The High Cost of Power Without Purpose: Why Motives Matter

Within business or industry, power refers to the capacity or ability to exert control or influence over a situation or person. The pursuit of power is perceived as an admirable trait that embodies a sense of ambition and a willingness to succeed.

Articles and books addressing leadership and management practices that impact the workplace often do so with a positive approach. With that said, if true change is to occur within organizational constructs, issues that can detract from success must be discussed.

For this article, an often unaddressed issue is the cost to organizations and the workforce when positions of power are pursued with the wrong motives.

Power and Self-Motivation

While power can bring about significant benefits, when sought after with self motivation, it has the potential to wreak havoc on established organizations and systems.

Power-hungry individuals harbor an insatiable desire to expand their influence, often to the detriment of the workforce and organization. They will bend the rules, break norms, and dismantle the structure to achieve their goal. In doing so, they destabilize the systems that were previously functional, efficient, and effective.

Power pursuits destroy established systems by creating an unhealthy political climate. Individuals are then motivated to get power through force or intimidation. In that environment, members of the workforce may not feel able to stand up for their beliefs or speak up against wrongdoings.

Critical checks and balances that were in place to prevent corruption and unethical practices are brought down, leading to a declining system of governance.

Negative Power Impacts the Workforce

Another way that seeking power can lead to the demise of established working systems is through the side-lining and replacement of competent leaders.

When the power focused seize a level of control in an organization, they marginalize or remove effective performers. That approach paves the way for the appointment of individuals more aligned with their own interests.

This new hierarchy is inclined towards compliance and obedience by underlying threats, rather than competence and effectiveness. When competent leaders are replaced with handpicked loyalists, the organization’s ability to enable positive change becomes significantly compromised.

The pursuit of power leads to the erosion of trust and confidence in systems that worked well in the past. When individuals claim unearned experience to ensure placement, the workforce loses faith in the organization’s willingness to uphold a climate of trust.

The Cost of Pre-Selection

Organizations that become disrupted or destabilized by pre-selected placement of the “Loyalists”, become vulnerable to fraud, abuse of power, and inefficiency.

Pursuing a position of power is fine when intended to create a positive cycle of continuous improvement. Yet, when exercised selfishly, it can lead to the destruction of well-established, functioning systems, and destroy employee morale and retention.

When individuals subscribe to the perception that the end justifies the means, they overlook the value of integrity. In the short-term, pay and power may come, but their legacy, and damage done to the workforce and organization, is one of destruction.

Strong organizations can take decades to build. Yet, they can also be brought down quickly when management builds a pool of like-minded loyalists, rather than the competent.

Considering the Right Motives

Successful organizations have a healthy climate and culture among the workforce. Those pursuing power positions should consider their motives and willingness to pursue experience that makes them qualified.

The wrong motives harm good people, disrupt effective team building, and ultimately weaken the organization. True success is found not by attaining power, but by fostering a functional and sustainable system.

Resolving the Workplace Project

If the descriptions of the workplace noted above look familiar to you, please consider the anonymous survey that’s part of the “Resolving the Workplace Project”.

The purpose is to identify areas within employment sectors in need of management improvements, then find productive solutions. The survey results will help to support a new book, intended to identify issues, and find healthy and positive solutions.

Because the survey is anonymous, the results will not disclose the good people that helped with this research and book project. Your help could be a part of changing broken employment structures across our nation.

About the Author

Anthony M. Davis is a Certified Leadership, Success and Stress Coach. He is a clinically trained Board Certified Hypnotherapist.

He has earned a national reputation for his Transformative Life Centering work with clients from across the nation. His unique approach helps clients remove underlying fears and triggers, and then through coaching, helps them pursue and accomplish life and career goals.

He provides coaching and Hypnotherapy sessions remotely through Zoom. If you have challenges with procrastination, Contact him HERE to create the life change you desire.

In a Prior Career…

Immediately following 9/11, Mr. Davis was the creator and publisher of the Homeland Security Report (before there was a Dept. of Homeland Security). His audience was law enforcement, first responders, and security professionals reaching thousands of readers across the U.S. He published the HSR for 12-years before focusing on global sciences & technology, and cyber.

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