Leadership and power
If one isn’t careful, there can be confusion about power and knowledge’ the power of having people ask for approval, require them to check in when it isn’t necessary, when they can be take on outcomes to complete, not jobs, job by job.
True power is based on giving it away.
I was walking through a factory one day and saw a couple of people waiting outside the factory managers office to speak to him when he finished a phone call. I asked what they were doing and they said they needed to get his approval to move on to another job. I asked what they thought his answer would be and they said it would be yes – he just liked to know where things were. They had been waiting for about 15 minutes- two of them, a half hour, it happened around two or three times a day.
I said to them, why not ask the manager when you speak to him if you really need to get his approval or should they only come to him when they had a question they were unsure of the answer. Luckily the manager was looking at his own behaviour and realised this had become a habit with him – he interpreted their asking as a sign of their insecurity and had forgotten to release them from that obligation when he recognised that they had achieved a state of “I know I know, I know you know I know, I know you know I know you know’.
Knowledge – the power of it. If we are not careful we keep knowledge, the knowledge of process, of facts – people come to us to ask questions. If you think about it carefully, you will find the same people come and ask somewhat the same questions over and over.
Instead of answering questions, why not try asking the person what they think, what they would do? ALALA*. You need to be careful of the ‘I don’t know that’s why I am asking you’ habit type language but, if you remind them of their experience, of their skills and ask again, you will inevitably find they do have the answer, it’s just they need the reassurance that you won’t find something wrong. You need to be careful about not ‘shooting their answer down’ for some pedantic reason, using ALALA* will help there.
Unwittingly, by just answering questions, you take the power away from people. There will of course be times when they don’t know, or the situation is different and asking questions is appropriate.
You will get more time, they will not lose as much time and you will gain more ‘connection,’ the culture of your business will improve, as will problem solving and ownership of responsibility. Pride in work done will increase and there will be less mistakes.
This all leads to “I know I know, I know you know I know, I know you know I know you know’. That is the basis for solid self-respect, easy delegation, sets up easy job sharing, flexibility in the workplace, a positive culture. The ‘skills matrix’ and identification of ‘gaps’ support safe growth.
True power and use of knowledge is when you make yourself redundant to the daily activity – when you can go on holiday and are not be missed, when you are available for other projects because you have developed a free-standing team.
Where there has been a problem, under the heading of indulging in positive feedback rather than criticism, look at the situation from the point of view, “what we could do next time to avoid this”. This lowers the emotion, holds back on defensive thinking and opens the minds to the positive of fixing. Yes, you may have to go back to the actual situation but that will have the back drop of the concept that it won’t happen again.
True power is when you give it away knowing it can stand on its own two feet.
ALALA is a communication based in the need for people to be honoured with listening – ask,listen,ask,listen and ask again. This concept does need unpacking, give me a buzz and I will walk you through it. Probably the best culture reinvention technique of all time!