This Idea presents six positive steps leaders can take to use power well, maintain it, and use it for good ‘pro-social’ ends. By following these steps they can enhance group success and make decisions that have a positive impact on their organization. The Idea also warns them against falling prey to “illusions of alliance” that can lead to the eventual demise of both their power and position.
There are countless reasons why CEO and senior executive turnover takes place; external factors such as economic volatility, disruptive technology, and industry shakeups can all play a part. But according to an article published in IESE Insight, a senior leader’s own perceptions are a crucial factor in their fall from grace. Sebastien Brion describes a phenomenon where executives fatally overestimate the strength of their relationships with others — what he calls an “illusion of alliance.”
Brion outlines six steps that leaders can typically take to gain and maintain power (i.e. control over some valued resource upon which others depend). This power can be used for good ‘pro-social’ ends if used according to Brion’s guidelines:
According to Brion, by learning to act in manners such as those outlined above, CEOs can build their power rather than precipitate their own demise.
Brion suggests that the biggest determinant of whether senior leaders maintain or lose power is the extent to which they emulate self-serving versus group-serving behaviour. CEOs that do not serve their subordinate and stakeholder groups might end up facing pressure to step-down or worse, be ousted by forces that conspire against them.
As such, facilitating social coordination and cooperation in order to enhance group success is crucial. Avoid self-serving behaviour and personalized power motivations. Instead, use your power wisely and for the benefit of the people around you and the organization you serve.
Think You Have Power? Check Your Perceptions. Sebastien Brion. IESE Insight Issue 19 (Fourth Quarter 2013).
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