Power in Leadership

Another blog post of mine from awhile back:

Snowless Thunder Bowl

Snowless Thunder Bowl (Photo credit: Tony Frates)

What is your style of dealing/handling people? Do you consider yourself more of a manager or leader? This applies not only in the workforce but also in your family or with your friends. It is often that these two terms are used interchangeably but there is a distinct difference that Steve Jobs portrays, “Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could”. Merely managing people tends to use coercive (fear or force) or utility (relies on what is fair or what the deal states) power.  Now, there are times when this may be appropriate but for long-term relationships you care about, power needs to come elsewhere.

True leadership, no matter your position or title, comes from not the use of coercion or utility but from principle-centered power. Blaine Lee in The Power Principle describes that principle-centered power is based on “what you can do with others”.  Instead of working with the mindset of “What can you do for me and I can do for you,” it becomes “What can we do and be together”. It is anchored off of trust, honor, and respect towards each other. It allows a whole new level of connection, synergy, and creativity to arise. It allows both parties to engage in a transformation versus a transaction.

Think about how you your friends, family, and co-workers and which of these types of power is it?

  1. Coercive

Example: A manager threatens employees that they will be reported if there is too much socializing during work-time.

Outcome: Most often development of negative feelings for the punisher and the victim starts not diminishing but hiding the behavior.

  1. Utility

Example: A parent who only takes interest in their child’s day if they behaved at school. If the child did not behave during school then they are emotionally neglected by the parent.

Outcome: The relationship developed with this power is extremely conditional. Blaine states that when the question arises of, “what have you done for me lately”? If one side has not done enough the relationship is risked or ended (94).

  1. Principle-Centered

Example: A parent who talks to their child about them not behaving at school. The parent listens to them and tries to find a solution that brings up new solutions to solve the problem.

Now this does require more time to listen to the other person, trust, and an exchange of information but it harbors better solutions and stronger relationships. But what else is life about if it isn’t the quality and quantity of relationship you have built during your time on earth?


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