Your Power History
Before you read this article (and watch the video), I’d like you to pause for a second and reflect on your own perspective about “power”.
Do you lean away from it? Do you lean into it?
When you hear the word “power”, do you think of negative or positive impacts?
OK, now that you’re aware (broadly speaking) of your perspective on power, grab a pen and paper and watch this short video where Jeff describes and walks you through a classic Right Use of Power activity called “Remember a Time”.
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All of us have a unique perspective and history with power. And whether or not that perspective is largely positive, negative or neutral depends entirely on our experiences with how OTHER people have exercised their power.
From our parents to our teachers, coaches, community leaders and employers, our perspective is heavily influenced by our experiences in relationship with them. The impact that we have on the people we care for is profound…many participants in our Right Use of Power workshops describe how experiences and incidents from years ago (sometimes decades) still impacts their decisions today.
Power Awareness is the second key to using your power well, after developing a basic understanding of what power is and how it shows up in connection to self and others.
How to Build your Power Awareness
We all have tendencies, preferences and behaviours that reflect our deeper connection to power. Building awareness regarding these tendencies is a critical component of developing as a leader. Here are a few things to reflect on;
- Do I have firm or flexible boundaries? Are my boundaries helpful or harmful for the types of relationships I’m trying to form?
- Do I prefer harmony or truth? (Would I rather be loved, or be right?)
- What patterns have developed in my relationships with others? Do I tend to succeed or struggle with the same “types” of people? What might that suggest about how I’m showing up as a leader?
And if you want to accelerate the development of “Power Awareness” in your own leadership practice, the most reliable mechanism is to build some feedback loops into your day to day life.