Transforming The Leadership Paradigm From Power Over To Power With

Updated: Mar 4, 2020

Have you ever experienced “Sunday Night Dread?" If you aren’t familiar with Sunday Night Dread, it’s the experience of having elevated anxiety on Sunday in anticipation of Monday. A recent study by The Sleep Judge, an organization dedicated to helping people get a good night sleep, found that 81% of respondents have experienced this dread of Monday, with 95% attributing it to work stress. It’s a pretty widespread phenomena, even if the name for it is new on the scene.

This speaks to the current leadership paradigm and workplace culture of expressing power over those further down the corporate ladder. Leaders set the tone in any organization, starting in the C-Suite.

The current, but outdated leadership model is one of leading by instilling fear into their people, squeezing out every last drop of productivity for profit, constant pressure to perform at a sprints’ pace with total disregard for the reality that humans need ebb and flow to their work pace (because they are human -- not machines or robots), adding on more responsibilities without adding more job satisfaction, and are controlling in how the job gets done.

A recent poll on my Instagram account showed that 78% of employees have felt bullied, been made to feel small, or been made fun of by a leader in their organization. 89% said they've felt intimidated after sharing an idea during a meeting. As leaders, we have the authority and responsibility to change this!

It's on us to shift the leadership paradigm to make people feel safe, heard, and valued.

This toxic leadership model is having a significant negative impact on today’s workplace. In Stanford professor Jeffery Phfeffer’s recent book, Dying for a Paycheck, he states, "the workplace is the 5th leading cause of deaths in the US, higher than Alzheimer's or kidney disease."

Pfeffer cites the mismanagement of workforces causes more than 120,000 deaths a year and accounts for 5-8% of annual healthcare costs by creating conditions such as excessive work hours, lack of health insurance, work-family conflict, and lack of control and autonomy.

Pause for a moment to let that really sink in -- mismanagement of workforces causes more than 120,000 deaths a year.

We can and must do better. This type of leadership is no longer producing the results that it used to. It’s no longer acceptable to treat people this way and does far more harm than good.

As a result, there’s a revolt happening in the workplace. The youngest generation to enter the workforce, Gen Z, is leading the way in the new trend of ghosting (disappearing, never to be heard from again) in the recruiting process, the job offer itself, the first day of work or will even simply stop showing up to work when they’ve decided their done.

This trend has exploded over the last 2 years. A recent study showed 83% of employers have experienced being “ghosted” by a job candidate who either didn’t show up for an interview or stopped replying to hiring managers entirely. Leaders’ frustrations levels are sky-high as the lack of loyalty companies have been showing employees are now being returned in spades.

Employees deal with the stress of awful bosses and toxic work environments with destructive behaviors like excessive drinking (have you ever noticed how drinking is glorified in a lot of work cultures?), overeating or over indulging in harmful foods (that explains why there are always donuts and candy in the office!), not getting enough sleep or exercise. This way of living and doing business is not sustainable and new evidence to support it is happening daily.

Leaders have a real impact on the quality of human lives. Whether it’s the front line supervisor all the way up to the President of the United States, one person has a significant impact when they hold a position of leadership of authority and power.

If leaders want to see different behaviors from their candidates and employees, they need to start showing up and leading in different ways.

This is not an overnight fix. Shifting an entire paradigm of leadership and workplace culture is going to take time, effort and commitment, but it's only then that we’ll see the much needed change in the modern workplace.

In my last post, I covered the Five Fundamental Shifts Needed in Leadership Right Now, including some tangible actions that you can take starting today to start to direct that pendulum from frustration to the sweet spot of loyalty & healthy workplace culture. Today I’m going to let you in on a secret: the change starts with you. You are responsible for turning the ship around and creating an environment where people can thrive. But how?

Here are 10 tactics you can implement today to start creating a culture of empathy & understanding; one that breeds loyalty, positivity, and productivity.

Here are 10 ways you can levelup your leadership:

  1. Articulate your vision and flow information rather than withhold it,

  2. Honestly value your people for who they are as well as for what they do,

  3. Invest in your people in a holistic, multidimensional way,

  4. Fully communicate clear and achievable expectations,

  5. Authentically express gratitude and appreciation on a regular basis,

  6. Hold people accountable through effective training and coaching,

  7. Recognize and celebrate a job well done as well,

  8. Respond to failures as measurements of progress,

  9. Show compassion and empathy everyday,

  10. Inspire greatness and motivate individuals to grow by connecting the meaning & purpose behind their work.

There's a real sense of urgency for leaders to adopt this shift and start taking intentional action immediately. We are heading for an economic downturn in which many businesses will not survive. Those who have built strong cultures and have truly invested in their teams, processes and infrastructure will have a much easier time weathering the storm than those who continue to operate in the old paradigm.

While there is certainly a lot of work in front of us to turn things around, there is good news:

Shifting towards a culture of appreciation and contribution feels a lot better than the current cultures of blame and shame. It fills us instead of depletes us.

When things are clicking and in alignment, even hard work can energize you because even though you’ve given all you’ve got, you are left feeling nourished and satisfied as a reflection of how your team feels.

When we can lay our head on the pillow at night knowing we’ve worked smart and given a good day’s effort; that we’ve been seen, valued and appreciated; that our pay reflects our value and contribution; when we feel tended to as a whole; we can rest well knowing that we’ve arrived in the sweet spot of great leadership and workplace culture.

Now that you know what’s not working and what needs to shift, it’s time to apply this new knowledge and put it into action. Reminder: You will mess up. You will say or do the wrong thing. Don’t let it stop you. Keep going. Keep learning. Keep practicing. Keep #levelingupyourleadership

If you are a leader who believes in the Power With leadership model and would like regular practical tips and action to take with a sprinkle of inspiration, consider joining my FREE Greatness tribe of other leaders who are bravely leading where few have dared to go before them. You’ll receive new paradigm leadership tips reserved just for my tribe delivered straight to your inbox.

As a free gift and a way to turbo boost your leveling up, you’ll get access to Ask, Don’t Tell: Your guide to asking better questions for better results, perfect for the leader who is challenged by employees not doing what they’ve been asked to do.

It’s easier to make massive shifts when you aren’t going it alone. Know someone who needs to read this article? Share it with them. Encourage them to join the tribe too!

In Service To Your Greatness,


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