Power Corrupts

It is not power that corrupts but fear.

Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and

fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Power over others is a corruptive force.  It is probably truer that power attracts the corruptible.  People, who are more conscious and more compassionate, are usually more attracted to sharing their power.  Power, fully expressed, tends to reveal the true nature of the individual. 

People have plenty of reasons to distrust their leaders. 

One of the most troubling statistics about cheating is that students and business people are beginning to argue that cheating is necessary because everyone cheats.  It has become part of the culture of capitalism; lying, cheating, and stealing are proven ways to get ahead in a culture that values competition over community and compassion. 

Among senior executives within the U.S. financial industry who were interviewed in 2012, over half believe that the rules may have to be broken in order to be successful. They believe that they have to engage in unethical or illegal activity.  Nearly half admitted to being tempted by insider trading.  Nearly one third say they feel pressured to compromise their ethical standards and even to break the law.  http://www.forbes.com/sites/frederickallen/2012/07/10/financial-executives-sure-we-lie-and-cheat/

The 2014 political campaigns demonstrated a new level of political corruption and lying.  http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2014/10/30/fact-check-2014-campaign-whoppers/18081211/.  In September 2014, a federal judged overturned an Ohio law that prohibited lies in political ads, claiming it violated free speech.  Free speech = freedom to lie and produce false and misleading political ads. 

Our leaders also make promises to gain our allegiance, or our votes, and routinely break those promises. Maybe broken promises are nothing new.  We want to believe the promises.  We want to exercise our right to vote, and sometimes we have to choose between the lesser of two liars and con artists. 

Maybe it is the cumulative effect of broken promises and outright lies that has brought us historically low levels of trust and confidence in leaders, low voter turnout, and low levels of civic engagement. 

If leaders have to lie and make promises they cannot keep, then we, those of us with strong moral compasses, not only don’t want to follow those leaders, we also don’t want to be that kind of leader.  Hence we are facing the end of leadership and followership, as we have known them.

That is not necessarily bad news.  In a culture where everyone leads, trust is essential.  If we strive to be egalitarian in our leadership style, we must learn to collaborate and share power.  When we strive to exercise shared power, we are mutually dependent upon character traits like integrity, honesty, compassion, respect, and honoring our word. 

What qualities of leadership are essential for you?  What kind of people do you want to engage with, and share power with?  Are you willing to respect diversity of all kinds?  Are you willing to disagree with love and respect?  Are you willing to be accountable to your colleagues or co-leaders, while also holding them accountable? 

Please complete our brief online survey.  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/L65ZPJ6

We want to know your expectations, hopes, and ideals?  What will it take to create the trust that is needed for genuinely shared leadership?

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