February 22, 2018

The leader: Master or servant or something else?

Three managersThe notion of the “servant leader” conveys the important idea of the leader serving the people he or she leads. That’s a useful shift in perspective from the more traditional idea of leader as master and the led serving the leader.

But perhaps servant leader isn’t quite right either…

The idea that the leader has a lesser status than those she leads may cause other difficulties. The real art is leading without status either way. Abraham Maslow said that the most successful (Self-actualizing) people are not invested in power over others i.e. they are uninterested in status. That’s the most sustainable approach in the long run and the only one available when we have no explicit authority.

Seeking status above those we seek to lead won’t work well for us in the long run, but neither will appearing to place ourselves beneath them.

Status-free leadership is the better goal.

How much is status a feature in your working life and what perspective do you take on it?

Your “power to”, do you use it?

Woman reflectingWe all have power to achieve things or to be a certain way, possibly more than we’re comfortable admitting. As Marianne Williamson said, “it’s not our darkness but our light that most frightens us.”

This is quite a different thing from “power over” other people which might come to us through formal authority. “Power to” comes from our presence and indeed our personal mastery, our sense of purpose and our authenticity, our wisdom.

Abraham Maslow and others would say it’s our “power to” rather than our “power over” that counts in the end.

The more “power to” others perceive us to have, the more we will be able to help them. They will believe in us more than they will believe in the power of the problem they are trying to overcome. Denying our own “power to” and shrinking away from it doesn’t serve the people we might help.

Here’s the thing…

What do you choose?

Do you use your “power to” as a force for good, or do you hide from it a little (or a lot) and diminish what you can do for the world and for yourself.

It’s a choice.

How do you sit comfortably with your own power?