What Makes a Leader Genuinely Powerful?


This is the third and final part of a series on Purpose, Presence and Power: the three areas that consistently get results time and again for my executive coaching clients.

Previously, we talked about leading with Purpose and building authentic Presence. Today, I'll tell you about how successful leaders develop and leverage Power. This is a vital topic, since leadership is all about getting things done with and through others. Here are three proven strategies that my clients use time and again:

  1. Invest as little as 15 minutes per week to build stronger relationships. Most of us have so much going on that we put networking on the back burner. Although it may feel optional, leaders should consistently dedicate time to deepen key relationships. The payoff is huge for your career and your ability to get better business results. As you build your network, use your desired outcomes and goals to guide you. But also remember to maintain the balance between giving value and asking for support. This will help you cultivate deeper, authentic relationships. If you focus on maximizing the opportunities in front of you (meetings, calls, or events you are already attending), or setting up meetings for as short as 15 minutes, you can typically accelerate the process.People respond to authenticity and passion, so be purposeful about how you want to show up and what you want others to know about you.

  2. Pay attention to the informal power at your company. Power doesn’t just come from a job title, although those big titles do help. Often, "informal" leaders – those who have power because of their experience, credibility, and network – shape what really happens in the workplace. Stop and reflect about who is connected to whom, and how those relationships impact each individual’s level of influence and how decisions get made. It will give you better insight into how to navigate the political landscape and how to get your projects over the goal line. And don’t forget the importance of mentors and sponsors to guide you and advocate for you along the way.

  3. Lift other people up. Last but not least, remember that building power and influence requires looking at all levels of the organization (not just looking upward). One of the most impactful ways to build loyalty and engagement is by investing in others. There are many simple strategies to do this – offer support, provide perspective, or teach something you know how to do well. And don’t forget that this goes way beyond your team to include your peers, an often overlooked but critical group that can make or break your career path.

Taking even a few minutes each week to notice what’s happening around you and authentically building relationships can make a big difference in how much Power you have. This week, think about how you are doing in the three key dimensions of Power and choose one to focus on.