This morning, Gentle Reader, I have decided to offer you a shorter entry. I have offered this short passage to situational and role-defined leaders or those aspiring to be role-defined leaders. For the past 30+ years I have found this passage to be helpful to me as I struggle with the ‘desire for power’ versus the ‘power of influence.’ Greenleaf writes:
I learned very early about power when I dropped out of college for a while to earn some money to go on. For a few months I found myself, at age nineteen, jettisoned into a powerful, if small scale, management job, and I had a large enough dose of that virus to last a lifetime.
Later, at age twenty-two, when I entered AT&T, I quietly resolved that, whatever I did I would not become a manager. It took some fast footwork in my early years to avoid being pushed into a manager’s job, clearly for my own good as well-meaning bosses saw it because it was the obvious path to a powerful (and lucrative) spot to which all able and ambitious young people were presumed to aspire.
I am deeply grateful that this huge power-centered company, without always understanding what was going on, allowed me to live my life the way I wanted to live it and to evolve ultimately into a position of great influence – without using power (that is, without holding in my hands the sanctions to compel others to do what I wanted them to do).
I managed a small staff of influence-wielders who likewise had no power.