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THE Leadership Japan Series by Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan

Mar 31, 2021

We have met them.  Thrusters, mad with power and hungry to control others.  Organisation insider politicians who spend all of their time sucking up to the powerful, while lobbying for themselves to be granted more and more status and authority.  The absolute nobody, who controls approval processes and who milks it for all it is worth.  The psychologically damaged and emotionally stunted intent on making our life hell, now that they have been promoted.  The mixture of leaders and power can be a powerful tonic and it can also be a toxic cocktail.  Let’s take a look at five power constructs for leaders.  Have you worked for any of these bosses? Which amongst these are you?


  1. Authority power is the absolute refuge of scoundrels. They have nothing going for them individually, but they have three stripes on their sleeve and we have none, so they can control our lives.  They flaunt their position power and try to suppress everyone under them. They often hate their job and take it out on everyone they can bully.  There has to be hierarchy in organisations and there has to be compliance with policies. Leaders are there to make sure that happens but some take it way beyond the original intention. 


  1. Coercive power is nuclear brute force unleashed on anyone who questions the leader’s position, direction, policies, actions or who they decide they don’t want or don’t like. When the status title or the three stripes doesn’t impress subordinates, or when they feel threatened, then the scoundrel morphs into the demon.  This is often the leader parachuted into the organisation from outside, who starts looking around for people to disappear.  They want to build their own crew of cut throats who will follow and support them. They use all the power of the machine against you and there is very little recourse.  The infamous Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is their favoured bludgeon of choice with which to eject you out of the organisation.


  1. Expert Power describes those with capability, knowledge, experience, intellect and expertise. They are very smart and accordingly can command genuine respect.  We look up to them as a superior being in their field of speciality.  They are completely confident within themselves and so have no need to belittle others or flaunt their big brains.  They are magnets for attracting followers and fans.


  1. Reward power is the ability to garner followers by buying them off. Transactional relationships abound.  “I do this for you, so you need to do this for me”.  “If you don’t do what I say, you will miss out”.  Flunkies, yes-men, sycophants, toadies and lickspittles flourish.  They use the power of awarding promotions to favour nasties like themselves.  As patrons they demand total loyalty and so they trail these minions with them ever upward through the hierarchy, in order to bolster their own positions.


  1. Role model power is the knight on the white charger. They have charisma, integrity, vision and attract support from followers who wish they could be like them.  They have expertise like those with expert power and are respected because they can project their capacity beyond specialist knowledge.  They have tremendous EQ, human relations skills and are excellent communicators.


As leaders we are sometimes all of these types. We need authority to get things done, especially when our subordinates don’t agree with the policy or decision.  Not everyone is engaged with the direction the organisation is going and sometimes we have to coerce them to toe the line, whether they agree with the direction or not.  Hopefully we have real expertise in key areas, which justify the trust placed in us by the organization.  We need to reward good performance and encourage others to do more and make even bigger efforts.  We should be the role model for the team.  We are doing our best to grow our bench strength, so we are coaching others and investing in their career trajectories.


I am sure we have all seen megalomania gone mad in leaders.  Equally, we have also met leaders who are truly impressive.  How are you seen by your subordinates?  The Johari Window talks about our leadership blindspots.  We can’t see our own faults but they are visible to our staff.  What can you do to investigate your blindspots?  How open are you to painful feedback on your behaviour?  What about all of those grossly unfair statements you read in the 360 degree feedback document?  What are you going to do about them?  As the American philosopher Yogi Berra famously noted, “Leading is easy.  It is getting people to follow you which is the hard part”.