I once quit a job that I really cared about.
My boss used his positional power in ways that created many problems for the team.
For example, one day, he phoned me while I was travelling home from a client site. He told me about a change that was happening the next day.
While I thought the change might have merit, I knew it would significantly impact the team. So I suggested before implementing the change, it would be prudent to talk with the team to get their input.
I proposed that this discussion would make the transition easier for the team, as we’d be more likely to have the team’s buy-in.
He told me it’s too late as he’s already decided it would happen. In fact, he’d already set things in motion, and people would find out when they arrived at the office the following day.
This is a simple example of where my boss used his positional power to have what he wanted.
The reality is that every boss has positional power. This power is the result of having the role of giving raises, promotions and being the one to fire people.
In other words, having positional power is unavoidable when you’re the boss.
Misusing and abusing that positional power, though, is totally avoidable.
There are many things you can do to lessen the impact of this positional power.
- Involve the team in decision making, rather than you making decisions in isolation
- Adopt a practice of radical transparency, in which your team knows things almost as soon as you do (yes, there will be exceptions to this, but they are few and far between)
- Move your desk into proximity of the team (assuming you’re going into the office, of course)
- Ensure you have time to be available for your team every day (hint: if you’re booked solid every day – you’re not available)
If you’re the boss, you can’t avoid having positional power. However, be careful how you use that power, as it will make all the difference in team health.
They say people don’t quit jobs; they quit bosses.
Don’t be the reason people quit.
You’ve got this.