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February 12, 2011
Leadership and Power

Do your supervisors know the difference between leadership and power? Do they know how to balance the different needs and requirements of being a good leader? Below is information to convey to your supervisors.

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Sometimes people confuse leadership with power. Leaders are often portrayed as hard-driving, hardnosed, and headstrong. And many good leaders have those qualities to be sure. But it takes both force and influence to lead others effectively. The two approaches complement each other and create a powerful, yet adaptable force for action. Good leadership always balances power and influence.

  • For example, good leaders must be both commanding and understanding. A leader must know how to take command and run a department or work group. At the same time he or she must be understanding and take the needs of each group member into account.
  • Leaders must direct as well as consult. They have to be able to direct operations and activities, but they also need to consult those they lead and listen to their ideas and opinions.
  • Leaders must develop a balance between ordering and asking. They have to know how to give orders when necessary, and they know when it is more effective to ask for cooperation.
  • Leaders must be striving yet yielding. They need to strive for success, but they must also know when to go around a barrier rather than try to break through it.
  • Good leaders are both strong and flexible -- just like the best athletes. Leaders must know when to stand firm and when to bend.
  • Finally, sometimes leaders need to be controlling and sometimes they must rely on influence. They have to be able to control situations and groups, but they also need to know how to influence, facilitate, and work from within the group -- or even from behind the scenes.

The above information comes from BLR's presentation "Leadership Skills: What New Supervisors and Managers Need to Know." For more information on all the training courses BLR has to offer, go to our Employee and Manager Training page.


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