You’ve Got The Power, Use It Wisely

“It isn’t that,” said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. “It isn’t that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy or unhappy; to make our service light or burdensome; a pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and looks; in things so slight and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count ’em up: what then? The happiness he gives, is quite as great as if it cost a fortune.” – Ebeneezer Scrooge, speaking about his boss, Fezziwig, in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

You’ve made it. You’ve climbed the hill. It might just be a little hell, but now you’re in charge. You now have some power and somehow this power includes the ability to
coerce or compel other people.

“Power tends to corrupt”  Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887.

There is a tendency for this to happen to even well meaning people. You have more responsibility and are accountable to higher level people. Your natural response can be to try a little too hard to make sure everything goes well. And that includes all the work of your subordinates. This might also include your peers who depend on your department.  In the quest to ensure that you get good results, it is easy to look upon everyone else on as a potential problem.

Good managers and team leaders don’t do this. They look at the strengths and skills of the people working for them and coordinate them so their team, not themselves, has the best possible chance of success.  As I discussed in the post about culture, if you do not develop and foster that teamwork then no matter how highly skilled you are or how hard you can drive people through sheer coercion, you will never do as well as having a fully functioning integrated team.  How that team does is the ultimate indicator of how you are doing.

Find out how well you are doing.  Getting honest feedback from a team is a good way to judge. If your team is not afraid to offer honest criticism or ideas, that is a good indicator that you are treating them well.

As I’ve talked about in a previous post if you are not giving more power to your subordinates that you’re comfortable if, I think you need to rethink your strategy.  If you have a good manager above you, that manager is giving you extra. In that case you have even more power to spread around.  That puts you in the best of all worlds.

Be a manager.  Get good people.  Build your team.  Watch them thrive.  Someone above you will be seeing you thrive.


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