The ethical and positive uses of power

In a very useful piece for Forbes.com, Kathy Caprino identifies “9 Core Behaviors Of People Who Positively Impact The World.” Among these is the positive use of one’s power:

Sadly, it’s a common occurrence in business today to witness power and influence being wielded as a weapon. It hurts and destroys. Positive influencers use their power well and wisely. They understand the widespread influence they have, the power they have to build up and elevate, or tear down.  Those who impact the world for the better are careful and judicious with their words, actions and behaviors. . . . They understand their special role, and accept it with grace, compassion, and care.

I was pleased to read this article, which is definitely worth a full read, especially for what Caprino said about power. Last December, in a blog post about claiming and using power to do good, I wrote:

I submit that those of us who have witnessed excesses of power may be wary or downright fearful of it, and with good reason. All too often, power is exercised by those who use it to hurt others. Consequently, many of us have come to associate power with abuse.

…(S)uch ambivalence can cause us to cede our own power to make positive change. Perhaps some feel comfortable with the term “empowered,” which is more likely to be invoked at gatherings of social activists. But I think we need to face down the beast. We need to build our individual and collective power, exercise it effectively and judiciously, and keep it in check when we are tempted to use it excessively.

We live in a world where there is no shortage of people who are willing and able to use their power to exploit, mistreat, and even abuse others. It’s up to the rest of us to find our power and use it for good.

One response

  1. Never been much for articles like Caprino’s. It’s not that what she writes is disagreeable in content. No, it’s because there is an underlying message that if one is not doing those things, there is a lacking, a falling short. Perhaps that is not intended and perhaps the fingers could be pointed at me for having such a perception, but my thoughts are what they are.

    The people having some or all of the attributes outlined in Caprino’s article don’t need to read her article, the rest of us need acceptance of where we are at and the desire and resources to support baby steps to reach where we want to go. We may need a beacon, but first, a flashlight. And I see your words, Mr. Yamada, more to this point. Start within. Search within. Guide one’s own steps.

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