At its core, being a manager is about power. I feel that many managers fail to understand what that power is for.
A manager is a lot like being the King or Queen of a tiny, tiny kingdom. The sovereign of a country can impose their will upon their people, but that’s not their job.
A sovereign’s job is to keep their people safe, happy, and prosperous. The more prosperous the people become, the more power they gain. The more power your people have, the more power you have. The more powerful and successful the people are the more powerful the sovereign becomes.
A good sovereign only imposes their will upon their people to protect them. A really good sovereign convinces their people to take the action themselves.
The people above you made you a manager because they believed in, and trusted you. They grant you power, but that power is titular, until you have the support and trust of your people. Your people’s success, and happiness, proves that trust was well placed. It encourages those above you to have more faith in you, and trust you more. That is your voice at the table. That is your strength in negotiations big and small. Your true power is to influence the future of your company to support your people.
There are times when you will be asked to bring your people unhappy tidings. If you’ve done your job, your people will trust you. They will trust that you will help them through the unpleasantness. They may not agree with you, but they will trust that they have their best interests at heart. They’ll trust that will do everything you can to protect them.
Internal threats are the only time a manager, wields their power downwards. If your people are threatened from within, you try and fix the problem. If the problem can not be fixed, you exorcise it. Sometimes the problem is a person. Sometime’s it’s a process.
When the threat is external, you raise awareness, of the problem, and its consequences. Diplomacy play a key role in this. Few of us are particularly good at diplomacy, so do your best, and learn from your mistakes.
Your people give you power. Protect and encourage them. Use your people’s power to reinforce that protection an encouragement within your world. Spread their influence through success.
Work with your people to build their power and trust in you.