One of the essential elements of good leadership is the ability to use power effectively. Oftentimes when people hear the word power, it somehow creates a negative impression. Generally, it is associated with control, dominance, or manipulation. And the person who wields power is usually perceived as a heartless, dictatorial and self-centered individual.

But power isn’t as sinister or upsetting as all that. Used appropriately, it can be favorable not just for a leader but for everyone involved. In a situation where participation and cooperation is crucial, it could turn out to be the only solution for a disjointed and confused body.

  1. Simply put, power is defined as “the ability to influence the behavior of people.”
  2. It is the quality that makes people listen and take heed; it is that driving force used by a leader to move people into action.
  3. In a sense, power is synonymous with charisma: without it, leaders would have no appeal and will fail to convince followers into believing in their competence.

Leadership is based on authority, and authority should be used responsibly if goals are to be reached. One mistake we often make is using power the same way with different people, and that’s where we lose our effectiveness. This error reflects a lack of understanding and appreciation for the distinct attributes of every person and their contribution in the organization.

When dealing with individuals in a unit, you have to exert the right amount of power, sometimes by degrees. Too much or too little influence can ruin the effect. The best way to find out how much power to use is by simple communication – although that is in itself tricky.

  1. Because people should be handled differently according to who they are or their role in an organization, talking too much, asking too much and even listening too much may prove harmful instead of beneficial.
  2. Learn to gauge the personality of each individual. Are they docile or passive? Are they confrontational? Are they fully capable, or need more guidance? Do they display feelings of discontent or do they show enthusiasm for the job?

Depending on these and other factors, you should be able to identify your communication style and whether to talk more, ask more or listen more.

  1. For a person whom you think is capable of pulling things off the way you want, talking things over and telling them outright could be the best move.
  2. If they have concerns and doubts, asking and probing may help to motivate them.
  3. If they are on fire with ideas, it would be advisable to listen. The important thing is to make everyone feel that they each have a role to play, and the success of an organization depends on how they fulfill that role – and that you are there to help them achieve that. Because, after all, that is the role of a true leader.