Ever hear the old adage, “You can win the battle and lose the war”? Leaders have to be careful to choose their battles wisely and avoid getting things done through Positional Power. Positional power is defined as the power associated with one’s title or position and often emerges when leaders try to force employees to do something simply because they are the BOSS and they said to do it. This approach didn’t work when we were kids and our parents told us to do something “because I said so” and it certainly won’t work with adults in the workplace.

Employee relations in a high performance organization are complex and require both leaders and employees to work together to achieve the desired business results. Sometimes though, leaders lose sight of these complex relationships and attempt to force employees into doing something because “it’s the policy”. Sure, you can use positional power to demand compliance and, for a while, employees will comply. But there will come a day when the use of positional power will force employees to their breaking point and no amount of promises, threats or coercion will make them perform. They’re simply done – they’ve checked out. If you’re lucky those employees resign and move on. If you’re not lucky, they “retire” in place and become an obstacle in the organization.

Unskilled leaders believe it’s easier to just tell employees what to do and how to do it and move on to the next problem, but that approach won’t drive employee loyalty, dedication and engagement and is vastly shortsighted. When employees don’t understand the “why” they can’t and won’t truly engage and without full engagement your organization can’t achieve full results.

Strong leaders understand the process to accomplish a goal is more important than the final product of that process. In other words, the process you use to work through a problem is more valuable to you in the long run than the product it produces. This is never truer than with leadership and organizational culture (OC). By taking the time to develop and implement actions that will support your organization’s values and philosophies you inspire long term employee loyalty and engagement and secure your organization’s future.

In our last blog we discussed the importance of purpose – for individuals, leaders and organizations. One concept that is particularly important to leading others and helping them find purpose and meaning in their work and personal life is realizing strong leadership is more than merely “implementing and following the policy”.

To help others find their purpose and support yours, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Share your organization’s values and philosophies with ALL your stakeholders
  2. Inspire others by helping them understand and connect your values and philosophies with your actions and how that supports their personal values and philosophies.
  3. Communicate your organization’s mission and vision so as to create a bond between their job duties and how they contribute at large.
  4. Discuss your expectations and seek input and dialogue.
  5. Provide ongoing, meaningful feedback – positive and constructive.
  6. Establish systems that encourage and rewards responsibility and accountability
  7. Before taking punitive action, verify your information.

Engage your employees by treating them the way you want to be treated and doing the right thing. It won’t be profitable to win the battle and lose the war by making uninformed, hasty decisions that drive your best people into other employment – prudence and purpose win out every time over hurried compliance.