The minute you use it you lose it

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Years ago Boss Magazine ran an article on the ‘Seven things a CEO should know’. I have forgotten the first six but the seventh has always stuck with me – “you can have all the power in the world, but the minute you use it, you lose it”.

In essence, it was saying that the key to engaging and motivating people was influence. In your role, you may have the power to order a staff member to do something, but the minute you do you have lost their ongoing support and input of discretionary effort.

So how do you influence someone to do something, particularly if it is difficult assignment or something that they would rather not do? I apply four key filters to ensure that I am exercising influence rather than control:

  1. Can I make the task or assignment a learning experience and one that they will feel that it would be good for their career?
  2. Is there a goal or outcome that we can ‘co-create’ that will ensure a personal sense of achievement in completing the task?
  3. Do they feel that they will be recognised by me and the organisation for undertaking the role?
  4. Is the task or assignment framed in a way that allows them to see how it fits into the bigger picture or strategy of the division or company?

To me, you know when you have been successful in influencing when an employee sees:

  • that the task or assignment is something that they believe in
  • that they, and the organisation, believe that they are the best person to undertake the assignment
  • that the task is worth putting discretionary effort into.

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