How We As Leaders Give Our Leadership Power Away

by  Lisa Petrilli  |  Self Leadership

Have you ever watched a football game on TV?  Of course you have. Ever seen a really bad play that clearly did not go the way the Head Coach or the team had planned?  All the time.

What happens next?

In the span of, I don’t know, maybe 30 seconds the entire competitive landscape is re-assessed by the Head Coach and a new course of action is set in place.

Players gather at the line of scrimmage in their designated roles and you can see from those amazing TV close-ups the power in their eyes and the fact that they are totally present with the knowledge that a very powerful force is about to be unleashed upon them and they need to be ready.

What would happen if the Head Coach spent those 30 seconds all ticked off about that last play and focused on his frustration?  What would happen if he spent those 30 seconds thinking about how cool it will be in the 3rd quarter when they run that new “hocus pocus” play they’d invented that week? Um, yeah, exactly.

Now think about your business.  Then think about your life in general.

How much time do you spend like the players on the field completely immersed in the present moment, fully aware of who is in front of you, what they are communicating to you and what is coming at you (whether it be your competition, your clients, your teams or your loved ones)?

Why should you think about this?  Because your leadership power is in the present moment.

You have absolutely no power over the past and the only power you have over the future is to affect it in the present.  You probably never thought of it this way, but you hold all of your power in the present moment.  Just like the football players all lined up and ready for that next play with power in their eyes.

What can you do in the present moment with the enormity of that power?

  • Make a bold decision
  • Hear the tone in your client’s voice that signals how confident they really
    are in their strategies
  • Accept the reality of your competitive landscape
  • Choose to believe someone – or not
  • Admit to yourself you love someone
  • Start

All pretty powerful, I’d say.

As leaders we are bombarded each day by information, messages, questions, and requests.

How often do we absorb the reality of the present moment, of the competitive landscape, of what is coming at us and choose to address these things full force? How often are we actually distracted or unfocused instead?

Do we delegate our power away…and if so, why?

Do we fail to be fully present with our teams, our boards, our children, our friends?

How would our business – and our life – be different if we harnessed the power in every moment?

How would your business and your life be different if you harnessed the power in your present moment?

Please let me know in the comments – I’d be honored if you would share your thoughts!

This post originally ran on Lisa’s C-Level Strategies blog.


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What People Are Saying

Angie Chaplin  |  21 Jul 2011  |  Reply

Excellent post (as always). One of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership in The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes & Barry Posner is Enable Others to Act. This practice requires investment in others, and one basic ingredient: TRUST. By enabling others to act, a leader willingly gives his/her power away, which makes the leader more powerful. That’s one of the truths of leadership that many “leaders” haven’t fully grasped — the more power we give away, the more powerful we become.

Lisa Petrilli  |  21 Jul 2011  |  Reply

Thank you so much, Angie. You bring up such a great point – the power of trust that is created when we are truly present with our teams. By being present we tap into our own power, and then we are more capable of giving it away by empowering others. The cycle itself is fulfilling and even more empowering.

I genuinely appreciate you sharing that insight!

Simon Harevy  |  21 Jul 2011  |  Reply


Great post and I will have to write a book to answer all the questions it brings up for me. So for now as I have to go with this moment and get going away from this screen, I say thanks and don’t let the moment get away.


Lisa Petrilli  |  21 Jul 2011  |  Reply


Perhaps in that moment the message for you was you are meant to write that book? Pretty powerful… Thanks for reading and commenting!

Shawn Murphy  |  21 Jul 2011  |  Reply

What an important message for all leaders today- positional or influencers. Getting present to today opens up our perspective. We wonder why we didn’t do it sooner the moment we do it and the more fluid things fall into place. It sounds foreign for those constantly battling the ghosts and the enemies we make of the future.

I like the passion in this post.

Lisa Petrilli  |  21 Jul 2011  |  Reply


I so appreciate that you felt the passion and love how you describe the battles with ghosts and the enemies we make of the future. What a compelling way to truly convey the reality of living somewhere other than the present moment.

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, I genuinely appreciate it!

Tristan Bishop  |  21 Jul 2011  |  Reply

Fantastic, Lisa. It’s all about facing reality and responding accordingly. The best leaders take responsibility, not credit. They find solutions, not fault. Appreciating the reminder! :) Tristan

Lisa Petrilli  |  21 Jul 2011  |  Reply

Thank you, Tristan! And…you’re welcome. :)

Garry Trammell  |  23 Jul 2011  |  Reply

Excellent Lisa, thank you!

Lisa Petrilli  |  24 Jul 2011  |  Reply

Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment, Garry – I appreciate all the support you give me!

Susan Mazza  |  29 Jul 2011  |  Reply

Very powerful message Lisa. Your article had me think about a distinction from Christine Comaford – striding vs. striving. When we are striving chances are we aren’t being present in the moment because we are so busy doing stuff trying to get somewhere. When we are present time seems to slow down just a bit and the experience is more one of striding. Sometimes to use our power most effectively in the present moment we have to just stop doing and start paying attention.

Lisa Petrilli  |  30 Jul 2011  |  Reply


That’s a lovely point! I appreciate you letting me know how it resonated with you. I always enjoy knowing how my thoughts have led others down a complementary path. Thanks so much for sharing!

Randy Hall  |  31 Jul 2011  |  Reply


Thanks for the thoughts and the great article. So often we forget that choosing to do nothing when we have the chance to is a conscious choice as well. The convenient part of that is if we fail to act we can blame bad outcomes on circumstances instead of our actions. The truth is, in most cases, we caused the results either way.

Thanks for making us think,


Lisa Petrilli  |  01 Aug 2011  |  Reply


I love that insight – it’s fascinating to see how this concept resonates differently with readers. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and to share your thoughts; it means a lot to me!

Ashley S.C. Walls  |  08 Aug 2011  |  Reply



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