The “Power” in Power Dynamics AND The Strength Within.
Updated: Sep 1
What is the exact definition of “power”?
Let’s start with the fact that power is a noun, verb, and adjective.
Merriam-Webster defines power as…
● Power (Noun) - Possession of control, authority, or influence over others.
● Power (Verb) - To move with great speed or force.
● Power (Adjective) - Of, relating to, or utilizing strength.
Having power, in short, is the capacity and ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events with authority and control.
The reason I bring this up is….
FSG published an article about 4 or 5 years ago titled “The Water of Systems Change.”
I have to say; it has become my go-to reference for systems change discussions with my clients and a topic in a few speaking engagements.
Here are a few top takeaways:
Systems change about advancing equity by shifting the conditions that hold a problem in place.
Funders should be prepared to see how their ways of thinking and acting must change to embrace systems change entirely.
Shifts in system conditions are more likely to be sustained when working at three different levels of change: explicit, semi-explicit, and implicit.
They always say that if you read something for a second time, you discover something new that you didn't get the first time around, and each time I read it, I discover a different perspective on how to approach systemic issues.
I was recently researching power dynamics for facilitation that I was preparing for, and I started to think…
…what is the difference between “power dynamics” and “power differential”?
Is there a difference?
It got me thinking, and I needed to find out!
Power Differential means…
The difference in power between persons in positions of authority and those in subordinate positions results in vulnerability on the part of the subordinate.
Power Dynamics means…
A "power dynamic" is the way different people or different groups of people interact with each other and where one of these sides is more powerful than the other.
It is similar in definition and context.
How do we acknowledge that power differential is at play when conversing?
It feels like the invisible elephant in the room is sitting right next to me, am I right?
Just thinking out loud…
Power shows up in various ways…
● Education - Your knowledge, level of degrees, and enlightenment.
● Culture – Collectively, how affluent you are in the arts, social institutions, and
achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social groups.
● Upbringing - The family ties that possibly provide you entitlement and seniority.
● Status - Titles like CEO, CFO, COO, CTO, and CIO create a level of importance.
● Skills - Possessing exceptional skills and or a particular craft that makes you unique.
● Circle - Surround yourself with influential people that elevate your presence.
These are just a few examples of power at play.
So, if I’m in a room of C-Suite leaders and the conversation seems stagnant, everyone is waiting for the CEO to decide what direction we should go.
Is that a reason for someone to limit their value and not contribute to the conversation?
Shouldn't we weigh in, speak up, provide our ideas and knowledge, and not hold ourselves back if we have a valid point?
Well, I believe you are only as strong as you think, and the only person holding you back is YOU, not anyone else.
Power has a way of taking up the air in the room and suffocating diverse voices. This is a common recurrence in the workplace and even at company functions.
Power is a complex member of the team.
With that being said, I am not afraid to tell C-Suite leaders, “hey, you know your presence in this conversation influences the direction; let’s call it out and let your leaders know you invite their opinions and that their opinions matter.”
You are speaking your mind and saying it like it creates a boundary and establishes an expectation of respect for all.
Everyone deserves to be respected, heard, and acknowledged, and when a leader, someone of power, is humble and allows everyone to have a voice, it shows that respect.
I have worked with many c-suite executives and have helped them step into the role of being better communicators, listeners, and inclusive leaders.
If you are ready and willing to create change for your organization, schedule a free consultation with me, and I will show you how you can make an effective shift in how your organization functions using my 5 – Step BOLD Approach.
Comment and let me know the ONE struggle you have when delegating tasks to your team right now.