It's funny how we try to minimize the role of power in the workplace. Sometimes we use terms like "associates" or "team members" instead of employees. We try flattening our organizations, or downplaying job titles to help put people at ease.
Yet in the end, everyone is keenly aware of who has the authority to make decisions, and who does not. We haven't fooled anyone; nor is anyone racing to join our companies because we've mastered the employment semantics game.
Perceptions of Power
I'm convinced that even for those that abuse power, they still do not fully realize their impact. Even the most subtle comments or nonverbal cues are discussed and analyzed behind-the-scenes.
Do leaders know this is happening? Maybe. Do they take the time to think through how they might take advantage (in a good way!) of this analysis and grapevine chatter? Rarely.
Leaders today often get so caught up in "their world" that they simply can no longer effectively engage with other members of the organization outside of the leadership circle.
Perception Is Reality
One of the most effective ways leaders can use their power is when they reverse the power position. Allowing employees to teach, or offer their expertise not only sends a message that you're human (imagine that?!), but it also lets the employee know that they have value.
Leaders like to feel valued, right? Guess what? Your employees/associates/team members want to feel valued too. Making it a priority to elevate the self-esteem of your staff will not only connect them to the organization, but will help build your internal reputation as a good leader.
How About You
Who has the power in your organization? Is it ever shared with the employees? If not, you may want to consider switching the power position once in a while. It might surprise you how effective a strategy it can be.
I'd love to hear from you.