How We Cause Flow & Blockage as LeadersMay 24, 2023
We're all responsible for finding leverage and creating conditions for organizational success, especially as leaders.
From a holistic understanding, this means creating flow through the organization and fostering organizational thriving on all key indicators from profitability, engagement, and trust to mental health, retention, and creativity. Yet, there’s a common blindspot in conversations about these responsibilities of ours: how we cause flow and blockage with how we embody power.
Precisely how we each cause flow and blockage can feel mystifying or complex as there are many facets of flow, tension, and blockage in an organization, but here’s a perspective that hopefully helps simplify things. We define power as the capacity to move energy through systems. There are two main forms of power that we all express — Power that Serves the Whole and Shadow Power.
These two types of power create distinct states and impacts in ourselves and others.
The more Decision Making Power, Positional Power, Resource Power, and Network Power you have at work (*the attributes often, though erroneously, implied to define "power" in its entirety), the further the impacts your Power that Serves the Whole and Shadow Power ripple through the culture and operating procedures of your organization.
// Pause //
How is this landing? Where do you notice electricity and/or clenching in your body? What can you recognize more clearly in yourself, your team, and your org through this perspective?
In my experience, most leaders (and humans) sincerely want to “do better”.
Aka create more benefit and less harm. But when people don’t have (1) the language or (2) the capacity to make these distinctions, they are flying blind by not knowing how to tell what form of power they’re deciding, designing, behaving, or communicating from in any given moment.
To conduct great flow and be effective stewards of dynamic, participatory systems that create cascades of benefit for all, we must look in the mirror, see precisely how we conduct these two forms of power via the 30+ types of power that exist at work, and take responsibility for our patterns as well as our growth.
- Notice one thing you frequently do at work that reliably creates a state listed above under Power that Serves the Whole, as well as one thing you do that reliably creates a state under Shadow Power. Intentionally commit to putting down the shadow pattern and enhancing the pattern that serves the whole.
- Learn more about the rich landscape of power with this free resource — How to See Your Real Power.
- If you’re ready to see precisely how you embody Power that Serves the Whole and Shadow Power and take actions to shift your patterns, take our new Power Assessment for Leaders to get the clarity you need to increase how you conduct flow and benefit for yourself and others.
Join the Wayfinding Community
Sign up for insights about embodying and stewarding Power that Serves the Whole at work