“The power gap created by hierarchical leadership results in followers not providing feedback or questioning the leader…leaving the leader isolated and the followers discontent….” Sam Adeyemi
A Power Gap is the gap that exists between a leader and their staff. This gap is caused by actions that the leader takes that drives a wedge between them and their employees. The larger the wedge, the larger the gap and the more isolated the leader becomes. Large Power Gaps result in isolation that is dangerous to the leader and to the organization! Power Gaps can create huge blind spots that can cause the leader and the organization to stumble, fall or even be destroyed.
A number of years ago, I reported to a leader whose philosophy was to lead by title only. He felt that because he had a leadership title that he could bark out orders and everyone would just do what he commanded. It was so bad that he rarely even came into the office and, when he did, he rarely spent any time trying to get to know his staff and understand the business. He just barked orders and expected people to do what he said.
This understandably drove huge wedges between he and his staff. These huge wedges created a huge Power Gap and this leader was; constantly surprised by events, inundated with problems, derailed by lack of support, and, ultimately, he was destructive to the business.
After about eighteen months of this behavior, he was removed from the organization.
Power Gaps can result in massive problems with your leadership ability and in your business. How can you tell if your Power Gap is too large?
Your Power Gap is too large if;
- You are frequently surprised by news from your staff
- Your employees don’t seem to care about the business
- Your employees are disengaged at work
- Productivity is low
- Internal initiatives frequently fail to gain momentum and fizzle out quickly
- You set a direction for your business or embark on an initiative only to find out that there is a major problem with the idea that everyone knew about except for you
You know you have a low Power Gap if:
- You frequently get feedback from your employees . . . positive and negative
- You have an open door policy that is recognized by all levels of your organization
- Your staff are engaged at work and frequently volunteer to lead initiatives
- Your vision, mission, values and goals are well understood by the organization and everyone is aligned in working to fulfill them
- Your staff feel empowered to solve problems before they spiral out of control
If you have determined your Power Gap is too large, you can easily lower the gap by;
- Listening to your employees every at opportunity
- Building a system to collect feedback and questions from your staff. This system should allow for you to respond to the questions and feedback in a way that all employees can see the interactions.
- Buying lunch for a different group of employees once a week and solicit their feedback and answer their questions
- Encouraging an open door culture within your business. Be open to employees wanting to talk with you and your leaders.
- Publishing a monthly newsletter that describes the business activities for the past month and the upcoming activities.
- Always communicating your vision, mission, values and goals at every opportunity
- Flattening out your leadership hierarchy. If you are a top heavy organization, get rid of unnecessary roles.
- Meeting monthly with your whole organization for a short update meeting followed by some snacks and beverages
Finally, don’t get complacent when your Power Gap is perceived as small. A small gap can still result in a disconnect with your leadership or within your organization that can cause a lot of damage. Continuously work through the 8 items above and strive to shrink your Power Gap.
Take some time this week and do a Power Gap analysis for yourself and your organization. Are there things that you need to change in your organization and in your leadership that will lower your Power Gap?
“People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.” Theodore Roosevelt
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