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Leader’s Need for Power Kills Teamwork

Updated: May 1, 2022

If your team is underperforming, you may want to take a step back and take a hard look at your need for power. If you are one of those leaders who believes that the team's work revolves around your success, it may be a source of your underperforming team.

When teams are underperforming there is something below the surface that sucks the creativity out of any group of talented individuals.

When I initiate a process for team transformations, I take time to learn from each employee - their ideas for change, what they need from leadership, and what’s been working or not working. Team members lack the ability to “conform” to other's ideas when separated from the group and usually enjoy speaking with someone, like me, who chooses to know very little from the start. I can create a safe environment for exploration, and I can refrain from my own biases,

Leaders often don’t take time to ask hard vulnerable questions, due to time restraints, or if their concern is only about their personal success and not those of the team. These types of leaders don’t care how they get to their destination, just the fact that they get there. It will come at a cost. When people feel the need to please their power filled managers, they leave.

Underneath the large iceberg, Sigmund Freud’s psychology of the unconscious, lies fear. Then, charismatic leaders who desire power often waive the weapon of fear. “If this isn’t done by a certain day, heads will roll!" without any concern for what is needed for their individual success.

I have worked with many different genres of businesses, from small to very large and from healthcare to manufacturing. Ultimately, it’s the leader’s social and emotional intelligence that determines outcomes, as well as their coachability. Fear, when used as a weapon, will shut teams down.

In her book, Freedom from Fear, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi said, “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.”

Leaders - it’s imperative to check your power wand and put it back in the box if you want optimally performing teams.

Here are a few questions to ask your employees, one on one, if you are willing to go there:

• What skills or knowledge do you need to be successful in your role?

• What can I do to be a better leader for you?

• What ideas do you have for change that could benefit the team?

What can ACE Coaching Company and Dina Readinger, MBA, do for your Team?

Dina transforms underperforming Corporate teams by inspiring the human spirit for people, processes, and performance; increasing collaboration, accountability, and strategic execution.

Dina is an ICF Team Business Coach, coaching teams and their C-Suite leaders for over ten years with exceptional results. She has coached and consulted, pharmaceutical, biotech, healthcare, manufacturing, trading, non-profits, real estate, IT, policy, and project management teams. For further information, please visit or contact Dina at

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