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How do we get managers to buy-in to transformation?

How do we make changes stick? 

If you are asking these questions, you have already stepped into powerlessness. 

Power is often considered as the realm of dictators.  It is rarely spoken about in a positive light.  But you can’t make lasting changes until you can successfully navigate power. 

Power is rarely seen, but often felt.

Leaders who successfully lead organisational change have mastered the art of managing power.  Yet, ask them for a step-by-step guide to navigating power and they probably can’t articulate the nuances of what they do or how they do it.  In this post I’m going to lift the lid and give you pointers so walking the path of powerful is accessible to you. 

Spine shivering power

The word “power” can be a negative trigger.  It can be interpreted as if you want to be the ruler, dominating everyone and everything.  Perhaps you feel the uncomfortable shiver when you hear the word “power”.  Ask yourself whether it is the word you don’t like or is it the concept of power?

Very often any negative association with power can be cultural, and possibly an inter-generational inheritance.  Power seems evil.  Smacks of manipulation.  But if we change the word “power” for a more comfortable word, we can see power for the positive influence it can have in people’s lives. 

As a leader and to make a transformation in your organisation, I suggest you make your peace with power.  Perhaps think about power as “energy” – without it success if not possible. 

The reluctant powerhouse

Observe the play of power.  Discover where power is coming from in your organisation.  You may find the source of why you feel uncomfortable with power. 

Here are 3 questions for you:

  1. Watch how you feel in different situations or meetings?
  2. Do you feel uncomfortable if a particular person is in the room?
  3. Do you feel powerless when a particular role is in the meeting? 

The flow of power

Power follows a flow creating patterns in an organisation.  Every organisation is different, but here are key concepts of the flow of power: 

  • Power follows money
    • A deep seam of regular income – cash cows – have power. The business stakeholders protect cash cows, but very often the protection is from a position of fear of losing regular income.
    • New market position – investing in the future gives everyone hope, so temporary power is automatically given to people associated with the new venture.
    • Hierarchy, structure and tradition – often it is perceived that the pinnacle of the organisation has the power. Power doesn’t always sit at the height of the hierarchy.  Don’t make an assumption!
    • Personalities – Take care! Observe your observations because a strong personality or affable person may not have the power.  They may be a spokesperson for someone else’s power. 

Hunt the hidden power

The shortcut to finding the hidden power in any organisation is to find the bottleneck within operations.  Very often this single person will have developed a specialism and they deftly prevent change or improvements being executed.  This single person will often be cunning and leaders will not be aware of the power the person wields. 

Building your strategic power

Becoming powerful requires a strategy.  You need to get buy in and support from existing places of power.  This is why it’s important to find where the existing power exists.  Take these 3 steps and start to build your power.

Step 1 – Never, ever ask for support, always give support.  Be the helper not the helped.  Remember the way you do anything is the way you are perceived to do everything.  The smile, the thank you, helping team leaders, managers or directors to be more successful.  Never try to sell your ideas, instead talk facts and benefits. 

Step 2 – Align your energy with a cash cow.  Power exists in profit centres, so align yourself with a key player in a profit centre.

Step 3 – Get comfortable talking about money.  Tie profit and/or numbers to decision options. 

Creating your powerful navigation map

First, examine your mindset around power.  If you’re not comfortable, do the inner work and get comfortable.  Next, map out your organisation and where the power lives.  Identify where you are disconnected from power, where you are connected to power.  Where is power hiding and you’re not connected?  And finally where are your power opportunities?  

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