Life According to Powerful People

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Prism® Stories: Powerful Pamela

As part of an ongoing series, we shall intermittently surface stories through the lens of Prism:

Pamela’s days were filled with action and purposeful movement dedicated to the many projects she was leading. Rooted firmly in the Powerful quadrant of the SurePeople Prism and as a lawyer, Pamela loved the high-pressure, high-stakes environment that came with her job. She outworked many of her peers and was quickly seen as a rising star at her firm.

As a Visionary, Pamela was bold, decisive, and unflappable. She had no problem owning her seat around the mostly male-dominated leadership table and going head-to-head with anyone whose perspective she opposed. Her worst fear was looking weak, and she went to great lengths to maintain her position among her peers.

Despite her early success at work, problems started for Pamela when she took on a leadership role. She was delighted with her team’s early successes but caught off guard when their engagement with work began to wither. Voices within the team slowly faded, and vibrant discussion evaporated as many of the team retreated into silence.

She tasked herself with seeking feedback and eventually realized that the team was intimidated by her leadership style. They often felt like she tolerated little room for dialogue and opposing opinions. Even worse, team members felt like she didn’t care about them and didn’t bother learning about them as individuals beyond work.

Pamela started inquiring more about her impact on others and began using open-ended questions, such as illustrated in this video. She learned how to integrate Humble Inquiry, the skill of asking and not telling, and listening to understand. This was a difficult time in her career, but a pivotal one in helping her become a better leader—and a better teammate.

Pamela’s experience isn’t unique. Many people who have the defining dimension of Power in their Prism Portrait report similar experiences. When colleagues perceive us as aggressive, we ought to adapt for the betterment of the team. Consider a gentler approach or even a more relaxed demeanor. Something as simple as consciously leaning back in a chair instead of forward may go a long way in altering perceptions of unwelcome dominance.

It is crucial for not just team culture but our very connections as human beings to consider and weigh our impact on others. We may find that a regular practice of seeking and integrating feedback may benefit both our teams and, ultimately, ourselves.

“We continue to shape our personality all our life.”
– Albert Camus

Do you have an idea you want to share with an empowered community of self-aware professionals? If you’d like to contribute an idea or article to ‘In The Flow of Work’ on the Evolve blog, just send us a message or submit a post to our Head of Content, Adam Schneider

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