Wielding Power Wisely

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

Today’s  Video is on Wielding Power Wisely. – Transcribed

Every leader deals with power. What to do with it, how to wield it, when to use it? It’s a challenge for us frankly depending on what role we play.

I’ve been in corporate positions, church positions, nonprofit organization roles and there are various kinds of power whether that be sort of spiritual power, if you will, that a congregation gives to you, so the speak, or that you sense that God is you know put you in a place of leadership. It can be managerial authority I’ve had that, direct reports, people that that you’re responsible to lead. There are sort of subtle versions of power where it’s more about influence than maybe line authority. So regardless of your background corporate, religious or not power is an issue power, power is something we need to wield wisely.

Mel Lawrenz, in a book he wrote on spiritual influence talking primarily church leaders, though I think that it applies broadly, quotes the scene from Lord of the Rings when Gandalf is being offered the ring by Frodo, Gandalf says, “Don’t tempt me Frodo I dare not take it not even to keep it safe, now understand Frodo I could use this ring from a desire to do a good, you know I really could, but through me it would wield power too great and too terrible to imagine.” He didn’t want the power vested in that little ring. Later Frodo tried to offer it to Galadriel and she said, “Oh you have a queen beautiful and terrible as the dawn, treacherous as the sea, stronger than the foundations of the earth, all shall love me and despair.” The idea that if you give me that kind of power as much as my heart desires to use it well, I could really hurt people with it. And I think every leader with any significant amount of authority wrestles with that.

Sometimes we are given power we just don’t want. Spiritual leaders are held up a little too high on a podium, corporate leaders are expected to  solve every problem that comes their way and please shareholders and please other managers and boards etcetera and sometimes we send someone all that power. So one key thing I want you to remember today about power is how would you use it?

The apostle Paul, when writing again, here’s a guy who was an entrepreneur a church leader a salesman a manufacturer, if you will, he played a lot of different roles most people aren’t aware of historically. But he spoke about the authority and currently has and he said it was giving me for one purpose he says this to a group of people, “It was given me to build you up not to tear you down.”

But I’d like to think about that today…

How do I build people up that report to me?

How do I build people up and my organization?

Do I give responsibility and authority away freely?

Do I inadvertently overlook people, thereby tear people down?

Do I try to position something that works just for me so that I get the best part of the deal?

Again that’s not using power well that will tell others down in an effort to build yourself up. But if you build others up give them opportunity, speak wisely at them, support them, honor them, I think you’ll see your power will grow, people will respect it and you’ll be able to wield it very wisely.

So consider today how you’re using the power that you have in the role that you play as a leader.

Lincoln said if you want to test a man’s character just give him power. Wielding power wisely is a great privilege and sometimes a fearful responsibility. So what is power good for?

Dr. Donahue works with catalytic leaders and leadership teams to help leaders maximize their leadership capacity, sharpen missional clarity, build transformational groups and teams. He is a growth coach to senior leaders who act as catalysts for change personally and organizationally.

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2 thoughts on “Wielding Power Wisely

  1. Bill, one of the things I love about this post is that it reminds leaders to think about the responsibilities that come with “power” BEFORE they abuse it. Many leaders I know (and I’m sure I’ve fallen into this) experience tremendous regret AFTER they’ve steamrolled over someone via their authority. While this self-awareness is better late than never, how much better to have learned the lesson before inflicting damage.

  2. So right Scott. Power, authority and control are awesome but fragile responsibilities – self-awareness does help. A kind of preventative maintenance! Best o you and your team at the WCA!