Your Power is a Privilege.Jan 15, 2019
I rankled at the term, a trigger silently pulled in response to being called that name, despite sensing good-naturedness behind the accusation. The term, for me, conjures up restriction, enforcement, lack of free will, subservience - all words that are completely at odds with the way I want to be remembered as a leader, and in direct opposition to those who have role modelled great leadership to me in the past.
Having grown up listening to my incredibly tiny but equally fiery grandmother, Marjorie, recount tales of managers who had tried their hardest to (unsuccessfully) quash her bold and protective spirit, I’ve long abhorred being referred to as anyone’s “boss”. Her time as a line supervisor in a leading confectionery company was littered with incidences of misogyny, cronyism and denigration, almost always at the hands of her superiors. I doubt she’ll ever truly understand the power that her stories have held for me, her ice blue eyes piercing into me, outrage animating her face, the passing of time doing little to dampen the damage. Her bosses they may have been, but her leaders, they were not.
I’ve realised that it’s incredibly easy to be a successful leader. It takes few ingredients that can’t be developed or cultivated through simple awareness and commitment; it requires no big financial investment, no significant experience, no inordinately large team. It requires only that you care enough to ask yourself the question: what can I do today to help my team grow in their own lives, through the work that they do here?
So, if you’re a leader, whether of one or 100, you have a choice. You have a choice to manage the people in your team, to have them meet or exceed targets and expectations, and to pay them a wage. Or you have the choice to actually, really, truly, make their lives better in some way, through every interaction - even the hard ones.
Your power, your influence as a leader, comes not without responsibility. That responsibility is not to meet the dollars, the outcomes, or the metrics. That responsibility is to serve the people you lead.