Who is Dr. Julie Diamond?
Dr. Julie Diamond is the author of Power: A Users Guide and an international trainer and coach. She is also the creator of the Diamond Power Index which is the first 360-degree psychometric tool which focusses directly on how a manager or senior leader uses their power.
Why is power so important?
Julie explains that, while power is ever-present in our work and personal relationships, it is rarely discussed directly. It is also rare to find training that specifically targets how to use power well.
Some years ago, Julie noticed a need for training that helps those in power use their power better – moment by moment, and conversation by conversation. Julie’s book and the Diamond Power Index are her response to that need.
In this interview, Julie looks specifically at the problem of having a power position but feeling powerless. When this becomes the everyday experience of those in powerful positions, they become vulnerable to repeatedly using their power to protect themselves, or even attack others. She explains that this scenario is extremely common in organisations, in the classroom, or in the church. For instance, when the powerful feel uncomfortable with a conversation they are in, they may redirect it, turn the questions on others, or even lash out and cause others to feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Julie emphasises that, while such strategies are common, usually they are not conscious.
Importantly, Julie also explains that such strategies apply not only to those enjoying positional power. Those who have less formal power – for example, because they might have long-term tenure, or are popular and well liked – often fail to utilise their informal power to help newcomers feel part of the group and support their participation.
The Diamond Power Index
Speaking about the Diamond Power Index, Julie explains why a self-assessment of personal power was included in the tool. A leader’s understanding of how they experience their own power, she says, is central to them understanding and changing how others experience their use of power.
Finally, Julie unpacks two specific scales that are included in the Diamond Power Index. The first is the intimidating versus approachable scale. Julie emphasises the need for leaders to be approachable and therefore avoid the common scenario of being starved for authentic, brave feedback. Leaders today simply cannot afford to be in the dark about what is happening in their organisations. However, if they are experienced as intimidating, they are very likely to be deeply misinformed about what’s going wrong.
The second scale that Julie reviews is the indulgent versus judicious scale. Here Julie explains the risks to leaders of taking advantage of their position of power to meet their own needs. Those in leadership roles can be constantly tempted to think about their own needs, or the needs of their team, above the needs of the organisation. She describes the everyday example of the boss who arrives late for his or her own meeting. The idea that “I can arrive late to a meeting of those who report to me” is indulgent, and a poor use of power.
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