By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to help you exercise more self control in volatile situations.
The vice president was fuming mad. He stormed into the president’s office, firing away in a staccato of criticisms that verbally shredded the president into pieces. Non-plussed, the president calmly looked at the vice president, waited for him to catch his breath and said quietly yet firmly:
“Let’s talk.” And then he whispered: “Let’s talk.” And in a softer whisper, he said: “Let’s talk.”
Most of us would have lashed out at the vice president in self defense. But leaders know that power restrained is power retained. Power stems from within — in the heart not in the hand. As poet Alfred Tennyson noted: “Self reverence, self-knowledge and self control—these three alone lead life to sovereign power.”
Power emerges from calming down not blowing up; from seeking within not searching out. Power-punching executives ironically weaken their leadership muscle, as philosopher Lao-tse noted: “Force is followed by a lack of strength.”
When Abe Lincoln barked his fist military order as a commander in the volunteer company in his first military power punch —- an order was met with resounding disobedience. Maybe that’s why Lincoln said: “Nearly all men can stand adversity but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
The most effective leaders I have seen rely more on personal power than on position power. With position power leaders can direct the work of others, evaluate their performance reward their behavior in gaining compliance.
But with personal power— based more on developing relationships — leaders engender a more comprehensive, more meaningful, more productive alliance. Effective leaders nurture their personal power.
They exercise their power more creatively, more collaboratively. They don’t wield it. They yield it. They give it away. They power it down. And ironically the more power down and give away the more power they have.
Rely more on your personal power not your position power to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
You might also like these previous Leadership Mints on Attitude:
Power Lunch: Feeding More than your Ego
SUBSCRIBE: Have a Leadership Mint delivered to your E-mail every business day. It’s free. Just click the SIGN ME UP box in the upper left column.