Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wielding power through your team

Came across a recent article from BusinessWeek magazine yesterday that discussed "an inspirational approach to leadership."

It uses NY Giants coach Tom Coughlin as an example of an old-school "command-and- control disciplinarian," "autocratic tyrant," and "distant, dictatorial figure" who "changed his leadership habits."

According to the article:

"Rather than screaming even louder at his players, Coughlin sought to forge more meaningful connections with them. He instituted an 11-player 'leadership council' he regularly huddled with to gauge the team's needs and concerns. He invested more time in sitting down with players to learn about their families and other aspects of their personal lives. Coughlin realized that wielding his position's power by trying to exercise control over his players was a losing proposition. Instead, he now wields power through his players.

It's worth noting that while Coughlin's goal, to win the Super Bowl, remained the same, the way he got players to buy into this goal transformed. Of the three ways of getting people to do things—coercion, motivation, and inspiration—Coughlin chose to emphasize the latter source of power, and it paid off."

The author points out that while coercion and motivation are still viable and necessary, they've grown less effective. In the words of the author: "The old hierarchical control over things and people is now gone for good. Rather, it's power through something—a power that connects, not one that commands."

According to the author, the key is providing people (employees, players, investors, boosters, etc.) with a vision they can rally around and a inspirational goal they can work toward.

"Coercion requires an ongoing investment in a bureaucracy of rules, processes, and enforcement. Unlike coercion and motivation, the source of inspired conduct is intrinsic and internal. Inspired employees act on something they believe in; they are in the grip of ideas; they are compelled by a deeper purpose and propelled by values they hold fundamental. Because they can be shared, [values] spur collaboration and serve as the glue that keeps people aligned and energized."