Gary Winters

Coach  Workshop Facilitator Author

Where do you get your power to lead?

Where do you get your power as a leader?

My favorite definition of leadership, which has been widely attributed, is “the ability to get others (to want) to do what you think needs to be done.” I inserted the parenthesis, because the best leaders inspire us to be committed to a particular course of action – not just do it.

In organizations, there are many ways leader are empowered. Most draw their power from more than one source. Here are a few of the most common:

Legitimate power: leaders can derive some (or all) of their power simply from the position they hold in the organization, which gives them the authority to make decisions and choose actions on their own. A director has more “legitimate” power than a manager, who in turn has more than a supervisor, who in turn has more than a lead, and so on. While legitimate power is, by definition, legitimate, it is a weak leader who leads simply from his or her authority. It’s usually not enough to create committed followers. Leaders who fall back on their legitimate power will hear themselves saying, “Why do you have to do it? Because I said so, that’s why!”

Expert power: Some people have leadership power because they possess an expertise or skill that others do not have. If you choose to climb a mountain, for instance, you will want to find a guide who’s been there, and done that. He or she will have an enormous power source based on their experience, and you will willingly follow their lead based on your confidence in their competence.

Coercive power: A leader can derive power from his or her ability to deliver a negative sanction, or to make people fearful. When I’m pulled over by a traffic cop, he (or she) has lots of power, and yes, I’m afraid to challenge it. A leader in an organization can get results by making people afraid of the consequences if they don’t produce. That said, this is a short-term strategy and is widely understood to be ineffective in the long run.

Reward power: On the other hand, people willingly follow leaders who have the ability to deliver rewards, both extrinsic (promotions, salary increases, bonuses, public recognition, etc.) and intrinsic (making people feel better about themselves. What leaders who use reward power understand is that “what gets rewarded gets repeated.”

Information power: Some people are leaders because they have information that others want to have (or they have access to it). Information is power, and the laws of supply and demand work here as well. The more highly regarded the information is, the more power the owner of that information can be, because he or she can decide who gets to have that information.

Connective power: As the saying goes, it’s not who you are, but who you know. Leaders can create power based on their relationships with others. The administrative assistant to the CEO can (and often does) have enormous power, because he or she is the person who acts as the gatekeeper for the CEO. No one gets access to the CEO without going through the administrative assistant. Likewise the Chief of Staff, the Assistant Director, and so on. The risk for people who build power based stemming from their connection is obvious, however. If the person to whom they’re connected leaves – there goes their source of power!

Referent power: Last, and perhaps most important, is the leader’s own personality and skill as a visionary and communicator. Great leaders always have a referent power base – we want to follow them because of who they are. Sometimes we identify this as their charisma, and then make the mistake of believing that leadership is something one is born with. But I believe Warren Bennis had it right when he said, “Charisma is the result of effective leadership, not the other way around.”

If you want to take your leadership practice to the next level, focus on ways to increase your referent power. Keep this thought in mind: “When I left the dining room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England.” – A women when asked her impression of the two English statesmen Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone after dining with them.

“What ELSE Your Boss Never Told You” is the sequel to the very popular “What Your Boss Never Told You.” Packed inside are more tips, techniques, and insights about the challenging, but rewarding leadership position.

“What ELSE Your Boss Never Told You” is written in a conversational tone, as though you and the author were enjoying a cup of coffee and talking about the issues that emerge for new leaders. It stands alone, and/or could be read before or after the first volume, “What Your Boss Never Told You.” You can start with any chapter and read in any order you like.

if you search for a book on management, you’ll find a staggering 600,000+ books currently available. How can you narrow that down? “What Your Boss Never Told You” is the best place to start.

No textbook here – this book is short and sweet. It’s designed to help you “unpack” your new job and be effective from the first day with your new team. It contains twenty-one chapters filled with the wisdom Winters has gathered from real managers – effective, successful leaders in organizations much like yours.

Leaders make decisions every day – big and small. Most know that if they include others in the decision-making process, the quality of those decisions – and the commitment to them – will likely improve. That said, they also know it’s impractical, if not impossible, to include others in every decision they confront.

“To Do or Not To Do” tackles the question of when to make decisions on your own, and when to involve your team. It gives you a deceptively simple but proven method to determine, when you are facing a difficult decision, how to decide how to decide.

Far too many meetings are dreadful, mind-numbing, energy-draining, productivity-sapping, colossal wastes of time. As someone once said, “To kill time, a meeting is the perfect weapon.”

Here’s the deal: if you’re willing to learn and apply the techniques in “So, How Was Your Meeting?”, you’ll call fewer meetings, while vastly improving the ones you do lead. They’ll take less time, have more balanced participation, produce better decisions, and result in concrete action items for follow-up afterwards.

While there are thousands of books written for people about to retire, this may be the only book for people who manage soon-to-retire employees. Written in a casual, conversational style, “Managing the Soon To Retire Employee” will give you everything you need to know to move forward with confidence and grace.

You can be successful with Sooners. It won’t happen by chance, and it’s not a matter of pulling some management “trick” out of your hat. But you can learn how to do it, and you can apply what you’ve learned right away.

Managing friends or former peers can be awkward. When you become the boss, everything about these relationships can suddenly be uncomfortable. There’s a new set of ground rules to establish – as manager, you are going be accountable for the work performance of friends or former co-workers on the team, and they are going to have to adjust to the fact that they now report to you. Everyone involved can feel awkward and hesitant about the future. 

Have you been approached by management with an offer to promote you to supervision? Or, are you mulling over the possibility for the future? Find yourself not sure whether to accept the promotion?

If so, you’ve come to the right place. Help! They Want to Make ME a Supervisor will help you sort out a very big question: Should you accept the offer to become a supervisor? Once you’ve read this book, you’ll be confident that you’ve made the best decision for you and for your organization.