Why is it so hard to wield power authentically?
I hear this question from a lot of current and aspiring leaders.
Some of it may have to do with impostor syndrome (which we’ll discuss in a future lesson).
But for me, it comes down to two challenges:
- We have had power and influence wielded against us in a way that was harmful, or we witnessed it done to somebody else
- We fear at some level (maybe even just subconsciously) that a part of ourselves will, once it gains power, be changed or also use that power and influence to ill effect
Power and influence are hard to wield because they may not feel safe to wield based on our experiences and conditioning.
This is no surprise in the current workforce or leadership models.
The amount of highly sensitive and empathetic people I know and have worked with that have undergone bullying, fear, or outright traumatic experiences in the workplace, at the hands of their colleagues and leadership, is quite large.
This may range from something on the more minor side, like being excluded by colleagues or knowing your boss has favorites or preferences, to a very challenging and painful experience, like harassment, discrimination, being gossiped about, gaslighting or being fired not for just cause.
If this has happened to you, you’re not alone. And it’s not your fault.
Highly sensitive and neurodivergent people are at higher risk for this sort of treatment in a workplace that has been conditioned to be masculine, capitalist and neurotypical.
Even if nothing outright has happened to you, you still may feel the pain or embarrassment of somehow feeling… different, or like you don’t fit in.
This can then make it feel very difficult to want to claim and hold leadership, power, and influence.
If we’ve suffered at the hands of somebody else holding power over us, and seen its ill effects, why would we then want to pick that up?
Part of our growth in leadership, then, means healing these past wounds, and learning, with the time it takes, to see power as an…