Power is a Matter of Attitude

By Nancy Proffitt, President of Proffitt Management Solutions and Proffitt Management Leadership Institute

nancy proffitt photoKen Blanchard, famed author of The One Minute Manager felt he couldn’t write well, had a fear of tests and took his college boards 4 times. In overcoming those obstacles he became a college professor and was ranked as one of the top teachers on the college campus.

Realizing his attitude was what was going to make up for this perceived short comings, Ken decided to think ‘what if I could‘ instead of simply saying ‘I can’t do that’. The rest is history as they say. He is a renowned motivator for others.

I have gleaned many rewards from a few of Ken’s tips on leadership and attitudes and would like to share a few of my own:

When he came home bursting with pride because he had been elected class president in the seventh grade, Ken’s father said, ‘Son, it is great that you’re president of your class, but now don’t ever use it.’

What did he mean by that? He meant great leaders are followed because people respect them and like them not because they have authority or a title. There is a tremendous difference between having authority and having power.

Authority is granted, like a job title, and should always be used sparingly while power is earned and must be continuously cultivated through our actions and attitudes. Power is earned only for the few who understand what leadership truly means. Anyone can be given authority. The few good leaders earn power.

Many people believe their self worth is a function of their job performance, along with their title, plus others opinions. The minute you define your self worth like that, everyday your self worth is up for grabs. We then falsely build our worth through misguided authority. How you think of your self will determine the power you ultimately gain through others. 

Leadership is not something you do to people; it is something you do with them. It is a matter of “being” not becoming.

The job of a leader is to get the “doing done” by others. Responsible leaders show confidence in themselves and demonstrate enthusiasm — constantly. Inspiring leaders have an abundance of passion for what they do. You cannot inspire unless you are inspired yourself. At the same time, remember you are going to make mistakes. Concentrate on your strengths and look for strengthens in others as you encourage potential. Mistakes and how we react to them are learning building blocks as you learn to lead yourself and then leading others.

When you have a true purpose for yourself and your life then it is easier to understand that what you do for a living does not define who you are; it is merely a tool you use to live your purpose. It is not what you do … it is what you do it for and how you do. True leaders understand this better than many with formal leadership titles.

True leaders cultivate their personal and professional power because of purpose.


Nancy Proffitt's management columns appear every other Thursday only in Palm Beach Business.com. To read her previous column, click here.

Nancy Proffitt, MBA, Certified Business Coach, is the president of Proffitt Management Solutions and Proffitt Management Leadership Institute. She is a board member of the Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce and Legacy Bank. Click here to check out her blog. She may be reached at 561-682-6060 or by email. Visit her website by clicking here or here.

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