Positive Power vs. Acquired Authority

positive power authority

Which is which?

I want to talk about positive power and acquired authority and why it’s important to know the difference. When we think of leadership in the workplace, we think of those with a manager, supervisor, or executive title. But a continuous problem I see is most managers don’t really understand the positive power they possess. This power plays a huge part in improving the lives of those around them. I’m sure we have all been at an organization where we loved our job and our coworkers, but management was sub-par, or dare I say, awful. You’re picturing the place and that manager right now, aren’t you? So, what IS the difference?

Acquired authority is the title that allows you to:
  • Hire and terminate
  • Give pay upgrades
  • Shift people on projects
  • And improve or change processes

Positive power is how you’re leaving people feeling in your presence. Do you leave them feeling heard, uplifted, and valued? People like to know that the work they do is meaningful in their space and that everything they’re doing points to a vision, a bigger mission that drives the organization forward.

The Impact

Many managers and people with leader titles don’t actually understand that positive power has a bigger long-term impact. You change the lives of the families of those that are in your workplace when you uplift them. Have you ever noticed that your mood is positive at home when you have a great day at work? Or, if you have a bad day on the job, it often goes home with you? When you recognize, empower, and help move individuals forward in their journey, it can really change their life.

The acquired authority that you have to move a project, stop a process, alleviate some kind of thing in the workplace or even give somebody more money, less money or put them on a project team is all great. But if you don’t counterbalance that with the positive power you possess, you’re eliminating the opportunity to care about longevity, the legacy you create.

Be The Change

When you consider the whole person, when you create a safe space, when you make sure that your people are heard; you uplift them. You become an important factor in helping them move along in their journey and give away all you have as a leader with heart. So, if you want to be a caring leader, release your grasp on the acquired authority you possess. Instead, lean into your positive power.

196: Leaders with Heart are Servant Leaders

servant leader lauren software

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In this episode, Heather sits down with Lauren Fitzpatrick Shanks, Creator, and CEO of KeepWOL, an experiential talent development platform that maximizes cultural intelligence in the workplace. Keep Wondering Out Loud (KeepWOL) is a verified, measurable, and cost-effective talent development platform that fosters inclusion within remote, hybrid, and in-person teams. They use a digital library of live multiplayer games, to enable guided immersive experiences that develop employees and cultivate engagement. Hear all about Lauren’s journey to get to where she is today.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Elevating the human experience boosts productivity
  • Inclusion requires all parties to partake in the conversation
  • Lack of connection breeds low morale
  • Creating safe spaces requires communication and connection
  • KeepWOL makes the conversations a two-way street
People forget they have two ears and one mouth. So we should listen more than we speak. – Lauren Fitzpatrick Shanks #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

With more than a decade of experience working at 5 different Fortune 500 companies plus being a black millennial woman in engineering & tech, Lauren understands from a personal and professional level what keeps employees engaged and wanting to stay at a company. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering and an MBA in Operations Management. But at her core, she’s a curious, and at times overly transparent, conversationalist with a superpower of getting others to break down their fear of vulnerability and feel comfortable sharing as well. The combination of her strengths led her to create Keep Wondering Out Loud or, as she likes to call it, KeepWOL.

Powered by Software, Driven by Humans

We like to say that we’re powered by software but driven by humans. Sadly, many people get fixated on the data and metrics coming in and not the impact on the people. Although my background is in engineering, numbers are a science, and you can make numbers show what you want them to show. Data can be manipulated to make something look better than it actually is. It’s the stories that tell the truth. So with KeepWOL, or Keep Wondering Out Loud, we wanted to focus on storytelling and really understanding the individuals. Although there will always be an emphasis on the numbers because numbers drive the bottom line, the individuals are just as important.

servant leadership sofware

195: Leaders with Heart Make Businesses with Heart

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In this episode, Heather sits down with Shafik Mina, President and Co-Owner of the Mad Science® Group and Co-Founder of 2inspireTM and Crayola® Imagine Arts Academy TM. Shafik’s company wants to inspire kids and get them interested in science, all while making it fun. He claims that they are “a business with heart” that wants to inspire children through science, and spark lifelong imagination and curiosity. Take a listen!

