Power conferred

January 1, 0001

For most actions, forceful coercion isn’t possible or even realistic.

People are obeyed because they are in positions of authority in systems respected as legitimate or because they have relationally earned trust.

In either case, power (defined as the ability to effect action) is actually conferred by the governed, not enforced by the governor.

I have been in conferences where people agree to security requirements (don’t take photos), hear them from organizers (don’t take photos) and then decide to…

Take photos.

In most events leaders can’t confiscate cameras or eject people (although in some very serious situations they can).

This just illustrates that most of the time leaders at any level cannot force.

They can only persuade or inspire.

In that case, on the leader’s side, power (defined as the ability to govern) is really the capacity to earn trust and the ability to communicate what needs to be done in an inspiring way.

If people disobey you, it’s probably a lack respect or trust.

But here’s something I have noticed: If people obey you (in some sense) rapidly it’s EITHER because they respect and trust you, your position,  …or they don’t care enough about the thing being ordered to put up a fight.

Respect and trust are better, especially when you get to something that someone does care about.  Respect and trust can be gained, position or no.

They can also be lost.

The show of respect can be offered to a position but real respect and trust can never be demanded, only earned.

How are we earning the respect and trust of others? Best to do it by looking out for their good, serving them, lifting them up.