Leaving the aging issue I’ve been writing about, I am compelled to write on one of my favorite subjects, power, and leadership. I’m at home with these topics not only because of years of research but also my personal interest in what it means to be a leader. As most of you know, I was a leader for well over 27 years and admit to complete ignorance of what it took to be a leader.
I led as a “deaf, dumb, and blind” leader of children and young staff. I never asked or questioned what kind of leader I was. I did my job as best I could and demanded this from those I worked with. I listened and did what I could to make problems go away. I tried hard not to interfere but to let people and kids do their jobs and be their best. Now, in my old age. I am told that I was a good leader. Still, I dig deep to understand what I did and why.
Later on, when asked to help professionals with their staff issues, I thought this would be a “cakewalk.” But I quickly discovered that those problems that existed with and between staff were of a minor nature. It was the leader and their power and influence over their staff which was the real problem. This turned me into an avid student of power, leadership, relationships, and, ultimately, dialogue.
I, the former leader, was now the student and mentor to other powerful people that were as ignorant of the part they played in the behavior of their staff as I was. I learned the secrets of power that worked when used to foster good, growth, personal achievement, and relationships. I also discovered that parenting and leadership are identical. Whoever holds the power creates the environment, whether it be home or office.
I set about getting this message across, not as a tool but as an attribute of the leader. The leaders had to become aware of their power. They had to become vulnerable and witnessed as such by their staff and their children. They had to reach for and attain genuine dialogue with those they led.
My goal was to flatten the pyramid of power into as level a playing field as possible. Thus, instead of monologue and top-down control, people become empowered to speak in their own voice. Amazing how well this works and how good relationships become fact.