Key Takeaways: 

  • Many schools have cut back on their funding for Arts
  • Shafik sees Arts as the key concepts of what will differentiate people in future workplaces
  • Their goal is to inspire kids through science and spark curiosity
  • They work hard to be a business with Heart
  • Leaders have a responsibility to those they lead
We decided to create an art program that uses art techniques to teach kids concepts that we think will be differentiators in the future. – Shafik Mina #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Shafik Mina is a serial entrepreneur, President, and Co-Owner of the Mad Science® Group and Co-Founder of 2inspireTM and Crayola® Imagine Arts Academy TM. Mina joined Mad Science Group as in-house counsel in June of 2009. In 2012 he was named President, and in 2016 he became Co-Owner.

Outside of his career, Shafik is a business mentor and a value investor for a handful of innovative startups and a dynamic presenter on a variety of business topics.

Shafik started his career at 19 by successfully launching and operating two companies in the food industry. Before joining Mad Science, he earned his law degrees and practiced at a top-tier national Canadian law firm. Shafik holds a Bachelor’s Degree with Honors in Political Science, a Juris Doctorate in Common Law, and a Bachelor in Civil Law. Lastly, he is a member of the Quebec Bar and the Law Society of Upper Canada.

Helping Kids Foster Creativity

Mad Science™ and Crayola® Imagine Arts Academy are the world’s leading children’s enrichment programs, and they are doing things a little differently.

Mina has been passionate about this business since he joined the Mad Science team in 2009. Mina believes that today’s kids are not developing the critical motor, language, social, and decision-making skills required in today’s world. In addition, due to chronic underfunding, creativity and innovation are rarely taught in the classroom today. This is despite 72% of business leaders saying that creativity is the number one skill they seek when hiring.

Imagine Arts Academy is a partnership with Crayola™ and Mad Science™. Together, they have developed programs that combine traditional art with real-world applications and creative problem-solving. As a result, these programs have proven to help kids foster the creativity required for today’s world.

heart business science kids

Good-bye silos: Hello employee engagement!

employee engagement silos

I recently reflected on the time a few years ago when my dog had surgery. They put this cone or “halo” on her head to minimize access to the incision.

Ever seen an animal with this on?

It’s really sad.

As I walked behind her, I thought about her limited field of view.

How often do we also have this same limitation inside our organizations?

The problem.

I call this, “Silomania.” Silos destroy the trust that binds people and teams together. A silo is a “system, process, department, etc. that operates in isolation from others.” This means that you are alone.

Oftentimes, this is how employees feel. Organizations are organized so that employees are in isolation from one another. When this exists, they are all like my dog with the cone on her head. They have limited vision, and focus much of their time on what is right in front of them. Their department and their work is their main concern.

With this frame of reference, employees cannot understand one another’s strife, because they don’t spend time together. They are unable to see how they can work together to overcome business issues since they are too bogged down with their own departmental baggage. This is the silomania mindset that destroys trust and innovation.

Employees don’t feel vested in organizational or team success, and thus lose their motivation to do more than what is expected. This is disengagement.

Another example of “silomania” I see all too often is when leaders push forward incentives that drive their teams further apart. I find that often teams work better when working towards a shared goal rather than personal gain. When leaders encourage incentives that motivate the individual rather than the team, they have effectively placed metaphorical cones over each of their team member’s heads. Now everyone is isolated once again.

The solution.

Below are 4 ways you can eradicate silos from your workplace and drive increased engagement:

1. Opportunities to collaborate cross-functionally

Do you create opportunities for employees to collaborate cross-functionally?

One of the most effective ways to promote teamwork instead of silos is to create opportunities for diverse teams to work together to solve organizational issues. Action learning is a great tool to accomplish this. There are many ways to do this.

Curate opportunities for your people to connect for the benefit of your organization.

2. Create more open workspaces

Most organizations have lovely offices with doors and walls that separate teams. While this is necessary for some spaces, organizations need to configure work spaces that foster cross-collaboration and open discussion.

