Power Poisoning

April 15, 2013

Power Poisoning

In a recent interview with Dan Pink, Bob Sutton (the author of  The No Asshole Rule) talks about his new book, Good Boss, Bad Boss, and “power poisoning.” He believes that power can poison leaders in the following three ways:

  1. They become more focused on their own needs and wants.
  2. They become less focused on the needs of others.
  3. They act like the rules don’t apply to them.

All leaders are potentially vulnerable to power poisoning. Has power poisoned you? Here are two questions to test whether it has. Be sure to answer them honestly:

1. What team members’ needs have you recently addressed, and how?

2. Do you feel like some organizational rules don’t apply to you? If so, which ones, and why?

If you have trouble answering the first question, chances are you’re too focused on your own needs and wants. And if you feel like you’re above some rules, you may also be in need of a “power poisoning” antidote.

Less Power, More Empathy

Don’t let power–or the quest for more power–derail your leadership. Keep yourself grounded with Emotional Intelligence and Servant Leadership; these two leadership guides illustrate the importance of generosity and community–both to your development and to your organization’s.


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