Using Your Power

Being a leader gives you power. And if you’ve read our previous post, you know the importance of not abusing that power.

The fear of abusing power should not keep us from using it. It must be used and should be used – well.

Power can be a strange thing to get a grip on. We may not always know when we get it but we certainly know when we lose it or it’s taken from us. It tends to agree most with those who do not want it too much. If you get power but don’t take it upon you and take charge with it, it moves on to someone who will. It’s been said that power is always available and only requires for you to bend down and pick it up, yet it does not always feel like that. Sometimes we simply feel more powerless than we really are.

Power can make you grow and rise to a challenge, sometimes beyond what you thought was possible. It can make you run the extra mile, and it can keep you up at night because of fear of failing to meet expectations from others and yourself. It will bring out the worst in some people, revealing a vicious streak that no one has ever seen, but it also has the ability to bring out the best in people.

People who are given power but steer away from using it often leave subordinates and colleagues confused and insecure. Who is really in charge? Who should I coordinate with? The manager said yes, but is that a valid yes or do I need to check with those actually performing the task? Who should I clear the decision to go ahead with? Is the approval from my manager valid or do I need to double check with the manager above? This confusion costs a lot of time, worry, and wasted energy. We waste time in battles over power on even minor decisions because the supposed leader did not take charge of the situation, the project or even the meeting.

Power means responsibility and responsibility means getting the blame when things go wrong. This may be why some shy away from using it or displaying it. It may be poor instructions or unclear guidance from your own superior, there may be a whole range of understandable excuses and explanations. None of them are valid though, because .

So use your power, but use it well. Use it to grow people, lead them well, challenge them and protect them from harm, and they will help you create amazing results that you could never achieve if you don’t take your power upon you.