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The Power To...

For whatever reason power has been a bit of a double- edged sword for me, a somehow less than noble thing to strive for (and possibly the label “unladylike” is somewhere in the muddy waters that have been my relationship to power).  And yet, can we agree that ambivalence on this subject impacts our ability to act effectively and be a great leader, both in our personal lives and in the work we do?  Yes?  Then it is very important and worth our time to establish a solid, committed relationship with power.

Below are some of the definitions that come up for power.  I believe they shed a little light on the love/hate relationship some of us have with power.

Power (n.)

1.)     The ability or capacity to perform or active effectively. (OK, liking this one.)

2.)    A specific capacity, faculty or aptitude. (Still feeling it, ok with this one.)

3.)    The ability or official capacity to exercise control. (Now I’m getting uncomfortable.)

4.)    A Person, group or nation having great influence or control over others. (“Control over others.”  So this phrase without any reference to responsibility to the greater good of those people is really tripping me up now.)


When I was contemplating moving into management many years ago, I was a little hesitant to make the leap.  Stay hands-on, head-down techie or step into the fray I perceived management to be?  When I was explaining my hesitancy to my manager, one of the things I mentioned was what an enormous responsibility it is and the impact you can have on peoples’ lives.  A good manager can make ALL the difference, we all know this.  Just like we know a bad one can make life at work less than pleasant, to put it mildly.  And hey, we spend A LOT of time at work.  What he said to me is this:  That you recognize this responsibility and your concern for the people is exactly why you will make a great manager.  And potentially one of those “bad bosses” that is just in it for him/herself and their ego, they’ll leap at it without even giving it a second thought.  

I recognize now that he touched on something that was clarified further and simplified for me just last week.  I was reading a book called “No Excuses:  9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power” by Gloria Feldt and with just a few words in one chapter, she beautifully transformed the way I think about power.

The words were these:  “Power Over vs. Power To”.  

Power over is what trips me up at some level.  Ahhh, but Power To!  As a leader, you are influencing and getting things done through other people.  As a manager, you have “power over”, but leading from a place of “power to”....


  •       Make a difference.
  •       Be a positive influence.
  •       Inspire greatness.
  •       Lead the way to a better way of doing things.
  •       Affect positive changes.
  •       Make the world a better place…starting with the world you inhabit exactly where you are.
  •       Change the world.

All of us can lead from wherever we are, manager title is not required.  Moving into management though does give you a greater opportunity to influence positive change in an organization.

Know your value, Be YOU, Inc.  Discover and own your super powers, then use them for good and to combat evil. ;-)

Your power is a wonderful thing, how are you using your “power to” to make a difference in your life, for your family & the lives of those you come in contact with this week, this month, this year?  Want to get results, make more money and influence positive change?  Click here.