How much ‘Power’ is Powerful?
We have covered some thoughts on the topic of workplace ‘Influence’ in my February blog, so this month, let us spend some time looking at the topic of ‘Power’ from a few angles and see if we can’t come up with something interesting. I have a lot to cover about this so it will be in 2 parts, the Power Thinking and then a Power Audit. Let's get stuck into part 1.
George Orwell, the Author of 1984 wrote once “The object of Power is Power”.
For a very long time in my corporate life I believed wholeheartedly in Power and Influence and it seems to me at least that this quote is fitting for corporate micro climates. ‘Power’ as I understood it to be (perhaps imprinted?), was a commodity; awarded to the brightest and best, the sponsored and championed. As power was bestowed, it was celebrated. An example set. Power came with privilege. Privilege; that was defined by shiny things like invites to meetings previously out of bounds, access to budget and decision input. Organisational Pavlov’s Dog. Transactional Leadership.
My experience is that this kind of power has the potential to become a drug which creates a yearning for more power, and hence we refer to career progression in vertical terms, described as a career ladder. ‘You must’, they say “aspire for more”. ‘You must’ they say “strive to improve”. “You should” they say “want to move ahead”. “You can” they say “get that promotion”. “Stay”, they say, “and keep striving to be like me”
Within the microclimates of our working life, we are encouraged to succeed and improve, and by doing so we are rewarded with power, or in other words climbing the corporate ladder to success.
I encourage you to think about this in terms of the leadership you have experienced to see how that sits with your own reasoning. Furthermore, move outside the prism of influence that surrounds you, and feeds you; this may be the industry you work in, the organisation you work for or the department you are in; and consider what would Power be to YOU; if your work was by your own design and choice.
Ask yourself some questions
· Do I have any power here now, where I am?
· How is Power defined and demonstrated here?
· Am I part of that story?
· Do I want to play with the powerful?
· If I get power, what can I really do with it?
· How agile is my power?
· Is my power mine at all? Where do I go to get it back?
· Does power really matter? Do I understand why?
· Are my ethics, values and morals threatened or enhanced by the power I have / covet?
· If I move myself am I being powerful?
· What does my power look like? Feel like?
· If I asked others to describe my power what would they say?
That’s a lot of thinking to do, and I encourage you to spend some time really mulling this over.
Workplace cultures have a long way to go to turn around the ‘Power is Everything’ culture, something they may never do in time to meet the rising tide of disruptors, the post social leadership mass movements who just refuse to work that way. It is going to be a hugely interesting few years ahead so getting yourself ready ahead of the bumpy ride is a good idea.
Next we will cover Power in terms of taking some of this thinking and auditing ourselves. Stay tuned, and in terms of Power; keep your eyes open.