I asked someone to prepare a report. So they did it. But it wasn’t because I was right, smart, or knew more, but because I oversaw them. I’m their boss.
Contrast that to making pancakes (or waffles or crêpes) with my kids on Saturday mornings. While they may not listen to everything I say, they do their best to listen to directions when I ask them for flour, milk, eggs, etc. Why? Yes, partially because I’m their dad and am their authority, but also I know what I’m doing. And if they want yummy chocolate chip pancakes or Belgian waffles, then they know that I know how to get it done. And believe me, chocolate chip + carbs on a Saturday morning is exactly what they want.
So, how can I even compare these? The first one is an example of role-power and the second…well, it’s an example of influence-power because, well, it’s a story of me and my kids — it’s not a true juxtaposition. But it still has value.
One thing my kids taught me that I hadn’t thought about applying in the work environment is to refine my art, hone my craft so that I become the de facto scholar on the subject. That means whether it is making crêpe, performing competitive analysis, or truly understanding the customer, let’s spend time on becoming the expert. Combine that with wisdom (experience, good sense, excellent judgment) and you’re all set.
Think about the different types of powers we have. There is role power, there is influential power, there’s knowledge power… There are many powers — how do you want to lead? How do you want to be respected whether you’re at the top or bottom?