Power Has Consequences

There is a lot to admire in leadership and knowing what skills are involved. Within the last year, I’ve been learning about power, its definition, when it is most beneficial, and what it is exactly. The image of power and leadership are closely intertwined. These two characteristics cling to the traditional view of how humanity wants those in charge to be, allowing our leaders to misuse us for their gain without much resistance. Sadly, many people strive to become just this, and for many, leadership still means taking on the role of abusive and fear-based control.

Thankfully, research is gaining traction due to social media bringing more attention to neuroscience, behavioural and social studies, and much more. In turn, specialists have a platform to speak about these topics and enlighten those that want to learn more. But unfortunately, misinformation is still prevalent and throwing around big words can take hard-earned cash from many people. As a result, they are putting science and pseudoscience together, murking the waters. I’ve seen everything from quick cash schemes to the latest “it” career, working 2 hours a day in advertisements using the image of power and leadership for ill gain. My biggest pet peeve is now sales funnels that spam everything from email to youtube, using old traditional views of power and leadership in a short film to persuade people into buying a course or making an investment. Knowing what defines power and leadership, backed up by proper research, can help with avoiding these traps, understanding what the attraction to power is and how it helps to identify the traits of good and bad leaders.

One of my favourite books, written by Robert Greene, “The 48 Laws of Power”, has a clear and concise analysis of what power is and includes fascinating examples. I don’t wholly agree with the controversial views of the book, but it is, unfortunately, a how-to for office politics. There is a lot of good advice and thought-provoking ideas that can help people have successful careers. However, I am sceptical about having these characteristics imposed upon those that don’t play the game or ignore the impact cultural and social surroundings have on most women, for example. Robert Greenes’ book, the 10th Law, avoid the unhappy and the unlucky, deals with the topic of victims and how their misfortunate can drag others down with them or how misery can be infectious. I can agree up to a certain point, but considering depression is a mental health issue many currently face, I refuse to unfriend those with this diagnosis or be unwilling to work with them. People facing challenges due to mental illness have value and contribute to friendship in many ways. Following this rule would mean putting many into isolation and endangering them, as is done in society anyway; why make it worse? Here, emotional intelligence is crucial to having compassion, valuing individuals and understanding the impact misfortunes can have on everyone. Each individual is responsible for knowing their boundaries; avoiding victims is not the answer, even for those who misuse this label. And besides, in the book itself, Law 18 contradicts allowing oneself to be isolated. There is danger in isolation, and avoiding it for oneself and having compassion for others means not allowing those needing help to become isolated. Using power to manipulate one’s way to the top has been going on for centuries and is self-serving, and many become collateral damage. Modern leadership includes being aware of how power can be beneficial but balancing it out through maintaining compassion.

The tides are turning, and leaders must take responsibility for their actions and decisions. People are starting to demand that bad decision-making or self-serving ideas have consequences. This trend is redefining leadership roles and skillsets needed for the future. Blindly following the dos and don’ts of gaining power will clash with the leadership roles changing. However, knowing how to identify the power game is still an excellent idea so that you may know the personal cost and the collateral damages involved.

This article is only a glimpse into the art and dynamics of being a successful leader in this modern world. Do you know and understand your power language, and does it serve you well in the future? Find out more through GrowthWorks executive leadership coaching. Then, book your first consultation today.

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