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Ditch Power for Influence to Create Resilient Leadership

How one leads may be more important than where one leads

Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “The most basic human motivation is to impose our will on other people.” As nefarious as that sounds, there is some truth to it. It may not be so much that we desire to dominate others, but if we’re in a position of leadership we do get to choose which way to go. That’s appealing.

Leaders lead because they want to get somewhere. People need leaders because they want to go somewhere. That’s as true of introducing someone to a new restaurant as it is of charting the course of a company or determining where to go on vacation. Someone gets to pick the destination. Whether it’s a family, a company, a city or a nation, those in positions of leadership get to move it in the direction they believe is best. They see a better place and want to take us all there.

Implied in Nietzsche’s glum observation is the idea that how we lead people is at least as important as where we lead them. All tyrants start out as leaders, but not all leaders become tyrants. “Because I’m the boss” isn’t the most effective leadership strategy, especially in a tight job market where your best people have plenty of options. Demanding compliance is a game of diminishing returns.

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