Tom Peters starts the chapter “Getting Things Done” by exploring the concept of power. I share his understanding that power is a “normal part of everyday life” that is essential to accomplishing goals and achieving success. True, power can have a dirty connotation and often people are uncomfortable leveraging it, but it also has potential to drive serious progress and do a whole lot of good. Peters presents a number of practical (and not at all dirty) ways that we can strategically build power (and a lot of these you’re probably doing already). Below are a few of my favorites:
- Write thank you notes. Peters believes this is so important that if you can take writing thank you notes to heart, you can (almost) throw the rest of the book away. This simple expression of genuine gratitude impacts people so positively that you won’t believe the kind of support and loyalty it can encourage.
- Recognize people. When someone does a great job, celebrate it. Everyone loves to be recognized.
- Gently remind people of your contributions. Peters tells a great story here about a manufacturer who had a long history of on time deliveries. To promote this, they added a performance score to their invoices to (gently) remind customers that they were exceeding expectations by putting the requested delivery date, the actual date, and subtracting them to show how far ahead of schedule the delivery was sent. The results were HUGE.
- Give credit to everyone. It costs you nothing and doesn’t diminish your successes in any way to acknowledge when someone else helped you get there.
- Show up. Sometimes, being in the right places makes all the difference. If you don’t show up, those opportunities will never happen. In the age of email, people notice when you schedule a meeting in person.
- Leaders back their people up. In stressful times, showing up with a pizza or rolling up your sleeves to do some of the grunt work will gain huge loyalty from your team.
- People notice the little things. If you go out of your way to address an issue that inconveniences someone, they will never forget it. Removing small hurdles often pays big dividends.
- Networking is power. Having and maintaining connections that you can call upon (and they you) when needed will infinitely increase your value to your organization.
- Solve problems quickly. Letting a problem remain unaddressed usually makes it worse. Even if it isn’t fun to do, eliminating small problems early means they won’t grow to be big problems later.
- Be nice. Don’t underestimate the power associated with being the kind of person that others want to be around.
A lot of this is practical advice, but I think many people don’t make the connections to the accumulation of power. As you become a trusted adviser that people at all levels of your organization recognize and support, it makes good sense that power will follow. This is the kind of power I want, because it is gained doing things that I’m proud to do anyway. In doing so, it can help me achieve organizational goals (and by extension my own).