What We Ignore about POWER versus Technology

Power is more fundamental than tech. Odd, but we need to say this.

Why?  Because our startup culture is obsessed with technology, with all the things that might be possible. With coolness. 

And that's wrong, expensively wrong.

Technology is not a solution, it's not a product, nor a go-to-market strategy. It's not even a competitive advantage -- Unless Powerful Leadership makes it so.

Witness countless cool technology failures vs. victories always lead by strong strategists who hold the reins. Contrast with Paul Graham's "really smart guys" who will figure out the right idea. In this case smartness includes power / leadership.

It's the same in corporate fields. It's the tech-focused individuals who often disappoint and the powerful individuals who end up in charge. Which end of this equation would you rather be on?

So lets talk power - universally, everywhere.  You don't want to. Why? Because, as noted by Stanford business scholar, Jeffrey Pfeffer,

"power is the last dirty word in business"

This means most people don't want to acknowledge it, talk about it or even admit wanting it. Quoting Pfeffer again, "Get over it!"

Here are fundamental observations for the (discrete) power seeker. The first step is to build your primary (or personal power). Having "in your face" or executive presence style power is essential to building and holding organizational power (topic for next time).

The Primer on Power (start with you)

Power starts with your thinking habits. Such as:

  • The game-face matters. You can be more powerful by prepping yourself emotionally with what’s at stake and why it’s OK to go for it.
  • Rehearsal of 4-5 ways of saying what needs to be done. Plus the intro and outro. That’s all you need to make a different impression that will be noticed.
  • Not all or nothing. You can pick a few pivot points and start to show power potential with low risk. This ordinarily means giving the needed push to make your boss a winner.

Deeper (don't look away or you'll stay stuck)

Tony Robins is on to something with personal power. But he doesn't seem to explain so much.

Try this: Ask yourself these questions. 

  1. I'm feeling OK and fully comfortable occupying my position and value
  2. I own my stuff. The observations, findings, intuitions that support my position.
  3. I have "permission" to show up and take chances. How's the gut check on this one?
  4. I practice. "Just wing it" is not a winning strategy!
  5. I can express a future "vision" No matter the scale, team to enterprise, the principle is the same.
  6. I can create necessary drama to energize and to motivate change. That's not the same as a rant.

Are these statements all true? What needs doing if they are not?

Power is learned. You can acquire as much as you need.  BUT, you'll need to work on it.

Reward? Competent power makes you the smartest person in the room.

Would that be OK?


Live Executive Briefing on Power

Explore the foundation of power. Your own comfort level and see demos that amplify.
December 7th 2018


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Roy Terry

Roy Terry is the founder and principal consultant for Words & Presence, a leadership training and coaching practice in Silicon Valley, California.

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