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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Powers That Augment Your Relationships (and Those That Don’t!)

Relational satisfaction—the perennial issue. It’s never going away. The nexus of our relationships as far as influence is concerned can be adequately described via two leadership outcomes; one positive and intrinsically motivating, generating growth—the other negative, requiring extrinsic motivation; one that stifles relational and personal growth.

I love it how academia often describes what we already implicitly know, yet need words and thinking constructs around.

The premise discussed here is leadership theory but it works in any setting, for it describes the charismatic individual who uses reason and logic to good effect and who wins most if not all their relational outcomes; they inspire others, are fun to be around and they’re a joy to relate with, ordinarily.

Five leadership models of power in relationships... the five powers are: personal-positional-expert-reward-coercive. Two are positive—often to be used. These are personal and expert power. The other three are negative—rarely to be used. These are the positional, reward and coercive powers.

Personal and Expert Power

The mix of personal warmth, virtuous attributes and appropriately applied knowledge, often attributed as wisdom, is winsome in relationships—all of them—except in exceptional circumstances.

People seem to appreciate reason and logic almost all the time in those they’re dealing with. As a universal it intuits both respect and trust. Expert power is the most seductive power.

Positional, Reward and Coercive Power

The mix of authoritarianism, carrots dangled and consequences issued, plus the action of coercion is destructive in relationships—all of them—except in exceptional circumstances.

People who force their way end up making more poor decisions than good ones in the longer run.

Summarising Two Vastly Different Styles of Interacting

1. What wins most easily in relationships is good information effectively and fairly used. Next is the dealing we have with friendly and assertive people, which is quickly followed by times when we form coalitions with others; finally, bargaining and negotiating with people can be a lot of fun.

2. What starts us on the losing track is when people routinely order others’ compliance, enforcing authority levels, and the implementation of ritualised sanctions and punishments. This gets staid, predictable, ‘too serious’ and de-motivating.

The theory works in the workplace, at home with the family, at leisure with friends—simply everywhere. Apply the wise use of information and your personal winsome charm, in that order, consistently—with only rare but applicable use of coercive, forcing tactics when under true “team” pressure. Do this and in any relationship role in life you will tend to succeed.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Reference: Nick Forster, “Power and Influence” in Understanding Influence for Leaders at All Levels (Management Today Book Series) (Sydney, McGraw-Hill: 2005). Extract. Retrieved 4 February, 2010. http://www.aim.com.au/publications/mtbooks_influence_chap1.html

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