Don't Abuse Your Position!


Just because you are the boss does not mean that you are the best person for the job or even that you are doing a great job of managing and leading your team…..Lee

Equal To or Greater Than = Influence

By Mary Jo Asmus

My favorite leaders are genuinely humble. They know they don’t know it all, and they know they have much to learn. They dive into learning with gusto. They make mistakes and try again. If they are in one of those boxes on the organization chart that gives them authority over others, they don’t take it too seriously. They know that they can stumble and fall at any moment. They are – in a word – very human.

I’ve said it before. They put their pants on one leg at a time – and they know that those they influence do too. It might seem contradictory to what it means to lead, but they know that others – at their core – are equal to or greater than they are.

People don’t want to feel “less than” anyone – it doesn’t feel good. Without trying, these humble leaders have a way of making people feel like they are important, and by doing so, are able to open up greatness for others that can transform. It isn’t easy, but you, too, can take a stance of “equal to or greater than” when you put your attention to it, and it will influence others.

Understand that you start from the same place: Your role, as an organizational leader, isn’t who you are. Likewise, their role as a follower isn’t who they are either. What you both are is human. With all of the good and bad that goes with that. You both struggle to do your best, you both have your strengths and weaknesses. Ask: where is the common ground between myself and this person?

Recognize when you take a stance of superiority: Since you are only human, you will have times when you think that your ideas are the only ones worth considering. You may push your agenda without taking the effort to understand theirs. There may be value in what others put forth, so don’t allow yourself to shut out new ideas. Catch yourself in the act of this kind of thinking. Ask: what do I hear from them? What is new and fresh?

Notice and admire other’s strengths: Learning to find the good in others is like a muscle that needs to be continually exercised in all of us. We tend to judge based on our (often false) assumptions and experiences. If you think about it, you can always find something good about someone else – even those you’ve judged harshly. Listen hard. Ask: what is good in this person? How might I enjoy or nurture it?

Learn to forgive: Every one of the people around you will be human and less than perfect. When you don’t forgive others for their faults, you’ve put yourself in a position of superiority. Learning to forgive opens up the possibility for them that they can learn and do better next time. Ask: what will it take for me to see possibility in the midst of others’ shortcomings?

Understand when you need to serve: Your job is to make your follower’s job easy. Many leaders get great satisfaction from asking, “How can I help?” and using their position to remove the barriers that get in the way of others’ greatness. Ask: what is keeping my followers stuck? What barriers can I remove to help them?

Believing that others are equal to or greater than you can make a difference in their performance. That’s influence at its finest.

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