How To Give Away Power And Get Back Results

Rowan Blair Colver
6 min readOct 26, 2020


Lucid Leadership by Rowan B. Colver

Take Responsibility And Take Control

We all like to feel in control, especially of our little bubble. It’s true that having a hands-on approach is best, elbow deep and knee-deep are the only ways to get a true feel of what we are doing. We’re not the only ones. There comes a point where we work not just as one person on a mission but as part of a larger unit. This unit may have a different purpose to your individual one, with your personal contribution making only a part of what is universally required.

Leadership In Context

You may be the leader of the unit or just a part of it doing work independently from direct control. Whether it's your group of friends, a family you live with, or people you work with, this unit requires you to be an effective part of it. We are not in control of this entire unit or every larger-scale unit above that. We can only have our say from our perspective. How can we say the things that matter most and get back the most? It’s about giving people their power back.

Part of the social contract means that we naturally offer our intentions, directions, opinions, thoughts, and feelings up for acceptance or scrutiny. We tend to either express them in a forward-facing way as if we urge another to agree with us, usually either by sounding judgemental or upset, or we express them in a questioning way — as if we want to feel validated or soundly put right. Try to avoid loading the information with either side of this balance.

Big Rules And Little Rules

People can also transplant rules from one setting into another. Perhaps when a person was growing up they had to knock before entering a room with an adult in. This person may then do the same when at their friend’s house without the need to, much to the surprise of the people there. We give people power like this without realising a lot, and when someone does this to you, we can give it back to them. Always be prepared to let someone know they have wider boundaries than they are allowing themselves.

There are more subtle ways this situation happens too. The conversation dynamic, especially between employer and employee, can be unbalanced. By treating people in empowering ways we not only encourage better performance, we also create a purposeful meaning to their efforts with the least resistance. Here are some pointers that help us to give people back their power.

You Have To Include Everyone

Inclusivity matters, we all want to feel listened to and have our perspectives seriously appreciated. This doesn’t just benefit us as an individual, it also builds a much bigger picture of the true situation. We can insist all we want but it’s impossible to change the way another person feels about and sees that same situation. By listening to and taking on board the pointers brought to us by everyone involved, we can make a much more effective and usable plan of operation.

Look Outward Not Inward

Try to focus on the world at large and not just the micro-environment between team members. The echo-chamber principle means we can sometimes get lost in a narrow perspective that’s continually reinforced by a relatively small number of like-minded sources. Common themes and running jokes can convert into what is perceived as one-dimensional, bullying, and reactionary material among other things. Break the clique and spread the contents of the egg across the world at large. Allow it to be soaked in. The more or the world you can touch and feel, the more of the world you can be effective in.

It’s Not All Go — Wait A Little For Better Results

People are like teapots. We have to let them brew for a bit before we get the best infusion. Put the right ingredients in, add energy, then wait. We all need time to let the mental tide come in a few times before the new strata are laid down. Getting things in the right place in our head doesn’t come easily, especially when it’s something that involves complexity like other people. No rush and no worry, just let things happen at their natural pace. This doesn’t mean letting go of targets and goals, we need to remain active, it’s all about balance.

Nurture Passion To The Point Of Clashing

We all care about different things and we care about them in different ways. There are usually common themes that run through our cares, based on the moral stance offered by society and culture as much as our personal feelings on a subject. By nurturing the passion people have for their own unique set of cares and their universal sense of what is right and proper, we can find a place where our ideals start to test those of other people. By discovering these friction points, we can set aside time and space to allow these to naturally fit into the way the team operates and views its direction.

Allow For Personal Ideas To Flourish

Sometimes letting a part of our team go off on a tangent because they have a great idea is a really good thing. Their unique efforts could just result in a brand new pathway that others walk. When it’s a personal project and within the realms of what the team is already aiming for, these sidelines can work to reinforce the general theme and direction. Making sure that the end results fall in line with the universally required results can be a matter of open discussion.

Learn From The World At Large

There are all kinds of systems in place running right now. A lot of these have not changed much in centuries. The way people organise each other and the incentives that guide our actions have been there since we lived in tribes. Instead of looking at other ideas as opposed to your own, see how they can be adapted to fit or connected to your own. We can’t just steal intellectual property and face-to-face likeness but we can apply the thought behind it to our own projects. By learning about the things you want to achieve you can see how other people already achieve them and use their methods as working examples. Take inspiration from the sea of genius that surrounds you.

Be A Figurehead of Excellence

Don’t saunter around with your nose in the air or stomp about demanding effectiveness, but go about your prescribed duties in a calm and collected manner. Always offer a cheerful persona and an eagerness to complete the task, see to it that things are done to the best of your ability and always take your time. By being a relaxed pace-setter, we can be effective workers and a safe leader that people will respond to. Psychological safety means that we offer an atmosphere in which others feel comfortable to be themselves.

Get Comfortable With Everyone’s Perspective

We can’t really appreciate things from another point of view until we have seriously considered them. It might seem like they have less work to do or that their job seems irrelevant, or any other unhelpful thing. Until we have seen the task from their eyes, we never appreciate the true extent of what they are being asked to do. When we can appreciate the tasks at hand not just for you but for all of the group, we can balance our demands and requirements to more realistic levels.

Clear Boundaries

It might seem counter-intuitive to set boundaries and give back power. Indeed, telling someone what not to do is taking their power away. Then again, look at your showerhead. When you turn the nozzle and close off some of the holes, the pressure goes up. The water becomes more effective at cleaning. We have not taken power away but funnelled it into a more useful flow. This is what good boundary setting can do to a great team.

What other factors spring to mind when reading this list? Comments are always welcome.

Rowan Blair Colver is the Editor of Homunculus Media



Rowan Blair Colver

Music writer and humanities educator from Sheffield in England. Democracy of philosophy, comments are welcome.