Archimedes, an ancient Greek mathematician, once said: “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”
This quote illustrates the principle of leverage. In both physics and engineering, leverage is a force amplifier.
Leverage is also a force amplifier in leadership. The “force,” in this case, is our leadership impact.
Often, leverage is thought of in a negative sense, as in coercing someone or putting them under duress.
But, as with many principles, there are two sides to the coin. The concept itself is neutral. It becomes positive or negative depending on how we apply it.
What are some positive ways we can use this amplifier? And what are some cautions?
Influence – Leadership is influence. Using this to communicate vision, inspiration, and positive persuasion toward healthy outcomes is one of the most important responsibilities that leaders have.
Resources – Good leaders regularly leverage finance, technology, and human capital to create opportunities for growth and success. Applied correctly, these resources empower, drive innovation and amplify productivity.
Networking – Strong leaders build strong relationships. A pillar of networking is the mutual benefit gained by investing time building trust based connections. Leaders who are not regularly meeting new people and building their networks do themselves a disservice.
Growth – Investing in the development of individuals, teams and organizations is a great way to amplify your impact. Training, mentoring, and coaching are popular these days, and we can leverage our influence to empower others, enhance their skills, and unlock their potential.
Change – Constant change is a part of modern leadership. Using our influence to navigate change, address concerns, and provide resources and support, we can lead our teams through these inevitable changes toward success on the other side.
Manipulation – As leaders, we have authority and power. If you rely on these to force compliance or intimidate others to do your bidding you’ve gone too far. Only the weakest leaders rely on their positional authority to achieve desired outcomes.
Selfishness – Are you prioritizing your own success, advancement, or financial gain over the well-being and development of your team? If so, that is a big, bright red flag. If you have this tendency, it may help to view yourself as a steward rather than an owner. Even if you are the owner.
Favoritism – Do you want to decrease morale, motivation, and undermine collaboration and productivity? Great! Just play favorites. People spot this a mile away. They may tolerate it because they need the job, but it won’t serve your leadership well over the long run.
Information Flow – Years ago I worked with someone who intentionally withheld important information and manipulated it selectively to try and climb the ladder. Once this became clear, they had to find another ladder. They weren’t on my ladder any longer.
Demands – Sometimes inadvertently, we can create excessive workload, unreasonable expectations, or end up treating people poorly in our quest to get things done. High standards are healthy, but do a gut check if you feel relentless pressure to push harder and harder.
Accountability – Do you find yourself using your authority to shift blame, evade consequences or avoid scrutiny for your decisions? If so, you’ve crossed another line. People respect leaders who stand behind their decisions are accountable for their actions.
How are you doing in each of these areas?
A great way to keep growing is to invite honest feedback from a trusted friend.
Our influence and impact are too important to allow blind spots to hold us back.