How is your work space configured? Have you asked your employees how they feel about their work space? Do they feel that it is limiting or expanding? This is even more important as we look at remote and hybrid environments. How are you designing more openness into their day?

Ask them. Then, work with them to improve their work space to elevate their experience.

3. Team-build across teams

I know that team-building gets a bad wrap, but it does serve a good purpose. In the context of employee engagement, cross-functional team building packs a great punch, because it builds bonds between teams. These bonds drive employees to do more and be more for their co-workers.

When organizational leaders are most inclusive in their team-building, they break down siloes and strengthen the bonds of trust.

4. Promote team-based recognition and incentives

One of the best ways to break down the narrow thinking that exists inside of organizations is to promote team-based recognition.

After you create cross-functional collaborative environments, build in rewards for team-derived results. This will elevate the importance of teams inside your organization and give employees another reason to love coming to work.

It is within teams that real innovation takes place. Involving a diverse set of employees in “mastermind-type” groups builds organizational muscle. Creating more open spaces makes teamwork more natural. Team-building across teams creates stronger bonds and curating team-based recognition highlights your organization’s focus on the larger team.

In what ways has your organization promoted collaboration and teamwork and stomped out those horrible silos?

194: Leaders with Heart Really Care for Them

leaders really care for them
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In this episode, Heather sits down with Mareo for the second time to discuss his new book and what it’s all about. His book, Really Care for Them, is all about changing the way sales is done. Mareo’s full-time job is the Revenue Leader for the software firm Movemedical where he leads the Customer Success, Sales, and Marketing divisions. He’s had over 15 years of experience in sales. He’s very interested in the intersection of organizational health, individual success/performance, revenue, and how they all interact with each other. By focusing on those three things and how they connect he feels that he will add the most unique value to the people he interacts with. He believes sharing knowledge is the second half of learning, and he reads over 100 books a year!

Key Takeaways: 

  • Everyone is a salesperson
  • Sales should be focused on the customer
  • Showing people you care will create positive results
  • Sharing your knowledge is caring
Everything you do has an intention behind it, and that intention can be felt by the customer. – Mareo McCracken #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Mareo loves learning and teaching. His full-time job is Revenue Leader for the software firm Movemedical where he leads Customer Success, Sales, and Marketing. His other passions include his family, sports, reading, and eating. His topic of interest is the intersection of organizational health, individual success/performance, and revenue. By focusing on those three things and how they connect he feels that he will add a unique value to the people he interacts with. He believes sharing knowledge is the second half of learning. Mareo earned a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from Brigham Young University and then went on to earn a Master of Science at the University of San Diego School of Business.

A Different Outlook

So, when I started to put this book together, I didn’t want to be an author or write a book. I didn’t plan for it to happen. It was really organic. People kept asking me, “What’s the one book I should read in sales?” It was always different for everybody’s situation. So I wanted to fix that and write one book that anyone could read as the foundational piece early on in their career. That’s how this book came about. I couldn’t recommend just one book, so I wrote one that I believe has the collective wisdom I’ve learned over the last 15 or 16 years in sales. Therefore I took all my notes and compiled them into the 99 most important ideas, and now I hope to share them with the world.

care really leader them


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Lastly therefore whereas first because

The Bright Side of Leadership

bright side frame leadership
The Bright Side

A month or so ago, I was watching a professional soccer match with my youngest son. Neither team won, but they worked their tails off in the process. I recall listening to one of the coaches. He had a huge smile on his face, and they hadn’t even won anything. The commentator interviewed the coach and asked about this sentiment, and the coach said something like, “It is less about the win and more about their effort and performance.”

This exchange really stuck with me. It made me think about what value I place on winning. Do you see a “tie” or a scenario of everyone winning as a loss? I learned early in my life that to move past “loser” thinking, we must use one essential tool—reframing.

I think that reframing is an undervalued strategy. What is reframing? It is learning to see the brighter side of any situation. As a leader, it is critical to learn to do this and help those we lead do the same for themselves. We all reframe. It is being intentional about reframing when we feel ourselves “losing,” sinking, or lost that makes all the difference.

