Are You Giving Up Your Power At Work?


Few things make employees more anxious than feeling powerless to control their destinies. The irony of this is that no one can take away an employee’s power but the employee. It turns out that employees are pretty good at tripping over themselves. Here are 10 of the many ways that you might be forking over power to others in your company.


  • Relying on your boss to make decisions that you should make: bosses don’t want to be the ones to constantly put out fires, be tie breakers, or tell you what to do. Your job is to clarify with your boss the types of decisions you can make, and then make them so he or she can focus on higher, strategic priorities.

  • Indecisiveness: If you don't provide clarity for those you work with, they will go around you, run over you, or under-cut you to get what they need. On the other hand, if you become known as someone who can make critical decisions, you’ll be seen as a trusted and respected business partner, and people will come to you for guidance.

  • Never having an opinion: You don’t have to be right all the time, but you do have to take a position most of the time. Those that never take a stand don’t count for much.

  • Taking on projects that are below your level: this temptation is particularly strong for you if you’ve just been promoted. After all, it’s easy and familiar to keep doing your old job; it’s hard and unfamiliar to do your new one. Figure out what success looks like in your new world and let go of your old ways. The people that work for you will greatly appreciate having you out of their business.

  • Presenting everything as a crisis: Many employees do this because they are impatient and want their problems solved immediately. But if you do this too much it will backfire. After all, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but if it keeps squeaking, it will eventually be replaced. Pick and choose carefully how you spend your political capital.

  • Being obsessed with corporate rules: Hey, every company needs strict rule-keepers that think squarely in the box of defined boundaries. But rules don’t give you real power. Logic, vision and purpose do. There is a big difference between saying, “this is what the policy says,” and “this is what I think is the right thing to do.” Even if the final answer is the same, the second phrase gives you more power.

  • Saying yes to everything: This compromises your ability to deliver anything excellent to anyone, eroding your power over time. Be selective about what you agree to, and then over deliver on those commitments.

  • Always talking first: Someone has to speak first, but if you are constantly speaking before you are listening, you aren’t going to be consistently forming well-rounded opinions.

  • Talking too much: Less is more. State your points concisely. The more words it takes you to get your point across, the less each word means.

  • Trying to please everyone: This is just not possible, and those that haven’t figured that out yet are probably wondering why no one ever listens to them. 

Contact Sam  /   sam@samscareertalk.com

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