Like it or not, the rules of leadership and power have now changed. What used to be widely accepted is no longer tolerated. Understanding the new rules of leadership and power will help you be more successful in your job, business, relationships and life. I will also give you a simple five step S.M.I.L.E. process to help grow your leadership power.

In a notable study of power conducted by social psychologists John R. P. French and Bertram Raven in 1959, they theorised that power can be divided into five forms. While the armed forces, and business for that matter, used to teach and use a very authoritative command and control leadership style which was based on legitimate power (I outrank you so you have to do what I say) and coercive power (or else you will suffer consequences), these days the most successful leaders have moved towards a more collaborative style of leadership.

Collaborative leadership requires a shift to using three alternative forms of power:

  • referent power (compliments, charm, or the ability to be looked up to as a role model)
  • expert power (ability to administer to another information, knowledge or expertise) and
  • informational power (organizing, utilising and sharing information)

rather than just relying on legitimate and coercive power. For aspiring leaders, the focus needs to be on building their referent, expert and informational power which in turn will deliver career advancement and legitimate power.

There are five simple strategies (easy to remember acronym S.M.I.L.E.) that you can use to grow your leadership power bases:

  • Bring your Smile and a positive attitude to work with you every day
  • Go the extra Mile above & beyond what you are paid for and help others if you can
  • Share your Ideas and learnings with your colleagues.
  • Share the Love – give compliments to others (in public if possible) when appropriate and blow your own trumpet (gently) letting others know of your achievements
  • Be responsible for your own Education and organise your learnings for easy future reference using a journal or tool like evernote

In the foundation stages (first five years) of my career I invested at least two hours per day (after work hours) in learning the knowledge required to not only excel at my role but also to master the role above me. Many employees fail to understand the the learning needs to occur before the promotion, not after it. (The only place you will find earning before learning is in the dictionary)

Another requirement for successful leaders is to know the people in their organisation and understanding the relationships that need to be maintained in order to be successful. So a leader that has made it to the top needs to invest significantly more time in being (a leader and relationship builder) rather than doing (technical work). Great leaders bring together talented people and assemble them into hard working teams that deliver outstanding results.

Understanding people can be made a lot easier through tools like Myers Briggs, DISC or PDP profiling which uncovers people’s behavioural styles, communication preferences and blocks to leadership. Successful leaders (and teams for that matter) know each others strengths how to communicate with each member of their team in a style that suits the person and elicits the desired response.

So what does this mean for business leaders today?

What got you to where you are is not enough to take you to the next level. Make a commitment to achieving excellence in all areas of your life and regularly invest time and money into becoming the best you can be, taking yourself and those around around you to the next level.

It could also be summed up with one of my favourite JFK leadership quotes of all time. It reminds me that leadership is a verb, not a noun. Just substitute the word “business”, “organisation”, “employees” in place of the word “country”,

“Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”

LEAD – The World Will Follow

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