Helping leaders emerge


When Power Does NOT Corrupt

Whether you lead in your business, non-profit organization, community, or family, it’s important to keep in mind that power often corrupts and leads to feelings of entitlement and complacency.

As my mentor, Dale Moss, shared, “Power is so unbelievably intoxicating and over time it almost always does corrupt. To think power doesn’t corrupt is naive and dangerous. To say, maybe ‘them’ but not ‘me’, is the rare, very rare exception. So, if you want to show up as a leader – and I hope you do – start the discussion by assuming power always corrupts and make sure there are checks and balances via regular audits to keep everyone (including yourself) honest.”

In my work as an executive coach, I have learned that leadership is a privilege and a responsibility. One important job of any great leader is to make sure that ALL people feel safe enough to speak up and share their own unique perspective.

Clients use the following thought questions useful to manage their egos:

What reflection-based practices and disciplines do you have in place to support you in being of service to a higher vision? One executive recently shared that he has a practice of walking around the neighborhood every evening alone to reflect on the day’s events. Another client leads a prayer group and mentors others most mornings before work.

How do you make sure the people in your inner circle keep you honest? Who do you trust to be objective and hold you accountable to your values and behaviors? How do you make sure you don’t surround yourself with ‘yes’ people? One leader makes it a point to hire individuals who are willing to speak up and share their perspectives.

What practices do you have in place to make it psychologically safe for all individuals, especially introverts and/or marginalized colleagues, to speak up? One leader shares that she waits for everyone else to speak up before she offers her opinion and makes it a point to invite soft-spoken and junior colleagues into the conversation. One executive passes out large index cards for people to write down what they are thinking, collects the cards, and shares the insights with everyone – keeping the suggestions ‘anonymous’.