Power & Influence: Do You Have It?
Power. A five-letter word with big ramifications. A word full of possibility and hope. An idea so bold it can propel us to do great things. It is also a word many find intimidating. Some find fearful. Surely it describes someone else. Who me . . . powerful? The sheer notion of the concept forces us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, are we willing to embrace it? It can be as simple as flipping on a light switch when we make a conscious choice to own our power. Working with women across the globe has given me insight into the discomfort so many have with this notion of power. Yet it is this very idea that holds great promise and can unlock further career success.
The reason the Black Sheep motto is “Lead. Be Heard.” is because we are passionate about helping leaders be heard. Few things are more disheartening than finding talented managers who are overlooked for that next promotion. It is difficult to watch brilliant ideas get tossed aside simply because the leader did not have the communication skills to influence others to action. Influence and power go hand-in-hand. In order to influence, one must accept the idea of power.
It is surprising to me how often I find leaders at all levels of the organization looking to the right or to the left for the answer. I see them look up to the boss or down to others in the organization waiting for an answer to emerge. It takes a fundamental shift inside to accept the fact that the image in the mirror is where the power lies. So how do we make this fundamental shift?
First, say to yourself frequently “I am powerful” or “I choose to own my power.” Studies show we eventually believe it if we repeat it enough and make a conscious choice to shift our mental model. At first it is not easy to change the way we think. But with focused effort, it is possible to quiet the voice inside that is holding us back from owning our power and having executive presence. Change our words, change our world as this popular video says https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNhYbJbqg-Y Eventually, you will find a new reality and wonder what used to hold you back!
Second, be conscious of the language you use when communicating with others. Avoid over using flowery language like “excited.” Remove diminishing words such as “about” and “kind of.” Speak boldly with intent. We have to remove the questions playing games in our subconscious like “Can I do it?” or “Am I enough?” If we don’t silence those questions internally, the lack of confidence will seep into our communication like a toxin. It happens in subtle ways such as apologizing too much, speaking too softly, or exhibiting body language showing us in a subservient position rather than one of power. The journey of professional development starts from the inside out.
Third. look for a “power” partner. Ask him/her to listen carefully listen to your words and watch your body language. Ask them to help you learn to accept a compliment with grace, not diminishing the good things said to/about you. Ask for their help in becoming bolder in your communication style. Sometimes we need others to see what we can’t see for ourselves.
Owning our power is a journey one step at a time. I look forward to seeing you on the path beside me.