Power and Control – When Enough is Enough?

What do you think of when you hear the word “leader”? Famous leaders of countries like Julius Caesar or George Washington? Brilliant military generals like Napoleon? CEOs of multinational companies like Bill Gates?

Fortunately, you do not need to be ‘great’ like the above figures to be a leader. Leadership comes in many forms, and can be found in many places. That said, the responsibilities of a leader remain largely unchanged: a leader has to motivate his teammates to scale greater heights than they could possibly achieve as individuals.

Ironically, a team leader is unlikely to have power over his teammates in the same way a king would have authority over his subjects. Thus, some would say that the team leader has a tougher job, because not only does he have his own job to do, he must also lead his team in the right direction. In addition, he is the held liable for his teammates’ actions and mistakes.

But is it a bad thing that leaders do not have absolute power? What if a team leader did have complete control? Chances are, such a leader would be overbearing, and micromanage his teammates, forcing them to do and redo tasks until they meet his ludicrously high expectations. Such leaders make others feel unneeded and unwanted, and inhibit the growth of ideas. Thus, rather than a mass of ideas brimming with potential, everything ends up revolving around the leader, and creativity is stunted as people become afraid to voice their opinions and simply slave over their assigned tasks.

What if the reverse were true? In contrast, a leader who is too lenient may appear weak and lackadaisical, which creates other problems – because that person may be viewed as a pushover, or otherwise unqualified, the team may eventually lose confidence in the leader, and the team would lose its direction, and work less diligently and less creatively. After all, without a person with a strong will who can make tough decisions and resolve conflicts, the team will inevitably be set adrift into the hazy ocean of uncertainty.

It is therefore necessary that a team leader balances being authoritative and lenient when carrying out his duties. However, what then is the ideal balance? We would compare a good leader with a willow tree- flexible like the trunk of a willow tree, able to adapt according to his teammates’ needs, yet strong like its roots, able to be firm when necessary. Like a willow tree, such a team leader would be able to ferry his team through tempestuous times.

Though it is not easy to strike such a balance, which often involves a great deal of trial and error, with time and experience it can be done. If anything, the process can be accelerated through the use of team building activities, where real life challenges are simulated in a safe, controlled environment. So fret not if you are not the perfect team leader. Take every opportunity to learn, and be sure that in time you will soar and excel.