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Navigating the powerful person

Sometimes powerful people surround themselves with others who won’t challenge them.

If you are a direct report of that powerful person, you may be frustrated that you cannot suggest new ideas, or challenge that person in any way.  Sometimes people agree with the boss even when it is not a good idea for the company. We see this all the time.

If you are that powerful person you can learn to change your behaviors. Get in touch with the reasons you want everything your way. Ask yourself:

  1. Will my people stay if they are not allowed to voice their creative opinions?

  2. Will this lack of a collaborative environment stifle our growth?

  3. What is it about having my way that is so deeply engrained? (Fixed vs Growth Mindset)

  4. What would happen if I loosened up and encouraged more dialogue and input from others?

  5. Being powerful is not bad, but when you use it to quiet others and control every decision, then you are abusing your position and influence.

  6. Start by asking more questions in your meetings. Ask for others’ opinions and practice really listening, don’t do it just for show.

  7. Practice delegating not just tactics and actions, but push entire responsibility for projects to your team members. Give them creative license to do it their way.

  8. Learn to let go of only one way to do things. You will not grow as a leader with only your own opinions. You must get various perspectives: customers, employees, the market, the competition, your partners.

If you are that person in the group who feels victimized by the boss, get in touch with that.

  1. Is it because you are failing to speak up? What would happen if you prepared your ideas a bit more and got support from others prior to bringing up your idea to the boss. (Lemmings)

  2. What can you do to speak your mind in a credible way?

  3. Is this the right culture for you to thrive in? If not do something about it.

  4. Have you earned and built your personal credibility? It is never too late to work on building your brand.

  5. Maybe you have more to learn about the dynamics in the office before you challenge those in power. It helps to gain insight on from others, both inside and outside your team. Study others who have figured out how to raise issues in a credible way.

  6. There are ways to use your own influence, even if you don’t have positional power. Start by leading yourself, offloading the boss’ load and adding value.

  7. Know when it is safe and not safe to voice your opinion. You may need to develop more of a reputation for great ideas first before you challenge everything.

  8. Be solution focused, not problem focused. Do this and your feedback will be valued more often.


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