Information and power
You will find yourself in a position of power at some point–the leader of the herd. Whether this is as a CEO, a teacher, or the person organizing a family reunion, at some point you will be in a place where you have access to information that others don’t. There is so much to say about holding power, and a herd of horses is a great study in power dynamics and communication, but we won’t go into all of that. In this instance, the point is to be mindful of the fact that you may see the full landscape from the hill you’re standing on, but remember that those around you don’t have the same view.
Just do what I tell you to do
I noticed a big shift in the leadership mindset about 20 years ago, when leaders went from operating in a “do as I tell you and don’t ask questions” approach to one that recognized that people want to understand why they are doing something. It frustrated many leaders who were used to the old way of doing things. It makes sense–people started demanding more transparency from decision makers. And that made a lot of decision makers uncomfortable. To this day, I still hear older leaders who want to pull their hair out when they have to explain the why. Frustrations aside, I think it took us to a more healthy leadership style.
How does this impact me?
You will find yourself in a place where you are a decision maker at some point. Remember that while you have the full picture, those who you are directing only see decisions being made with partial or no information. And guess what? Like a herd of horses people are really good at making up stories for themselves when they don’t have the full set of facts! Are you ready for that?
What to do?
So, you’re in a position of power with the detailed information. Try this. Communicate as much as you can to the folks sitting in the dark. Sometimes you can’t communicate all the details due to confidentiality or honoring someone’s privacy. You may have to communicate that you aren’t in a position to share all the details, but do give them what you can. They will see you are trying to communicate what you can and are helping them understand your path to a decision and the why behind it. While others may not agree, they typically will respect your decision much more.
What if I am not in charge?
How you handle having information is still important when you’re not the person in charge. If you’re curious on this situation, check out this article on 5 Ways to get Information Power Working for You.
Then there are the times when you have NO information! What should you do then? While this is geared towards career advice for young adults, I wrote a post about how to handle a situation at work when you don’t have the information.
Lastly, don’t forget that there is a time and place for all of this. Old school, yes, but sometimes you just need to put your head down and get ‘er done.