Reframing Process

That professional soccer coach had the right idea. The big part of reframing is in learning. Learning to “see” things differently and for what they truly are. Here is the step-by-step process for reframing:

1. Acknowledge that the experience or situation might make you feel less than perfect or less than a “winner.” This step is crucial because we are all human and have human emotions. If we don’t, then we are like robots. No one wants to hang around with a robot. It’s alright to lean into the emotion of the situation for a short time.

2. Next, you have to say (and this can happen very quickly) that you are done with those emotions, which are often founded in irrational thoughts about what has happened to you. This is where you dump the “stinkin thinkin” and replace it with thinking that moves you and those around you forward.

3. Now, you do as the coach did in quick order. You replace the irrational “loser” words and actions with those that not only help you see the brighter side but help your team do the same. Your mindset will shift. The words you use will too, and now they can choose to emulate it.

When you are a Caring Leader, you must set out to reframe. That means to learn, lean in, and then flip the switch that says to you and to those who look to you for guidance that you won’t let a little tie or even a loss stop you. Instead, you will teach them to learn to see the brighter side of any situation that presents itself. That’s the role of the Caring Leader.

193: Leaders with Heart are Self-aware

susan schmitt self aware human resources leader
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In this episode, Heather sits down with Susan J. Schmitt Winchester, the CHO of Applied Materials. On paper, Susan has an impressive corporate success story. With over 30 years of upward trajectory, her succession of increasingly powerful roles reflects her growing influence. Her presence and career trajectory have been remarkable. But, she claims that the people who know her best know that she spent her days and years in deep fear. She now teaches executives and professionals how to succeed by discovering greater self-acceptance, fulfillment, and joy at work and in life.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Leadership requires continuous improvement
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover
  • Even the most successful people deal with internal problems
  • You are responsible and in control of how you respond
  • Getting rid of fear-based responses is life-changing
  • Recognizing your triggers allows you to control how you respond to them
You have to find the truth; that's the only way we can get better. – Susan Schmitt #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Susan Schmitt Winchester leads Human Resources for Applied Materials and its more than 20,000 global employees. She has more than 30 years of experience in HR, providing executive leadership for the function, most recently at Rockwell Automation and Kellogg Company. Her innovative mindset and commitment to excellence define her leadership style. She continually looks to meet today’s global business challenges with creative HR strategies that engage people, enable exceptional performance and support a dynamic, inclusive corporate culture. Her passion for creating value for organizations is evident, whether she is strategizing future workforce imperatives or clarifying talent assessment and development models to enable all individuals to contribute their best work.

While at Rockwell for 11 years, Susan set global strategies designed to strengthen leadership, build organizational capacity, and power the company’s business priorities. External organizations consistently recognized this work and significantly contributed to Rockwell Automation’s prestigious Catalyst Award in 2017 for the company’s innovative approach to building a culture of inclusion, being named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” for nine years. In addition, under her HR leadership, Rockwell’s inclusive practices earned a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual Corporate Equality Index for LGBT Equality and the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”

Susan is a fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources — the highest professional honor for individuals in HR. She has lived, studied, and worked in the United States, France, and England. Additionally, she earned her master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Illinois State University and her bachelor’s from Albion College in Michigan. She also attended the University of Grenoble, France. Contributing her expertise to developing future talent, she is a Leadership Advisory Board member for the Dean of Engineering at the University of Michigan. She serves as the Vice Chair in the College of Engineering, and is a member of the Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Advisory Council for the College of Engineering.

Childhood Adverse Experience

There’s research that shows that two-thirds of adults experience some negative effects in their adulthood. It’s called the adverse childhood experience, and it includes ten pretty severe things that occur. So that means two-thirds of people in the corporate world come into the workplace with these wounds that they aren’t even really aware of. Furthermore, people aren’t aware of how much it affects their daily lives. It shows up in our daily interactions with people and how we respond to triggers and conflicts. So that’s why I now focus on helping people understand that it doesn’t have to be that way.

susan schmitt human resources self aware