“Power With” or “Power Over”: Which is the Way Forward?

“Power With” or “Power Over”: Which is the Way Forward?

Recently, I was in an interactive workshop of female leaders, and a number of women voiced that they had negative feelings around the word “power”. I must confess, that was my belief for a number of years, based on my experience with leaders and leadership. However, recently I have changed my perspective around power after being energized and impressed at the way so many of the female leaders around the world responded to the pandemic. They were confident, decisive, and worked collaboratively with their teams and even consulted female leaders in other countries regarding their policies, practices and lessons learned.

The time has come for us to change our mindsets from “power over” to “power with”. Examples of “power with” include how Jacinda Ardern during the pandemic broadcast nationally to her fellow New Zealanders in her sweatshirt coming from a place of empathy and understanding, rather than command and control. How scientists from around the world banded together to find a vaccine for COVID-19 in record time, also demonstrated “power with”.

When you think of “power with”, what images does it conjure up? What does it mean to you? I see men and women standing together in a circle holding hands. I see community. To me it means admitting I don’t have all the answers and working together with others to solve complex issues and generate creative solutions. When I think of “power over” I think of a man on his own at the top of a hierarchy, making the decisions on his own from a place of ego, without seeing the need to consult with and understand various perspectives.

“Power over” is when one person or group unilaterally, usually through their political and/or financial influence, imposes their views and ways of working on others for their own gain, rather than trying to understand others and see the world through a different lens. They are threatened by new ideas and perspectives and often want to maintain the status quo that keeps them in power. They also encourage and support competition over collaboration.

The days of the Lone Wolf are over. Complex issues such climate change and systemic racism require leaders from a variety of backgrounds, disciplines, sectors and countries to solve them.

I believe that “power with”, which involves collaboration, is the way forward.

In order to collaborate it is important to:

  • Believe that more than one “head” is better than one; that multiple perspectives around an issue lead to more creative and sustainable solutions
  • Trust those you are collaborating with
  • Be clear on your role and that of others in the process
  • Have values aligned with those you are collaborating with
  • Be open to new ways of understanding and looking at a problem
  • Come from a place of service; of making a positive difference in the world.

What does power look and feel like for you? I welcome your thoughts and comments below on “power over” and “power with”.

The Power and Influence We have as Women

The Creative Living Community respects the power and influence you as a woman have in your day-to-day life. We believe that by sharing the tools to Creative Living* and by working with women to enable them to find peace within themselves, they will in turn be able to build it in their families, communities, workplaces … and ultimately the world. Working with High Achieving Women and enabling them to quiet their busy minds, spend more quality time with their families and friends, find work/life balance, work smart and stay healthy, is a key strategy toward realizing our larger vision of an interconnected global community of women contributing to building peace.

Have you ever sat down and thought about the power and influence you have? I’m not talking about being the CEO of a company of 1000 employees or being a highly paid and sought after speaker, or a best-selling author with thousands of readers, although you may be. I’m talking about you as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, colleague … . In your day-to-day life you interact with many people and have the power to influence them in positive ways.

Have you been in the presence of someone who really makes you feel like you’re important, that you’re being listened to and truly heard? What qualities make this person memorable? Do they look into your eyes, appear grounded and have their attention truly focused on you? Do they act genuinely concerned about your well-being? Are they truly responsive to what you have to say rather than reactive? Do they speak with you from their heart?

When we interact with others from a place of being grounded and from a place of inner peace, rather than thinking about the next thing on our “to do list” or reacting to something someone says, it affects the quality of our relationships and how people “feel” around us. It also affects our productivity, health and well-being and that of others with whom we interact.

* There are seven keys to Creative Living (outlined in the book “Creative Living: Learning to Dance with Life – A Guide for High Achieving Women” currently being written by Pamela Thompson, founder of the Creative Living Community). Integrating the seven keys into your life and cultivating the practices within each one will lead to a life of increased happiness, health, fulfillment and inner peace. The keys to Creative Living are based on the personal experiences of Pam Thompson, her work with clients in the developed and developing world and evidence from neuroscience, eastern psychology and the therapeutic value of the arts.

Are you interested in joining our global community? What piques your interest about this group? Please post your thoughts, comments or reflections below,