Power is potential. It is a metaphorical bullet in the breach, and while the gun is locked away, there is no issue. When in the hands of someone who blindly desires power over others, the bullet is transformed. Then, the power manifests itself as a pyramid that does not yield. It’s a structure with no give and take, allowing others only to comply. These leaders can be easily judged by their words, behaviors, and attitudes toward those they use to carry out their orders and needs.
I learned early as a teenager about the unyielding pyramid and witnessed the abuse of power while working during Christmas at the railyard unloading 100-pound bags of mail. I saw and heard how the laborers were treated. I was appalled by what I witnessed and asked the wrong questions, for which I was quickly transferred to the kitchen. As a hungry kid, I thought this was the best that could happen!
Many years later, when working with people in power, I observed that confident leaders surrounded themselves with intelligent, strong, open people, and they readily shared their power and control. I learned that these were rare people. At the same time, I saw how difficult it was for many others who wanted me to solve their staff problems to accept themselves as being the main problem at the root of their relationship issues.
The proof was right in front of them, although they could not or would not see it. Instead, they faulted those they led without considering their own behaviors. For example, what message does the leader send by asking questions and then not listening, not looking at the speaker, or doing two things at the same time?
Flattening the pyramid is the first step towards successful and productive leadership.