It is amazing how corrupt people can become when gaining the slightest amount of power. Power can be a catalyst for change or the demise of a good person, depending on how it is handled. Much like money, power merely exposes what lies beneath the surface. In short, it is a magnifying glass for the soul. If they are lacking integrity, moral stability, or character, power will only serve to expose it. This is why those in pursuit of it must be careful.
Prior to the election, John Dean, Richard Nixon’s former lawyer, voiced his concern that Trump could be one of the most corrupt presidents ever—and get away with it. He said:
The American presidency has never been at the whims of an authoritarian personality like Donald Trump. He is going to test our democracy as it has never been tested.
One of the main reasons is in order for a person to really understand authority, they must be submitted to another to someone else’s leadership. A Bible verse in Matthew’s gospel reads:
For I am a man ‘in’ a place of authority, but also I am ‘under’ authority.
The backdrop for this is a conversation between Jesus and a Roman centurion soldier. The awesome thing about this dialogue is the perception of this soldier. He states he has learned the delicate balance beam of authority. Many know exactly how they think they should act when they are “in” authority but have little respect for the chain of command. As Sir John Dalberg-Acton once said:
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The delicate balance of authority is not taught in high school, and many do not learn it in college. It is usually after entering the “real” world that it becomes evident not many know how to handle “authority.” Trump is proof positive that he did not grow up before he blew up and now has no clue on managing authority. Here are a few tips to keep on remaining level headed while walking in power:
- There is no such thing as power just for the sake of power: In the movie, “The Amazing Spiderman”, Peter Parker’s uncle told him, “Great power comes with great responsibility.” It is important to remember that anytime people are given a position of power, they must understand what is expected to be accomplished. Without a clear agenda, people are bound to veer off course.
- Power always needs accountability: Reckless managers running around free to do whatever they want in the name of results is tantamount to chaos. Gone are the days of the office “wild west” approach to leadership. Organizations have learned to build in accountability systems to stop the abuse of power.
- Real leadership is about influence, not intimidation: It is baffling how many believe after they receive a title, all they have to do is yell, “Follow me!” and everyone just lines up. Leadership influences others to achieve the common goal, not because they are forced to, but because they are empowered to.
- Authority starts with good self-leadership: Leadership boils down to how well a person can hold him or herself accountable to their own internal goals. Without this internal compass, they will lead themselves, and everyone connected to them, astray. In recent years, many have seen what the deterioration of morality has done to society. From athletes to Wall Street to the White House, society has witnessed a serious decline.
Whether one has recently been given keys to the “big” conference room, brought home a bundle of joy from the hospital, an officer patrolling a neighborhood or the President of the United States, all have the unique privilege of possessing authority. Take these tips, build a system of checks and balances, and keep in mind what the delicate balance of authority really means. The job is never to become a tyrant over others. Rather, seek to be the moral compass of inspiration in these seemingly lost days.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
The Washington Post: Poll: Trump’s leadership ratings sink to a new low
The Atlantic: John Dean Interview
Liberty Voice: Egypt’s Coup d’état: Another Transition of Leadership
Top Image Courtesy of Sebastian Vital’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Michael Vadon’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License