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  Ask Dr. Karen - February 1

Dr. Karen -

The need to balance power, achievement and relationships is a concept that I can agree with. As a young woman on the side of continuing to strive to achieve, I am trying to rely on my own experiences where it is imperative that I am able to manage the relationships to gain the power. It is within this phase of the process that I find the most challenging. Have you considered how the Leader Member Exchange Theory (LMX) might apply? Perhaps it is within a female’s ability to manage the relationship, whether it is a higher or lower level relationship in which she will eventually gain the power. Depending on her view, the method used to overcome the potential obstacle (the relationship) the "iron maiden" may be the resulting tool used to gain power. I am interested to find out your perspective.

Thank you for your time and the interesting discussion topic.

Alicia

Dear Alicia,

The Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) is very much about the reciprocal relationship between leaders and followers. What I find is that followers have the ability to change the relationship if they so choose. They can subtly change the rules. There are different kinds of power in relationships. Anything can be a kind of power including rule setting, manipulation and nagging. I don’t recommend these power tools often used by subordinates in power. There are more tools in your power tool kit.

In observing leaders who understand power, they network heavily not just for reflected power but also to get and give information. Your network is the most powerful tool in your toolkit. As in LMX, you’re becoming part of, even at the fringe, of the core group in an organization. (See The Core Group… by Art Kleiner) You do this through asking opinions and bringing information to others to discuss. The organization/department’s inner circle is nice but not the only way. There are other important members of the core group, even some staff figures who have clout like whoever is in charge of executive staffing and placement.

Iron Maiden is a role to play once in a while but is NOT a great way to the top except temporarily. Those who thought Maggie Thatcher was the iron maiden are not seeing the big picture. She was “Matron” at a boy’s prep school in the U K. She told her inner circle and her public what to do in a very British manner that they respected until she got out of hand. When a woman fits into a recognized role it makes reacting to them easier for their followers. The old thinking that a woman can be only a “wife, mother, girlfriend or daughter” is too short a list. You have to look at the bigger picture in the organization.

The “iron maiden” doesn’t have enough stretch for re-inventing yourself. What about resiliency and grace? That doesn’t mean you have to curry favor but you need to be kind to everyone. (See my first book on Managing Your Career). Just like voting for a president, likeability is important. You need to pick your iron maiden moments.

Karen

 

 

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