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power levers

Leverage is the tool struggling managers get clumsy with at best and are unaware of at worst.  Simply put, they are awkward when it comes to using leverage to influence the outcomes they seek.  Archimedes said he could lift with the world with a long enough lever.  I believe it!  Power, as a leader, comes from using leverage in the workplace.  Wisdom is present when you can utilize that power while others lack awareness of its presence.  Let that thought soak in a moment.

There are three simple power levers to get others to do what you want.  Using these levers gives you an extreme advantage with people during what others may consider organic “normal” interactions.  Yes, with power comes responsibility.  These power levers can be (and are being) utilized for unethical behavior.  I am optimistic that you will use these levers for excellent and necessary work as the leader in your circles of influence.

The first power lever is fear.  The instinct of fear has kept humans alive for generations. Survival is in our DNA.  I teach sales professionals to seek out the source of anxiety during the discovery portion of the buying journey.  Find out what they are afraid of, and you have leverage as the seller.  The same applies to leadership.  Ask calibrated questions (what and how) to provide the source of what your subordinate fears.  It can be fear of loss, fear of missing out, or fear of failing, to name a few.

Once you determine what someone fears, it becomes the lever in your hand as a leader.  Sometimes it is as simple as asking what they are afraid of and listening for the response.  If it is below the surface, you may need to probe a little deeper to discover what someone is scared of in a situation.  You need your operations manager (Mary) to buy into your decision for change.  As you probe deeper, you discover she is afraid to reveal she does not understand your reason for the shift in strategy.  The fear is masked by a “dirty yes” to accommodate your changes with no real commitment to making the change happen.  Sound familiar?

Once you discover the source of fear, you can use it to create power.  You can...

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