How to Use Your Power
Male Leaders Have a Critical Role to Play
Friend, have you seen the articles about the rise in male college dropouts and in the number of men leaving the workforce? Are you seeing the reports on men abusing their positions to harass their own team members? As a male leader are you wondering whether you are becoming obsolete or part of the problem?
I'm not worried. In fact, I'm fired up about all the opportunities for me, you, and other men to do good, important work, collaborate with others, and leave a lasting legacy. Despite all the books and column inches about the demise of men, we still have a tremendous amount of privilege and power.
What has to change is how we use our power.
Male leaders who can break free from the memes of Old Strength, with its reliance on hierarchy and repression, will be able to access the New Strength of authenticity and connection, and leverage the power of inclusion, equity, and belonging. Doesn't that sound better?
Here's what brave, powerful men can do with power.
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New Strength News #1
How "Old Strength" Leadership Nearly Broke Me
Old, outmoded understanding of strength depended on exerting power over people in a zero-sum game of dominance contests, oppression, and exclusion. This kind of "strength" is all too familiar. You’ve probably worked in teams led by insecure bullies, aloof neglectful supervisors, or saw mysterious decisions being made by members of the old-boys-club. Or perhaps you notice yourself relying on it when you're stressed out or insecure.
Years ago, I was promoted to a top leadership position for which I was just qualified for. The combination of my drive to do well and my fear of failure caused me to drop everything I knew about collaborative, servant leadership. I became demanding, rigid & aloof. I was a drill sergeant when I should have been a mentor. This top-down approach sabotaged my relationships with my direct-reports and their performance plummeted. Instead of investigating my role in the dysfunction, I doubled down on my power-over, oppressive leadership and while feeling more and more frustrated, lonely, and scared.
I came close to ruining the organization and my career.
Fortunately, my board believed enough in my potential to give me some feedback and get me some transformational coaching. With deep introspection and support, I discovered that beneath my fear of failure was powerful passion for the work. That passion gave me the courage to ask my team for help to become a better leader. Over the next few years we thrived and succeeded together.
Here are my key learnings:
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