When Power is Good [Power to the People]

Beautiful african woman celebrating her true natural power. Power for Everyone.Power isn’t the problem. 

Powerlessness is the problem. 

One of my favorite studies shows that when a boss feels inadequate, the boss is more likely to be aggressive. This isn’t rocket science. You know this from watching bullies on the playground overcompensate for their feelings of inadequacy by pushing the defenseless kids around. Bullies aren’t powerful; they’re threatened. 

And now the playground is the workplace.

But I have good news for you. The same study shows that workplace bullying goes down when the bosses’ self-worth is boosted. So, as you see, aggression is driven by low internal power. 

Therefore, power isn’t the problem. Powerlessness is the problem.

After all, the word power comes from the Latin ‘posse’, which means ‘to be able’. To have personal agency. 

So, when I use the word power, I mean GOOD power, the kind that raises everyone up. And, really that’s the only kind of power there is. Because if the influence isn’t good influence, it’s an abuse of rank.

By the way, the word ‘power’ is misused in common parlance, such as ‘abuse of power’. Don’t get me wrong. Abuses of rank and inequality are ENORMOUS problems. Many governments, countries, companies and corporate leaders abuse their rank.  And today’s employees are onto this. They want a workplace culture that welcomes their power, their input, their intelligence. They’re looking for an employer who VALUES their power and welcomes their diverse perspective. Power to the people.

The best defense against these abuses is giving people real tools to anchor into their strongest, most powerful selves. We’re all better off when everyone has agency, when everyone is empowered. THIS is the real equality creator. Power to the People.

If you care about empowering others, I have a 10-second challenge for you. Close your eyes. Bring to mind a team member whose contributions you value. Now: Boost their power by celebrating and tagging them below.

Power for Everyone. 

More power to you,


We’re about to choose 12 select companies and turn them into vibrant, exciting, healthy, connected and equitable places to work. If you’re interested, ping me.

Fast, N. J., & Chen, S. (2009). When the boss feels inadequate: Power, incompetence, and aggression. Psychological Science, 20, 1406-1413.


Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search