In Balanced Leadership we believe there are two worlds. These are two ways of being in the world and they each have a different operating system. There are some concepts like power that span the two worlds. But here’s the thing. They mean different things in each world. If you don’t recognize this, you may only be getting half the picture.
I came across this idea when I was writing a paper on power. The Max Weber definition of power is “the ability to assert your will even against the will of others”. It is synonymous with control. This seemed like a good definition to me when I considered competition in the workplace or fending off the effects of time or stopping someone bent on destruction of something I valued.
Then I heard a song on the radio about the power of love. I noticed there are a lot of references to the power of love in life. Surely this is not about asserting your will even against the will of others.
I did a little research and found another definition of power. Power is the ability to be all you are capable of being.
When you realize your ability to feel fully alive you have accessed this second world of power. When you recognize you can enable others to fulfill their true potential you get a sense of your power. I think this is where the power of parenthood is rooted. A lot of positive leadership comes from this place as well.
Once you recognize there are two forms of power you can cultivate both of them in yourself as a leader. They come from very different drives. The power to assert your will over others comes from a fear-based drive. The power to see people be all they are capable of (including yourself) comes from a passion-based drive. Both can be positive and both have a shadow side when overdone or misapplied.
Let’s look at information sharing for example. Kayla Cruz wrote a great blog on how important it is to feed Gen Y. They are eager to learn, to get ahead, to better themselves. In a fear-based world, information is power and it is metered out to those who are allies in your cause. It can marginalize those who are unlike you, like younger people. In the passion-based world it is the inspiration that allows people to grow into all they are capable of being and is freely available in whatever creative way someone chooses it.
As leaders we need to keep both kinds of power alive. Keep strategic information from competitors in one world, to preserve and protect what you value, and, nourish the minds and creativity of people in the other. Understanding both meanings of power guides leaders in doing this.