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Doing the Hokey-Cokey

Steve Siebold in his book, How Rich People Think, says that the “haves” believe that money reveals who people really are, whereas the “have-nots” believe that money changes people from who they were into someone else.

The same thing can be said of those who find themselves in positions of authority. Those who know how to handle it, also knew before they were given it, while those who misunderstood from the beginning simply proved that fact when they got promoted.

If you already know how to use the power that you’ve been entrusted, then the following five principles will seem like common sense. But if you are among the those who are still learning their trade, then study these points carefully. Even you can learn to dance.

1. It’s better to be a shepherd than a lion tamer.

In most cases, employees need to be nurtured. They need to be encouraged to be all that they can, but within the limits of what they are capable of.

Shepherds do this. They let their sheep wander across the hills to look for the grass that appeals to them the most. But sometimes those sheep get lost. They end up in places where they shouldn’t have gone. That’s when the shepherd comes along and helps them to get back to where they belong.

Shepherds, however, don’t use a chair to keep their sheep at an arm’s length; neither do they use a bull-whip to demonstrate who’s in charge.

2. It’s better to over-appreciate than to under-appreciate.

Many managers take their subordinates for granted. They assume they’ll always be there. And their opinion is that “no news is good news.” That means that the only time that they saying anything is when those who work for them, in their opinion, have caused a problem.

The truth is that you need them more than they need you. In fact, your success depends almost entirely on the work they do. As a manager, your job is to finesse, to shape, to direct, and as necessary, to dig in with the troops.

3. It’s better to share what you know than to keep it to yourself.

Contrary to popular opinion, information is kinetic power. That means that it only has the potential to be powerful. But to unleash it, you must share it. If you don’t, then it makes you powerless. It prevents you from doing anything through others and let’s face it: You can’t do it all by yourself.

You demonstrate real power when your people can do a great job without you. If you to hold their hands all the time, then you’re doing something wrong.

4. It’s easier to keep people motivated than to motivate the demotivated.

Hardly anyone starts a new job demotivated. Usually they’re so excited that they can’t wait to get busy. The demotivation comes later, after they’ve been there for a little while. Six months seems to be about the average. There are many possible causes, but the biggest one probably is that they realize that their boss or their organization doesn’t value them anymore; that instead, they’re just a warm body.

Do yourself a favor: Remember that you hired them because of the value that you believed they would contribute. Make sure that that they know that you know that and, while you’re at it, provide them with a supportive environment so they can.

5. It’s easier to make a good decision than to try to fix a bad one.

Good decisions come from obtaining salient information; and to get it, you have to listen.

Listening is a lost art. Most people believe that it means to pay attention just long enough to gather their own thoughts so that they can interject their ideas as soon as the other person pauses for breath. And if the lung capacity of the one seems to be more than a few seconds, they interrupt anyway, because they’re convinced that what they know is far more relevant than what anyone else does.

In the words of a wise sage, learn to shut-up. You may be responsible for making the decisions, but you certainly don’t have all the answers.

If you put these five principles into practice, then you’ll be well on your way to exercising the power you’ve been given responsibly, and your staff will reward you by giving you more cooperation than you imagined possible.

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