Power and Poise: When you see a dragonfly in flight, one understands that power is not a force, but an energy that when used positively and in the possession of poise, gets results.
With leadership comes power. With power often comes distance, as if the energy of power is too formidable to touch or get close to.
I have worked with leaders who, with each promotion felt an ever-increasing distance with the people in their organizations. Their direct reports, once peers are now looking up, immediately experiencing that distance. Eventually they find themselves lonely at the top, with few they can confide in, even amongst their peers. The distance is palpable for both the leader and the organization.
In many organizations, this distance is per design. Based in the belief that one can-not lead without some professional distance in order to make objective and sometimes unpopular choices or decisions. It is so deeply held that it happens naturally.
My client, a recently promoted Vice President, explained it this way, “I walked out of my new office with a view of the city and the hallways became quieter. People I have known for years waited for me to talk to them. There was a different, more formal energy in the air. I suddenly realized I had power.”
Position power can be a heady experience. Left in the head, the ego can take over resulting in command and control behavior. These organizations create vacuums that suck the passion and inspiration out of their employees. Employees are powerless, and it becomes the role of the leader to empower them, again creating a reinforcement of ego involved position power.
But if we think of power as the energy that moves us forward, that wakes us up, it can shift the role of leadership. Power does not have to be formidable but instead can be a channel to energize not deplete or suck the life out of the organization. Poise, defined as the state of consciousness, awareness and calm that allows leaders to find their center of balance brings a new dimension to power and what it means as a leader. Power and Poise combined create a connection between the head, the heart, and the feet firmly on the ground. Wendy Palmer and Janet Crawford write in their book “Leadership Embodiment”, “This level of clarity and commitment springs from a unification and alignment of Head, Heart and Core that is represented in the synchronization of all aspects of motion, and deep desire to act on the behalf of others.”
When we work with clients on these concepts, we begin with helping our clients become comfortable with the word power. We have them explore what it means for them to be a leader, and what is at the core of what they stand for. It is the differentiation between thinking about what is expected of me as a leader, to who I am as a leader. It is the difference between being awarded power and possessing power. It is power emanating from the heart.
What does this mean for a leader and distance? My client the newly promoted VP, surprised by the cooler reception, became very clear about creating an organization of support. Focusing her leadership energy on building community, trust and strength. Understanding that her leadership is at the center, not the top. She shifted her energy to creating emotional connection, versus detached space. This expansive way of leading is no longer about status or level or position, but about a true and core belief that we are all in this together.
“Remember that poise and power are inseparably associated. The calm and balanced mind is the strong and great mind; the hurried and agitated mind is the weak one.” Wallace D Wattles
The role of the leader who possesses Power and Poise is to stay connected to purpose, be present and centered while creating energy to move forward with the company and creativity of others, have the humility to know that while they possess power, they do so with gratitude, and they do not take themselves so seriously that they lose sight of what is truly meaningful.
To Fly like a Dragonfly….