Leadership is often associated with power: Power Over.
Power Over others is how power is commonly understood. Power Over is at the root of authority, hierarchy, and command and control leadership.
Power Over Is Problematic
When Power Over others defines a relationship, it can be used in coercive, oppressive, and abusive ways. When Power Over is exerted on people, it leaves them feeling powerless.
Yet Power Over is limited power. It may seem effective in the short term, but Power Over eventually weakens as friction and resistance increase. And when the Power Over dynamic fades, often so does the change that that sort of power was driving as followers embrace the freedom to choose a different path.
Embracing Trust-Centered Power
But other types of power are more powerful than Power Over, more enduring, and are at the core of more effective leadership. Other types of power unleash, include, and empower others, build trust, and foster the enrollment needed for long-term, sustainable change-making. These are the types of power harnessed by Trust-Centered leaders:
- Power To: This is productive and generative. It’s the Power To embrace possibility and make change happen, to make a difference. It’s the power to achieve goals, to create something new, to generously move forward together.
- Power With: This is shared power born of trust, togetherness, and collaboration. This is the Power To be greater than the sum of our parts, to harness diversity and transcend differences to forge the path to collective action. Power With is anchored in mutual understanding, respect, dignity, support, empowerment, and co-creation.
- Power Within: This involves trusting in oneself and recognizing the gifts each of us has within and courageously sharing these with the world. It involves self-awareness and self-acceptance. It’s also recognizing and celebrating the unique Power Within others so as to fully engage Power With. It’s believing each and every one of us has the Power To make a difference.
Practicing Leadership that Empowers
Reflecting on your leadership, what types of power are you most frequently exercising? As Trust-Centered leaders, our work is not to maximize Power Over. The most powerful leadership empowers others. How might you more readily empower others by leading in a way that cultivates Power To, Power With, and Power Within?
PS – Want to develop skills to help you better harness Power To, Power With, and Power Within? Then register for our free virtual workshops. You’ll walk away with practical, Trust-Centered™ skills you can put into practice right away to help your team and organization thrive.