Use Authority Judiciously

You manage an important project, region, product-line or department for your organization. You are responsible for results. Your organization has given you the authority to allocate resources, deploy work, demand results, reward and recognize. They have also given you the power to confront and discipline, your team members, suppliers, and channel partners when needed. How should you wield this sword of authority?

The idea of “The Sheathed Sword” was first propounded by Sun Tzu, a Chinese philosopher, some 2300 years ago! What it implies is

“A smart leader confronts, only after being sure of achieving the desired outcome (through advance preparation). In contrast, an inept leader confronts first and then wonders, how do I achieve the desired outcome?”

In recent times, this idea has considerable great popularity, amongst strategists and management gurus as well as novelists, filmmakers video game designers and so on. Reckon, the counterintuitive nature of the idea makes it so appealing.

Now back to the question, how should you wield your sword of authority? Let us say

Step 1 Take a detached helicopter view of the situation and visualize PPA (Potential Problem Areas), using your own experience and imagination.
Step 2 Engage stakeholders in the PPA. Influence them to address the PPA, proactively.
Step 3 After most of the PPAs have been addressed, approach the confrontation, without confronting. Give the other side the choice of stepping back, after seeing your preparedness.

There will be situations where you need to confront your team member or a supplier or a channel partner or maybe even a customer. Try, the above three step approach.

You will win, with your sword sheathed!

– by Ravi Santhanam for Zeus

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