How new managers become successful managers


Passing on power to your people

Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Book extract: passing on power to your people

Bob Selden looks at one element of leadership in this extract from his new book, What To Do When You Become The Boss

Power is often confused with the power of the leader and can sometimes have a negative connotation. That’s because we tend to relate power with people who seem to be using their power in a negative way. As an element of leadership, however, power should be about:

- The “power” people feel when they are able to make their own decisions about their work and the way it is done, without having to refer to an authority figure such as their manager. Some writers refer to this as “empowerment”;

- The “power” a team feels when it has achieved something above what others might have thought possible. This can often be seen within groups where there is a charismatic leader. Researchers tried to understand how Hitler could have led the German people so far astray. They said to those who had attended the rallies, “you must have felt overwhelmed by his power”. The Germans replied: “No. He made us feel powerful, as though we could achieve anything.”

The first of these types of power — empowering people by allowing them the freedom to make decisions in their area of responsibility — is one of the essential skills a new manager needs to develop.

It has three components: agreeing performance standards with each person for his or her role; delegating tasks and responsibilities to enable people to achieve their goals; and providing people with feedback on how well they have met the agreed performance expectations.

What To Do When You Become The Boss, by Bob Selden, published by Headline, is available post-free for £11.50 from The Sunday Times Bookshop on 0845 271 2134 or
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