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Tame a powermonger

Spread responsibility to subdue intimidators

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by on
in Leaders & Managers

You’re in a bind: You manage a highego, power-hungry schemer who tramples over peers and alienates underlings. But he also brings impressive talent to the job and isn’t easy to replace.

Try these shrewd, nonconfrontational ways to tame a powermonger:

Reward team power. If you encourage your employees to compete for resources—such as money for their projects— then you’re part of the problem. Rather than pitting individuals against each other, make limited resources available to the team as a whole.

Example: Tell a power-grabber that the only way he can secure funding or expand his fiefdom is to enlist a team to produce measurable results. Promise to indulge his thirst for more authority if and only if he can collaborate with others to meet a deadline.

Provide a menu of “power paths.” Let the powermonger choose from two or three options for accumulating authority. Just make sure each alternative requires that he make sacrifices for the good of the organization. Say: “You can a) join a marketing team that can help boost your visibility, b) take charge of these three costcontrol measures or c) train our new hires to do parts of your job. Which will it be?”

Ignore the bluster. Egomaniacs tend to make scenes. They’ll brag and pontificate endlessly. They may fling insults or launch into when-I’m-the-CEO lectures. Don’t waste time scolding them. Ignore it. And instruct your colleagues to do the same. Once the blowhard realizes that no one’s listening or even acknowledging his antics, he’ll cool it.

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