowledge that you understand, too). If you quickly jump in to disagree or defend, you’ve lost them. Doing this is dangerous and it prevents them from expressing the frustration they desperately need to share. Be patient and encourage them to fully speak. Most people just want to be heard.
You can always tell the difference between a bad leader with power and a good leader with power. A bad leader with power seems to take control of any room using their power as intimidation, but a good and powerful leader can influence an entire room without making anyone feel inferior.
A bad leader will create change by fear, while the good leader will influence change by desire.
To be a good leader – an effective leader, you must convince those around you to develop their own genuine desire to do what you need them to do. That is the essence of powerful leadership.
This article has been edited and was previously published in the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel Legacy Magazine’s Power Issue May 2017 Edition.