Many talented senior executives admit to feeling a sense of powerlessness at work. But there are steps they can take to regain control, according to new research from the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®), a top-ranked global leadership education and research organization.
A sense of powerlessness is understandable “due to the nature of today’s complex matrix organizations,” says CCL researcher Vidula Bal, lead author of a new Ideas Into Action Study titled The Role of Power in Effective Leadership. “As organizations become more global, individuals must lead and manage around the world. Their teams are dispersed, and they often have to lead using influence rather than the formal unilateral decision-making authority used in days past.”
Defining power simply as “the potential to influence others,” Bal and co-author Michael Campbell at CCL’s Colorado Springs campus surveyed 260 executives about the nature of power at work. They conclude, “leaders at all levels have access to power, but that power often goes unrecognized or underutilized.” While most leaders surveyed (94 percent) rated themselves as moderately to extremely powerful at work, 41 percent indicated that they would feel more powerful if they had “more formal authority” on the job.