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“Influencing or manipulating?”: How to build relationships with subordinates in a developing company

The task of management in any business is to achieve goals in conditions of limited resources. The manager does not always understand this, often he justifies himself or others by the fact that some conditions have not developed and resources are insufficient. This is a very common, but fundamentally wrong approach, which indicates a lack of understanding of his essence as a leader. To do so in order to achieve the result, having what is, is the purpose of the manager, whether he is a hired director or business owner.

From the understanding of this fact follows the task – to ensure the achievement of the goal (as a rule, the implementation of the plan) at any cost. And when the priority of the goal dominates, the question of means becomes secondary. This is where the fork comes for any leader: how will he achieve his goals? Which way will you choose: influence or manipulate?

What it is?

How is influence different from manipulation? Let’s see what influence is and what it is made up of. If we mean something, we influence. The leader is influenced either by the authority that he possesses, or by the nominal power that he is exposed to. Moreover, power should be legitimate, that is, recognized as subordinates. Otherwise, it will not work, no one will simply obey.

Influence can be based on the authority, expertise and legitimacy of power. If the leader is authoritative, the government is most likely legitimate. But not the other way around. When an authoritative person loses legitimacy, having lost control, lacking the necessary expertise or for some other reason, the path to manipulation is opened.

What is manipulation? The main thing how to determine it is that manipulation initially contains an element of deception. Often it becomes the salvation that the leader is forced to resort to when he loses other control levers. He does not understand how to influence his subordinates, and begins to mislead people for his own benefit. And here a trap awaits him: often the legitimacy of power is lost just because of manipulation. Even an authoritative boss, resorting to deception, runs the risk of losing the trust of his subordinates once and for all.

Sometimes this happens unknowingly. For example, when a company practices double standards. Suppose someone is allowed to come back later, and someone is reprimanded for that. Not having established clear rules of the game, for non-compliance with the rules – punished. This is also a kind of manipulation, it leads to the loss of authority of the leader. Showing different interpretations of “good and evil,” the boss grinds the branch of power on which he sits. These are very deep things that originate from childhood, so they are not always conscious. For example, when a child is punished for something, and then he sees his dad doing the same, he does not understand why he was blamed for it. And it leaves an imprint for life. Also in the company. A trick story is at the core of everything. Often the leader does not realize that he is cheating, he simply changes the rules of the game in a way that suits him. But the subordinate does not understand why it is extreme, and loses faith and respect for the leader.

The question, what is the difference between manipulation and influence, can be answered simply. If the gain is achieved due to the fact that others lose, this is a manipulation. If a person himself agrees with what is beneficial to the leader, this is the effect.

When is it needed?

Influence is always needed. Having this resource, the head will solve problems with ease, and subordinates will help him in this. To maintain influence, you must comply with rule number 1 – always keep your word. If it does not work, everything else is not important. If it works, relationships are built. Relationships ensure the effectiveness of processes.

When is manipulation used and why is it sometimes necessary? Often there is nothing to give at the start. If there is nothing to offer, they deceive, promise more than they can give. A very common situation in the case of startups, when the “Golden Mountains” will be tomorrow, but we need to work today. In principle, any leader does not tell his subordinates everything, this is normal. But criteria of trust and honesty are important, at least with oneself. Acceptable manipulation is to form expectations, forcing a person to believe in that picture of the future that the leader paints, and that a person will take a worthy place in this picture, will grow with the company. For example, to announce that in case of growth, the position of the vice president will appear, which subordinates can claim, thereby inspiring them to achieve. People draw the picture themselves and fantasize their place in it. This is normal. It is unacceptable when the head will be cunning, knowing that he will appoint his friend to the position of vice president, and this does not shine under his subordinates under any circumstances.

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