Who has power over you and how do you use your personal power?
Power and success seem to be inevitably entwined and yet successful people are the first to acknowledge that the most important part of this is to learn how to have power over themselves.
Self mastery of thoughts, emotions and actions are more important than any power we have over others.
There is much complexity behind power. Why do people comply with power? What motivates people to allow others to have power? It might be the promise of riches, a share in the power, or meeting other personal needs. It might be part of a plot to form a coup to wrest power from the incumbent.
From the reasons for compliance we learn much about personal motivation and reward.
What are the positive uses of power in business? What examples do you have of its use in creating success?
One instance of permitting others to have power is risk avoidance in decision making. A classic situation I often find myself in is where there is a group meeting and nobody wishes to put their head above the parapet first - in action or opinions. By being willing to be the first to comment when invited, or initiating the start of introductions, a small bit of power is conceded to you - often with relief. Particularly in new or unexpected situations, there is a general tendency to let someone else take the lead.
The empowerment of others is temporary. "Yes - take the risk first " is the unspoken thought - but prove yourself less that worthy, you are soon brought back down a peg again :-)
The key element of small businesses is being able to take a risk, a punt, even make a decision. This is empowering, the positive side of power, were we are willing to take control of our own destiny rather than having it determined for us by others.
The dark side of power is letting others assume power over you to the extent that it affects your personal freedom. We all know of bullies who misuse power in the workplace and the abuse of repressive regimes.
@Miltoncontact Its interesting that you relate power to decision making Chris. All the research into how people become successful shows that learning how to have power over their thoughts and emotions is a major factor in this process. Procrastination or being paralysed by fear does nothing to help. Perhaps the fear of being though 'pushy' (such a British trait) is at the root of people not wanting to take the lead in the situation you describe above.
@AnnHawkins Interesting that you mentioned fear of being pushy a as a British trait. From my international work I know how cultural context has a tremendous impact. Even speaking a different language has a profound influence on how you react in whichever language you are speaking at the time.
My personal opinion is that the British are no more or less pushy than any other culture. Other cultures push and use power more overtly. We Brits exercise the same power but with more subtle triggers.
The small business environment favours people who are more independent and likely to empower themselves and take action, whatever their culture. That is why our relatively tiny island is still punching above its weight economically and politically, whilst being characterised as unfailingly polite and fair. People see the swan swimming serenely - not the activity of the paddling feet beneath.
For me power is about control. That could be control over yourself or over others. Control of yourself is when you can control your reactions to events rather than trying to control the events as they are about to happen. Control of others is the ability to influence and to do it ethically.