Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Business

Beware the power-hungry boss

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves." — Lao Tzu

Have you ever observed a leader with his or her staff and wondered how the employees could stand working for that boss?

There may be many reasons for bad bosses, but one that really seems offensive to many of us is that of power-hungry leaders. Those leaders definitely do not share leadership or power with their employees, but instead try to keep all the power of their positions for themselves. They see power as a fixed sum — if one person has more, than others have less.

Most of us can easily identify what shared power looks like, and certainly we know when it doesn't exist. It only takes one example to see how a boss either shares his or her leadership and power or hoards it. Perhaps the leader gives a talk and constantly mentions his/her own accomplishments without highlighting the staff sitting in the audience who were the ones who really did the work. Just the use of the word "we" vs. "I" can be quite telling when it comes to who shares leadership.

Leaders who are good at sharing power talk to people as equals. They treat people as humans, rather than boss vs. workers. Those who are not good at sharing power spend their time with people they feel are higher in status than they are, and they ignore those who fall below them in the food chain.

Just watch people as they are meeting others for the first time. Do they genuinely seem interested in everyone they meet, no matter what their position in the firm? Or do they quickly discount those who are lower in status or position than they are, and instead move on to more important people?

People who share power also occasionally work in the trenches with their employees. No job is too dirty or boring or trivial that they would not also be willing to do it. Their employees see this — they recognize that their leader is willing to work long hours in poor conditions, etc., just like they are. They respect the leader for this. On the other hand, leaders who leave the employees with all the grunt work and are never willing to be in the trenches do not gain the respect of their employees.

Information is also handled differently from those who hoard power vs. those who share it. Some leaders are overly secretive and don't want others to know what is going on. The saying "knowledge is power" is certainly true, but it is still okay to share information. If your team does not know what is going on, they can't be as effective. Employees will also see you as hoarding information for your own personal gain.

On the other hand, if the leader shares information, the team can try to figure out how to best help the leader. Effective leaders communicate with their employees to let them know what is going on.

I have coached many employees who told me how they had no idea what decisions were being made, what appointments were being scheduled, what clients would be visiting the firm, etc., and therefore, they could not figure out how to better assist their bosses.

There are a lot of problems that result when leaders do not share power. Those who have false perceptions of their own importance and power spend a lot of time reinforcing it, showcasing it and trying to protect it. Their hoarding of power leads to feelings of powerlessness among others. I have heard some employees in these work units say they were thrilled when their bosses weren't at work since it was more relaxing for everyone else there, and they could concentrate on doing their jobs without the presence of the powerful boss.

If you build a team where you share power, you actually become more powerful. Why? Because you have a staff of employees who will do anything for you. They will support you and do whatever it takes to make you and the team successful. If, on the other hand you keep all the power for yourselves, be prepared to find a new staff every few years because you'll probably lose the talented workers you have. It's your choice.

Joyce E.A. Russell is the vice dean of the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business and the director of the Executive Coaching and Leadership Development Programs offered by the school. She is a licensed industrial and organizational psychologist and has more than 25 years of experience coaching executives and consulting on leadership, negotiations and career management.

Comments
Spirit Airlines names new president, CEO for 2019

Spirit Airlines names new president, CEO for 2019

Spirit Airlines, the South Florida-based budget airline, is gearing up for new leadership. Bob Fornaro, president and CEO since January 2016, will step down from his position in early 2019. He will be succeeded by Ted Christie, the airline’s current ...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Three things to watch for at the Federal Reserve meeting today

Three things to watch for at the Federal Reserve meeting today

WASHINGTON — On the day when Janet Yellen will hold her final news conference as Federal Reserve chair, the Fed has left little doubt what it plans to do Wednesday: Raise its benchmark interest rate for the third time this year. The increase would be...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Picturing something different: St. Petersburg man finds second career as photographer

Picturing something different: St. Petersburg man finds second career as photographer

A chance meeting during a really tough time in Rossie Newson’s life resulted in him finding a talent he never knew he had. After leaving his job as an illustrator at the Tampa Bay Times in 2009, Newson devoted most of his time and energy to his fathe...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Flipping homes for big profits is getting harder in Tampa Bay

Flipping homes for big profits is getting harder in Tampa Bay

Michael Sadeghpour was just 18 when he did his first flip.Using money saved from a job and borrowed from his grandmother, he bought a foreclosed condo in north Pinellas County for $67,000. He did some inexpensive renovations and flipped it for $125,0...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Wee Gallery entrepreneurs turned black-and-white baby mural into thriving business

Wee Gallery entrepreneurs turned black-and-white baby mural into thriving business

When Surya Sajnani and Dave Pinto were expecting their first child in 2002, she painted a mural with black and white zebras on one wall of the nursery. The couple had read that a baby’s eyes are stimulated by repeating patterns of black and white. "I...
Published: 12/13/17
Six kitchen gadgets that are completely useless

Six kitchen gadgets that are completely useless

If you’re buying me a gift this year, don’t get me an Instant Pot. I’m serious. I don’t subscribe to the "you can never be too thin or too rich" school of thought, but the "you can never have too much kitchen cabinet space" is dead right in my book. ...
Published: 12/13/17
Vendors and shoppers pack Airport Farmers & Flea Market for holiday season

Vendors and shoppers pack Airport Farmers & Flea Market for holiday season

BROOKSVILLE — With 300 to 400 vendors packing the Airport Farmers & Flea Market on recent weekends, controlled chaos has been the order of the day for Dorri Spoto, who manages the 16-acre site with her husband, Joe Spoto."It’s quite hustle and bustle...
Published: 12/13/17
Career Q&A: Two bosses who don’t care for each other

Career Q&A: Two bosses who don’t care for each other

Q: I seem to be caught between two high-level managers who really don’t like each other. One is a director, the other is a vice president, and I am an assistant to both. Whenever the director stops by my desk to chat, she makes critical remarks about...
Published: 12/12/17
Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, known as the place Elvis Presley ate following a 1956 concert and Tampa’s last classic prefabricated diner, has shut down after more than 60 years in business.Owners Karen and Nicholas Liakos could not be reached for comment, but ...
Published: 12/12/17
Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Washington PostA former Facebook executive is making waves after he spoke out about his "tremendous guilt" over growing the social network, which he feels has eroded "the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other."Chamath Paliha...
Published: 12/12/17