Leadership and Power

April 17, 2011

Strong organizations have leaders; stronger organizations have followers which lead!  Leadership is vital during times of change. “When the Rubber Meets the Road” so to speak… do the managers influencing this change truly process the leadership skills required to achieve the Results expected?

First off we define leadership as; “the ability to influence a group towards the achievement of goals”

The projects Trindent typically perform require leadership at all levels of the organization, so we would bucket Leadership characteristics into a few themes, Traits, Behaviors, and Decision Styles. All of which make sustaining change critical.

Traits:

The leaders which Trindent Management have been fortunate to work with posses these common traits:

  • drive and ambition
  • desire to lead and influence
  • integrity
  • confidence
  • intelligence
  • technical knowledge

Trindent has discovered these traits are vital to sustain change within dynamic organizations regardless of industry.  In the past year the world has witnessed the financial service sector fail many of the communities they serve because of poor leadership. One can argue that these traits were severely missing from the leaders of the most well known and respected financial institutions of the world.

Behaviors:

Leadership as it is defined in terms of one’s behavior debates the balance between being a job-centered or employee-centered leader. A job-centered leader only cares about the task at hand, win at all cost mentality, where as an employee-centered leader achieves the results through group cohesion, promoting a supportive work environment, and focus on the employee’s well-being. Clearly leadership behavior all depends on the situation challenging the organization, therefore recognizing the leadership behavior within the organization is pivotal to align the proper leader and his/her style with the employees executing the change.

Recently, two different clients were looking to establish operational baselines for their business needs, one clients approach was centered only around the companies objectives and goals (Job-centered), where are the other client leverage their distribution base to establish operational goals and relied solely on the outside opinion of the group to establish the goals (employee-centered). In each case the goals were established and the leverage their leadership behavior to meet their objectives. So, there is no perfect behavior, just the need to recognize how to lead the team

Decision Making Style:

Leadership decision making style is similar to behavior, however the intent of the actions are different. The styles are dependent of variables such as the quality of solutions needed, acceptance of the solution, and the time to make the decision. With those variables the leader may take action in multiple ways:

  • leader decides alone
  • leader solicits information, decides alone
  • leader discusses problem with subordinate individually, decides alone
  • leader discusses problem with subordinates as a group, decides alone
  • complete group decision making (e.g. consensus, majority)

As a result, a leader’s decision making style may be influenced by the dependent or independent variables of the task at hand. A dependant variable being:  the follower’s performance behaviors, and an independent variable being:  all those things that a leader can do to influence the follower’s performance. The means by which the leader influences the follower’s performance is due to the Power the leader has over the follower.

Power:

It is common when speaking about leadership to incorporate Power into the discussion. Power is defined as the capacity to influence someone to do something they would not otherwise do. In the US, we tend to be suspicious and cynical about power, even if it is used for “good”.  As Trindent grows globally we have witnessed the cultural differences of “Power” within organizations as well.

There are two faces to power, a Negative face of power which is dominance and coercive. I have greater influence over you, so you have less influence over yourself.  I win, you lose. Factory settings are common places for this display of power. The Positive face of power is enabling, inspiring. Here’s how you can reach your goals; you are capable and strong; working together we can accomplish these goals. One of our successful European medical device clients operate with this approach to power.

Conclusion:

What are successful organizations doing to lead change? They are leading with integrity, confidence, and intelligence. They “Read the Room” so to speak and lead with flexible behaviors and decision making styles while keeping a power position that inspires the team to reach its goals.