The Idea: All communication disconnects are essentially power struggles. Who’s in control? Who’s right? Who has the strongest voice? Communication is a continual balancing act, juggling our own needs with the unstated needs of others. How does it feel to be at the losing end of a power struggle? And how does this affect your influence, confidence, and personal impact? Unfortunately, some of us are likely immersed in, coming out of, or about to enter a power struggle. You could be on the verge of losing your authority, influence, or your standing. Why do people lose their voice, and how do we protect ourselves from a fall?
In a recent article titled Power Causes Brain Damage, author Jerry Useem states, “Once we have power, we lose some of the capacities we needed to gain it in the first place.” We need empathy and we benefit from it. If a leader in a position of power has lost their capacity for empathy, problems will soon follow. The illusion that less empathy garners more power is as incorrect as it is dishonorable.
We lose our voice when our credibility is suspect. And the burden to protect credibility falls on the shoulders of our leaders. The most trusted leaders understand “when” and how” to exert the appropriate form of influence. It’s not a technique, it’s a means of demonstrating that they are flexible and willing to meet the other person’s needs.
Power struggles are emotional. And feeling disrespected is always the elephant in the room. Often, it’s about a lack of mutual respect, and you can’t move forward unless respect is acknowledged. Are you courageous enough to relate on an emotional level, creating a safe place for another to truly share how they are feeling?
How do we minimize power struggles?
- Keep Things Safe. All effective personal engagements must be foundationally safe. Are you known for consistency, poise, and emotional health or do others feel you are unpredictable? Are you getting the truth from others or have you created barriers? A predictable leader is a trusted leader.
- One-on-One Experiences. According to Vanessa K. Bohns, “A Face-to-Face Request is thirty-four times more successful than an email.” What is most convenient isn’t always what is most effective! If you want to create connection with others, you must invest in one-on-one personal discussions and you must adapt your communication style to meet others’ needs.
- Simplicity. If you want to minimize a power struggle, focus on things that are truly important to the customer, peers, and your leadership. Most people are addicted to low priority activities versus driving what matters. Simplify your plan; simplify your meetings; simplify your communications. Trust me – you will be unique!
Empathy, humility, and creating safe relationships doesn’t weaken a leader’s authority. In fact, it creates more power, authority, and influence; it creates a platform to minimize the risk of a power struggle.
Are you an adaptable leader and do you embrace diverse communication styles? Or are you guilty of driving one speed and communicating with others on your own terms? You may be on the verge of a power struggle.
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.