In many of my seminars I speak about the importance of using power to get things done. But first let me say, all power is good, yet power can be bad. It is the utility of power that makes it good or bad.
The two aspects of legitimate power which have been popular to dismiss lately are:
- Dressing professionally to achieve the outcome you are trying to accomplish.
- Providing managers with an office that reflects the management status they have attained.
Something as simple as how you are served by a retail clerk when you wear professional clothing, versus if you went in wearing baggy, ripped jeans, and a hat on backward. Call this discrimination if you wish, but that’s reality.
Personally, I encounter this regularly when traveling. If I am wearing business casual clothing, the possibility of getting upgraded and treated with more respect on a flight or in a hotel is significantly improved.
At work, my general guidance for managers is to wear clothing one level above your employees. If they wear jeans, you wear slacks. If they wear slacks, you wear a sports coat. If they wear a sport coat, you wear a suit, etc.
Bosses (even in the high-tech world) are saying they want their offices back. Complete open floor plans are just not working. It is not about status or privilege; it is about think-time, giving your team their own space, time for critical decision making, and mutual respect.
Many leaders are now swimming against the tide of the open office. In a recent study, British researchers found that despite the modest communication improvement, open offices decreased worker motivation, productivity, and the manager’s ability to focus.
When an employee has a “bad day” – which happens – having your boss right there in the bullpen increases stress and often workers will choose not to even show up, lowering productivity. Some executives who are required to comply with the open-space policy are renting offices in other locations, using their own funds, just to maintain professional privacy.
Professionals need quiet space. Successful leaders I have interviewed focus on spending quality time with their employees, but also appreciate their private space.
My question for managers:
“Are you balancing time with your team appropriately to encourage participation, while at the same time maintaining your legitimate power?”