Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Power and the Passion: Acting in a Leadership Role

I’m recalling another song of yesteryear in the recognition of the presence of competitiveness I’ve not known for some time. You see I’ve recently acted in my manager’s position, a challenge I enjoyed. But, it opened my eyes to a fresh thing.

It’s the challenge of having your official authority usurped by others, for various reasons.

Power has an unusual and entrancing effect on most people. Official power and authority really means very little; the power of the group is the actual nexus. (It's hence the leader's aim to achieve the acceptance and respect of the group, gaining ‘permission’ to lead.)

The Midnight Oil song of the eighties, The Power and the Passion, is quite cryptic, but I believe it highlights the hypocrisy of leadership where power is abused. I also find that when people usurp power they abuse and show little respect for the traditional authority for these roles.

Yet, there’s a sense that we’ve all done it. We’ve all had a taste of going our own way when we’d have been better advised to come under the ‘power that be.’

People on both sides (leaders and those led) get very passionate about power, don’t they?

And this is one true blessing of acting in a leadership role--we get to taste defiance firsthand, so if there’s one thing we can truly learn for the future, it is to be more supportive, loyal and faithful of our direct leaders and others in pseudo-leadership roles over us, appreciating the delicate and necessary power-balance they’re seeking to maintain.

Acting in a role means others’ will inevitably seek to usurp power, including the unwritten, unsaid usurping of power given, in ways that directly or indirectly undermine the acting leader i.e. whether the usurper realises it consciously or not.

Keeping the power is quite a political game, if one intends to do it that is. Each of us has our own unique style of leadership. Mine is to try and not focus on the negative but to come back to the positive as much as possible. I prefer to avoid conflict.

So, for those who would seek to climb over the leader, if that leader were me, I’d let them, and then simply go in a different, more positive direction. If the rebellious behaviour persisted to the point where it was destructive, then we’d have to do something about it i.e. it’s a time for assertive conflict.

There’s no two ways about it. Leadership is a paradoxically hard role in any field--because people are fickle. That’s a fact of life. If we’re wise we don’t seek a leadership role before time otherwise we beckon an age of frustration and humiliation well before its time.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

No comments: