Human beings grow with lots of ambitions and desires. The most important driver in our society is benchmarking success or achievement. Hierarchy is one of the most used measures of success. After all, even the gods have a hierarchy.
I grew up with the belief that the higher the position in the hierarchy, the more powerful the person.
It’s amazing that the President of United States is considered as the most powerful man on this earth. Ever thought why? You are right, because he holds the trigger to the single largest nuclear arsenal in the world, capable of annihilating significant portions of our earth and creating irreparable destructive consequences. Alternatively, he was sitting on the most important financial stockpile of the world $$$ and could economically starve you to destruction. Does this all-powerful man in the world have the ability to resurrect the dying economy of the nation? Does this all-powerful man in the world have the ability to bring back the jobs in the US? Suddenly we need god, senate, policy, bipartisanship…etc
As I grew in my career I realized that as I gained stature (hierarchical), I was actually more burdened. I had phenomenal power, on paper. The reality was that every decision of mine, would now impact the careers, households, dreams and livelihoods of more and more families. I could hurt with my decisions. The reality was that I was further and further removed from where the transaction happened – from where the organization created value.
The reality that I learned as I grew in my career, is that the power that you wield & gain as you grow in the hierarchy, which people fear and respect, is the power to destroy.
It is a very sad realization that true power that hierarchy hands the role-holder, is the power to inflict harm. Power is synonymous with fear. The emotions triggered by the word are negative. It’s is this side of power and its use and abuse, that has been recorded in history, time and again.
If I ask you to name the most powerful men in the world, names such as Alexander the great, Genghis Khan, Akbar the great would find the first mention. If I were to say that Gautam Buddha was the most powerful man on earth, it would be difficult to connect. To think that Thomas Edison would be on that list, is even more remote a possibility. Many times, we ignore the fact that the power at the top can be deployed with phenomenal impact if layered with generosity, a lot of willingness to give. It requires a lot of self-assurance and the realization that such generous giving will create amazing long-lasting impact and will generate awe, but no fear and hence no “hierarchical” perception of everyday power.
So what is this power of generosity that I experienced on my way & at the top. I have the power to influence direction. I have the power to influence thoughts. I have the power to influence ideas. I have the power to influence destiny. I have the power to spot and shape new opportunities. I have the power to recognize, reward and celebrate passion and hard work. I have the power to provide air-cover, confidence & security to those who are willing to invest their time and effort in building a better tomorrow, risking some of the short term gains that most others are chasing and managing. I have the power to allow failure, because it reinforces that someone is really trying to make things happen. I have the power to respect and not rebuke. I have the power to be generous, the power to share success & happiness. I have the power to create space & growth. The power to make every individual feel wanted, listened to & cared for.
I have always been a firm believer that leaders are those who build & shape. Not those to manage and steer. Leaders paint dreams, managers develop plans. Leaders shape beliefs, help taking leaps of faith, managers minimize risk. Leaders set you free, managers focus on control. Leaders inspire, managers usually review. Leaders perform, managers demand. Leaders explore new pathways, managers maintain through processes. Leaders create, educate & facilitate, managers typically critique, intimidate.
I have merely chosen to contrast the power choices of a leader in the context of typical short-term results driven managers. Powerful or Powerless is not defined by the hierarchical level of our achievement, it is defined by the number of people whom we impacted generously. The power to choose is universally available and it’s for each of us to decide the nature of power that we wish to wield.
Go ahead and i-fluence the world around you. Be Powerful. The power to give, lies within us.
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