Reclaiming the word “power”

Power comes up in several contexts when discussing the matter of leadership with others. Most people, however, are thinking about something else when they talk about power; they’re thinking about force or coercion which they have mixed up with power.

Consider that power has nothing to do with force or coercion. In fact, the presence of force indicates a loss of power.

Force can show up in the obvious ways including “guile, anger, bossiness, righteousness, defensiveness, manipulation”, and in the less obvious including “playing the victim and helplessness.”*

Power, on the other hand, is connected to acting and speaking in a way that is consistent with one’s commitments. It’s about standing unabashedly for what one is standing for, and taking whatever one gets. All of us are innately powerful.

It’s time we reclaimed the word power.


* Werner H Erhard, Michael C Jensen, Steve Zaffron: Integrity: A positive model that incorporates the normative phenomena of morality, ethics, and legality – Abridged, Harvard Business School NOM Working Paper No. 10-061


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