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From Control to Influence


Dr Carol Kinsey Goman - Expert Author

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A financial analyst once asked Herb Kelleher if he was afraid of losing control of Southwest Airlines. Kelleher replied, "I never had control and I never wanted it. If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don't need control."

Leadership and management are both very important to an organization, but they are built on very different principles. You can get the sense of the differences by looking at the etymology of the two words. Manage comes to English from the Italian word "maneggiare," that literally means "to control a horse." Whereas lead comes from an old English word which means "he who goes first in battle." Leading doesn't have anything to do with controlling or managing. It has everything to do with setting an example and influencing others.

In today's "knowledge work" -- with its reliance on project teams and cross-functional collaboration -- leadership in peer relationships is becoming increasingly important. As the guidance of team efforts tends to shift to whomever has the needed information or expertise, more people in the organization must be able to lead through influence, rather than relying on the control (or at least the illusion of control) that management position implies.

There are many kinds of power a person can possess, but only one (ascribed power) is willingly bestowed by others. This is the kind of power you have when the people around you grant you authority and influence over them because you inspire them to do so. As Dave Coolidge, CEO of William Blair & Company says, "Leadership is not about job title. It isn't even a matter of style. At the core, it comes down to two simple questions: What kind of person are you? And are those personal qualities inspiring to others?"

Rather than tighten the reins of control, future leaders will need to find ways to loosen their grip in order to harness the energies and talents of their team. Recruiters report that new employees already insist they don't want to be controlled or micro-managed. Instead, younger workers are demanding guidance, respect, and a chance to add value to the organization - or they'll head for the door.

Leaders (at all levels of the organization) whose sphere of influence is greater than their sphere of control have shifted attitudes and behaviors from one column to the other:

Control Influence
Uses power to persuade others Shares power and responsibility
Knows the answer Asks provocative questions
Hands-on involvement Self-directed teams
Gains compliance Builds commitment
Enforces rules Presents clear choices
Punishes failure Encourages and analyzes failure
Takes success for granted Celebrates and analyzes success
Protects people from reality Communicates candidly
Motivates through "pep" talks Motivates through inclusion
Demands loyalty Builds mutual trust and loyalty

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to inspire others is to be a good role model. Lead by example. Live your values. Gandhi once said that you must become the change you want to see in the world. Moving from control to influence may be as simple - and as difficult - as that.

About the Author

Carol Kinsey Goman, an international Keynote speaker on collaborative leadership and the impact of body language in the workplace. Communications coach to executives to improve their leadership presence and effectiveness.
Leadership blogger for Forbes and author of "The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - or Hurt - How You Lead.
Office: 510-526-1727
Berkeley, California

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-11-29 22:11:27 in Employee Articles

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