Power Trippin’

As managers, many face the challenge of handling the power that comes with our position. All positions of management have some notion of power attached, whether the person filling the role deserves it or not. The fact that they were selected to be the manager gives them that power.

[shareable cite=”Doug Thorpe”]Use wisely the power of your position.[/shareable]

What happens when power is abused? Power in the wrong hands can be disastrous or sometimes, just comical.

On a recent flight I encountered a power-trip of the greatest magnitude.

As the boarding process began with all the various announcements, one of the desk agents took the mic and began a tirade about checking bags that would not fit into overhead bins. She further said that if bags were not checked right then, she would wheel the metal structure that is used for checking bag sizes throughout the gate area and personally check for non-compliant, (hint “bad people”) bags.

Courtesy 123rf.com / Monticello
Courtesy 123rf.com / Monticello

A few minutes went by. Apparently, by her estimation, not enough passengers participated in her checkpoint. She stomped away from the counter, over to the bag checker contraption and wrestled it to its wheels. She turned and headed straight for the massive throng of people waiting to board, dragging this metal chariot behind her. We watched in awe as she ran over people’s feet dragging the judgment device with her.

Truthfully, she looked more like a pack mule than a well-trained flight professional. First one bag, then the next was checked for its right size to see if it would fit the precious bin space. The more bags that passed the test, the more determined the gate agent became.

She finally gave up, having declared maybe three bags out of 100+ unfit for bin storage. She returned the gizmo to its home up against the wall.

Courtesy 123rf.com / bowie15
Courtesy 123rf.com / bowie15

My fellow travelers were standing in shock and disbelief of such a spectacle. Clearly, power of the position had gone to her head. She knew she had authority to rule this captive audience. She was going to prove her point regardless of what a display it would become.

If you have recently been given greater authority over a matter or perhaps a new role, consider how you are going to choose to use that power.

  • Can you lead with authority without lording it over the people from whom some kind of cooperation is needed?
  • Have you gotten intoxicated with the idea of what the power might mean?
  • Are you scheming ways to make your subjects bend?

If you are a manager, I hope you will take a moment to look at your use of the power that comes with your position.

[reminder]Leave a comment about the first time you realized you had this power. [/reminder]