The moment of birth is a time when we are perceived as perfect – have endless possibilities, can do no wrong and are loved unconditionally.
But this time of celebration and new beginnings often slowly dwindles as we grow. Our actions, wants and who we are is questioned, challenged and at times, praised. The infinite power and possibilities we were born with, in a way, become suppressed.
Let’s face it: we all want to be powerful, loved, safe, happy, and have a voice. Children model enabling behaviours through being innocent, loving, highly creative, outspoken, dependant and knowing how to influence situations to meet their needs.
Why, as adults, do we find these behaviours so difficult to empower?
The answer can be found when reflecting on the past environments and systems we grew up with. If you examine the culture of your organization, you may find parallels to your childhood years.
When young, we act and behave in ways that serve us. We are instinctively interdependent and use all sorts of innovative ways to enable our success in life. From crying to get food to saying it like it is without fear of reprisal, we know how to use our tools – and no one taught us, we just knew.
However, things then shift. We begin to learn how things ought to be done in our society. In essence, we move from being an individual to being a virtual clone of the ideal state. Our actions are questioned and quickly realigned to meet expectations. Our power, suppressed.
We are all inherently powerful; just disconnected to it. Yet we read about the power of others: “What does it take to be like me.” Look in the mirror and realize that you are not Anthony Robbins, you are you, and you are powerful. The negative little gremlin on your shoulder needs to be flicked off.
Think about many successful entrepreneurs – many dropped out of high school and took a risk at capitalizing on their unique selves.
Reconnect to your power. It’s not easy, it takes work, but it’s there for all of us to grab a hold of and harness. While we were never taught how to unleash it, ultimately we all know what it is. We just have to summon the courage and step into it.
Getting back to how organizations can be like those formative years of our life: when we join a company, we start with a strong sense of power, passion and commitment, and the people we work with embrace us. Quickly we learn the rules, what works, what doesn’t and who you need to please.
Playing by the rules often means we win and those who don’t often end up losing. Yet, business leaders continue to scratch their heads and wonder why people avoid conflict, giving feedback, idea sharing, or being innovative.
Great managers engage the power others hold!
Some simple steps managers can take to ensure they enable the power they truly hold in their employees include:
1. First understand your strengths, passions and true purpose as a leader. Only then, can you confidently and authentically do so for others.
2. Understand your employees. Provide ongoing one-on-one coaching on possibilities, not limitations. Employees may end up being in the wrong role; however, by you caring about their power, you have won their heart and energy.
3. Be authentic. We each want to be valued and do something of value. By knowing this, understand that politics do not serve anyone. In fact, they accelerate the artificial organization where everyone wears rose coloured glasses. What is the risk of being real?
4. Create team interdependence. Much emphasis is placed on team work as it should be. A culture of collaboration needs to be created so everyone knows who they need to work with and why. Without it, it becomes quite easy to fall into a sense of “I can do this on my own.” Companies are plagued with challenges of getting people to support one another and asking for help.
5. Provide individuals the capabilities they want and need. Unlike school, painting everyone with one brush stroke will not cut it in the corporate environment. We are all different in many ways from our cognitive ability, behaviours we need on the job, and our work. Recognize that so if training them, the workshop is flexible enough to build off a foundation of who they are.
6. Praise those who take a risk. Innovative organizations are winning in our global world. Apple didn’t achieve their success by accident. They are unlike any other and almost everyone wants to own at least one of their products.
By creating an organizational culture that embraces power, you will win together. Employing those who don’t harness their possibilities does not serve you, themselves, or your clients.
Be an authentic leader – speak the truth, listen, and believe in and unleash the power those around you hold. You will be a step ahead in the ongoing crusade for committed and passionate employees and clients.
Glen Sollors, Senior Consultant