Power in the workplace: addressing the elephant in the room

power in the workplace

Use of power in the corporate landscape is often discussed in hushed tones, however rarely have I encountered open and frank discussion around this topic in the workplace.

In my experience women leaders have traditionally had an ambivalent attitude to power. Masculine models of power have been adopted as the benchmark for women executives for decades.

Is this changing? Yes, this is starting to shift as women (and men) explore their relationship with power and begin to own their individual styles.

The workplace itself is changing and the future work skills we require in a globally connected world with the rise of smart machines and systems, social technologies driving new forms of production and value creation, increased longevity and the physical workplace reinventing itself in a multitude of forms, are not those skills or attitudes that sustained us in the past.

Last week I attended a conference in London aptly titled “Unimaginable storms” and I paused to reflect on how far we have come in our ethical use of power.

Have we come very far – maybe in our understanding, perhaps not in our actions? The elephant in the room is use and misuse of power. The very nature of misuse of power militates against free and frank discussions. The elephant in the room may well be named shame. Shame is a paradox – by its very nature it is hidden and yet the cure for shame is to shed light on it. Are we ashamed of our actions or are we indeed ashamed that we have not named inappropriate behaviours?

Perhaps a new lens is required.

There is much talk today of compassion and innate humanness whilst authority and submission, fear of being nothing, overt put down, subtle superiority and dismissiveness are still demonstrated in many workplaces.

More elephants!

Which of course can lead to dangerous oversights and changing risk factors and risk profiles in organisations.

To tame the elephant people need to develop the capacity to build multilateral relationships. Questioning what we believe and what we want is difficult at the best of times and especially when we most need to do it. To articulate our concerns in the workplace often requires courage, perseverance and resilience, even if underlying structures and procedures purportedly support ameliorating strategies.

Meaning provides the lens – understand behaviour, rather than just observe it.

We talk about power all the time – do we really understand what it is and how to use it?

It is important to be intentional about what you are seeking as a leader. There is no single model of power that works for everyone.

What do we need to know about power?

The key to using our power wisely is to understand the impact of our actions on other people and to be aware of the appropriateness of these actions.

How can we use our power ethically?

In order to use power ethically in the business landscape it is necessary for us to develop an awareness of the concept of power and what it means to us. Also we need to understand how power impacts on our lives, both in business and personally, and to develop skills to enhance the right or ethical use of power.

And if we don’t? Then the elephant comes charging in.

What is the right use of power?

 The right use of power is achieving what you want without the use of manipulation, coercion, or other more subtle and elusive forms of power. True power lies in clarity and conviction. Finding and articulating your passion and purpose will allow you to stand in your power.

Right use of power requires you to be comfortable with your power, face your fears and act with power. No one will willingly step aside and cede their power to you. You have to step forward and take it yourself.

Ultimately we all have choice. We can choose to be powerless or we can be comfortable with our power.

If we respect ourselves and others, and take responsibility for our actions, then the right use of power will follow.

Besides, the right use of power can dramatically improve the bottom line of any business entity!

Maybe the elephant has something to teach us after all!

 

image credit:  via Flikr Tambako

We have a new Canadian associate

We are proud to announce that the Morawska Group has developed a strategic association with project management specialists John J Rakos and Associates.

John J Rakos and Associates was incorporated in 1984. They are experts in project management training and consulting work, with a long history of consulting in both the private and public sectors in Canada and overseas.

The new alliance will further strengthen the Morawska Group’s capabilities and  it brings both a fresh perspective to project management and leverages the strengths of both organisations to provide an end to end solution for clients.

http://www.rakos.com/

Peace dot directory

This directory is maintained by the Peace Innovation group at the Stanford University Persuasive Technology Lab http://docs.google.com/View?id=dcqn4jpj_46cs67jq68 and well worth a look. You may need to cut and paste the link to your browser.

Education, Conservation and Economic Good Sense

I wrote this paper in 1988 when I was a young scientist at CSIRO, Australia (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). It is still current. Have we progressed?

Abstract

Much has been written about the greenhouse effect and the implications on a local, national and global scale. What can the individual do with respect to alleviating the greenhouse effect and will this have a significant effect on the problem as a whole? This paper explores options for individuals and seeks to assess what quantitative and other impacts these behavioural changes will have on the greenhouse effect. The paper also examines the feasibility and costs of making such changes in the context of individual lifestyles and situations. A range of implementation strategies is discussed

Key word index:  carbon dioxide emissions, energy conservation, policy implications, education, domestic energy usage, lifestyle  impact, transport, recycling, buildings, behavioural changes.

If you would like a copy, subscribe to this site using either the email subscription link or RSS subscription link in the right hand sidebar.

Jenny Morawska

Peace and mental health

It’s hard to believe that it is 6 months since the earthquake in Haiti. A new issue is emerging – that of mental health. Peace of mind is a critical component in the peace building process. Stability and physical security are of course paramount, however as  a global village we need to be aware of the costs of poor mental health especially during the interim stabilization periods and in post conflict peacebuilding.

Vale Marc Plum

It is with great sadness that I have heard of the death of our valued colleague and friend Marc Plum in the UN Mission in the Haiti earthquake. The intelligent and charming Marc worked tirelssly for peace and stability in Haiti, often putting aside his own needs for the bigger picture of a better world. We will miss you Marc. Our condolences to his family and colleagues.

Haiti update

Ase Lund our security expert leaves Stockholm on Saturday night for Port au Prince with a Swedish team who will set up a base-camp for UN personnel. About 20 Swedes, including electricians and sanitation specialists, will be deployed for this task.

The Swedish team is self-sufficient so as not to burden Haiti further.  Transportation is a cooperative effort between the Nordic countries.    Norway, Denmark, and Finland are also contributing to the base-camp with materiel, as is Estonia.
I wish her and all the team a safe and successful mission.
Jenny Morawska