Re-defining Power in leadership

I’ve been thinking lately of the term “power”: what meaning do we give to it and how do we use it as leaders, parents, women and other roles we play in our day to day lives.

Power comes from the Latin word potere, which means “to be able” and is mainly related to the physical force, strength, control, authority, dominance; power over/ in relation to something/someone.

Nowadays, power is associated with money/wealth and status. If you are in a position of power, you can exercise authority over others. In the ancient times, this position of power could have referred to physical force of a warrior. Others would have followed him seeking protection. So, it was something which could have been measured by the muscular strength or by the number of battles one fought.

However, since the physical strength is no longer needed, or not as much as it used to be since the development of technology, power is exercised in different other ways: manipulation, belittling others, psychological dominance, etc. Thus, is given a rather unfavorable interpretation.

In leadership, power seems to be something which is longed for and which comes together with the position achieved, both by women and men: men who want to be in conquest and women who are afraid of being seen as weak and thus take over the behavior of men.

As Simon Sinek said, “true leaders have a balance of both masculine and feminine leadership qualities”. Suppressing the feminine (by both men and women) will only give a feeling of power over others which will translate into fear-based performance, bringing only short-term results.

While we do need more female leaders, what we need most is more female leadership. True leadership includes empathy, patience, listening and caring, which are traditionally “female characteristics”. – Simon Sinek.

From a different perspective, power can be seen as “the capacity to fulfill your mission in alignment with positive values.” (A World book of values)

Defining power as a capacity which enables you to bring your personal or business mission to full fruition, whilst living the values that are important to you, it will make it more of an exploration of inner strengths than an exploitation of others.

To increase power is also to add value to other people’s power, rather than take it away. If we are not increasing other people’s ability to fulfill their mission in alignment with their values, then we are actually limiting both them and ourselves.

From a shamanic perspective, power is referred to only as power over yourself (personal power) which allows you to live a life of freedom, to respond rather to react. As you increase your capacity to realise your dreams through engaging in conscious, positive and directed activities, you also raise your personal power.

So, instead of looking at power from the perspective of exercising control over someone, we should look at it from the perspective of bringing our life’s mission in alignment with our values, welcoming who we really are. In this way we will create the space that will naturally invite others to find meaning in their lives, offering our gift, our unique call, to the benefit of the whole. In my perspective, this is the true meaning of power in leadership.

By domination you will not know life. Only by inclusion you will know life – Sadhguru


Bibliography:

Sadhguru on the Power of Feminine Energy – link

Women Leaders: Stop Trying to Lead Like a Man – link 

A World book of values by Patrick Somers and Kate Stephenson, pg. 275, pg. 216

The accidental shaman by Howard G. Charing, pg. 52-53

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