Power of One

The Power of One: One Powerful Way to Influence the Organization

Is one really the loneliest number? Harry Nilsson may have gotten it right when it comes to writing a sad love song, but not when it comes to boldly influencing the organization. Power

What’s that? Are we saying that one person has the power to inspire the entire organization?  

Yes, we are. Here’s how. 

Leadership is the power of one harnessing the power of many.”
— John C. Maxwell 

In an HBR article aptly called, “How One Person Can Change the Conscience of an Organization,” authors Nicholas W. Eyrich, Robert E. Quinn, and David P. Fessell assert that on the deepest level, we humans need to contribute to the greater good.  

And yes, obviously, one doesn’t need to read a top business journal to know that. After all this “every person for themself” business is exactly what has gotten this world into the mess it currently is.  

Thing is, though, not everyone sees that. Calling it out therefore seems important. 

Eyrich, Quinn and Fessell go on, “When a leader [at any level], skillfully brings a voice and a vision, others will follow and surprising things can happen—even culture change on a large scale.” 

The Far-Reaching Effects of “Just” One Leader Power

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself.
When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

—Jack Welch 

The impact that “just” a single leader can have on others is staggering. It’s this focus on the good of the collective over that of the individual, in fact, that makes Bolder leaders so inspirational. It’s also why we’ve written so often on the importance of emphasizing the “we” – not the “me.”  

When we focus on self-seeking ends (like, unfortunately, some modern-day “leaders” (quotes here because we are generous by even naming them as such lol)), the results – as we all have experienced – are often tragic. Millions of displaced people, families torn apart, basic human rights stripped are among some of the disastrous consequences of large-scale self-will-run-riot. And the list of consequences to these consequences – chain reactions as it were – goes on and on. Self-centeredness thereby becomes a (poisonous) gift that keeps on giving. 

Yet there is another path we can take. When we leverage our role and practice conscious leadership by consciously choosing to live higher-level values and to inspire others to do the same, our positive influence ripples out, touching people in meaningful ways. Take, for example, the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. Less than one month after the country’s worst peacetime shooting, she introduced swift and sweeping gun law reforms, likely saving countless lives and the broken hearts of many others. The chain reaction her choice induced is incomparable to the one described above. 

And while, yes, both examples cited here may not be directly relevant to the average reader of this article, they nonetheless show how our role-modeling as individual leaders creates a chain reaction which can either help the world – or hinder it.  

The choice of how we show up, what we focus on and what we put out in the world is always ours. 

So, how can we effectively transform our leadership to inspire our teams, our organizations? It’s quite simple: start with conscious leadership. Think of this as a deep, continual process that ultimately brings the best of our inner selves out into the world of form, so that we can create the greatest impact as we inspire those around us. 

Sounds ideal, right? But how in the world do we go about implementing it?  

Below are some practical strategies.  

5 Strategies for Any Single Leader to Have a Lasting Impact: Power

1)  Put self-care first. Having grown up in a church which taught me that thinking of myself first was selfish, that old version of me may not even have included this particular tip here. However, several bouts of burnout and of pushing good people and opportunities away all because I wasn’t grounded in my best self have shown me otherwise: the better I take care of myself, the better I can be there for others.   

We can’t give what (as we say in parts of my home state Kentucky) we ain’t got. It really is as simple as that. True transformation starts within. We can only cultivate the mental soil needed to lead transformation by stepping away to take care of ourselves. This isn’t just a luxury – it is a requirement for every BOLDER leader. 

2) Use your privilege of being a leader wisely. This means supporting and lifting up those who may have less clout or visibility. While starting with Top Teams is most often our recommendation, transformation isn’t always a singular, “top down” process. Indeed, leaders at all levels can make a conscious choice to influence positive change. When we use our position of privilege to lift others up, we inspire an entire culture of inclusivity and growth.  

3) Infuse empathy into everyday interactions. Not only is it just the right thing to do, but more than ever, our world NEEDS empathy. In an age where the “new normal” feels anything but, we need to be patient and compassionate– with ourselves and others. When we approach others authentically to help them feel valued and understood, the organization as a whole benefits with improved teamwork, greater productivity, and a boost in morale. Moreover, by doing so, we also get to bring more meaning to our own lives and leadership.  With all the upheaval of today’s world, who wants to live without that? 

4) Be the executive…of your own brain. So often, we think of leadership as something external. Not so. By monitoring the impulses of our own minds, with practice we can get better at regulating our limiting reactions and choosing responses that will be more helpful to ourselves and others. Again, though, patience and compassion with ourselves are called for here: working through our triggers won’t happen overnight. But luckily, we’ll have lots of opportunities to practice as the inevitable, numerous challenges life throws our way 😉. After all, as we’ve said before, Bolder leadership is the perfect mix of art and science, of technique and practice. 

5) Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Yup, the unavoidable discomfort which comes with the constant change our world continually throws at us in one form or another. If the last few years have taught us anything (and if there is one thing we can all agree on…imagine that!) – it’s that change is everywhere nearly all the time 

Bolder, impactful leaders know that change is continual – and they welcome it as an opportunity for growth…even when it seems uncomfortable, frustrating, or downright painful. Embrace a change mindset – and watch how getting comfortable with discomfort can transform your leadership and life. And likely those of the people you influence as well. 

Finally, know this: no matter what things look like at this moment, we each have the power of choice. Be BOLDER today. Bolder choices lead to greater levels of impact and fulfillment through the rewards such moves promise. 

“Rarely are opportunities presented to you in a perfect way. In a nice little box with a yellow bow on top. ‘Here, open it, it’s perfect. You’ll love it.’ Opportunities – the good ones – are messy, confusing and hard to recognize. They’re risky. They challenge you.”
 —Susan Wojcicki, CEO of Youtube 

How about upping your own conscious leadership through thought-provoking leadership moves that can inspire you to lead with greater impact? Sign up for my FREE weekly Bolder Moves messages here. They’re practical, always free, and delivered fresh to your inbox each week.