Thursday, July 12, 2007


The Constitution of any nation is usually a subject that arouses interest and high emotions in both the political arena and the general citizenry. For any nation, the constitution is a document that gives guide lines on how the nation will be run and also elaborates on the rights of the citizens. The constitution also gives power to the president to do certain things and make certain decisions concerning the nation.

However, for many third world nations the president has so much power that he can easily become oppressive within the confines of the Constitution because it affords him the power to do so. This is not a fair deal for the people because power vested in one man or woman can become lethal for the entire nation. As we speak, there is a battle for a new Constitution underway in Zambia and the issue of limiting presidential Powers and the separation of the Legislature from the judicial system is high on the agenda.

Is power bad? Of course not BUT how one handles that power is key. In fact I like the word Authority better than power because it seems to communicate the idea that one is actually placed in an authoritative position by some else- in the case of a president its the people that elect and give authority.
I do not mean to go on a political tangent but politics offers the best example for what I want to talk about; The Seduction of Power.

Have you ever been in a situation where your peer at work was given a promotion and his personality seemed to change overnight? All of a sudden he couldn't have lunch with you because he cannot be seen interacting with a subordinate. Believe me this does happen.
You might get this same reaction from a person who has moved out of your low class neighborhood into an upper class one. All of a sudden they cant interact with you because you're below them.

Well, power can do this to people and I want to deal with one major reason for this kind of metamorphosis. Now there are many reasons but I personally think this is the major one; Poor self Perception.

Self-perception is simply the way you think of yourself.
Power seduces when it finds a person with a poor self-perception. It makes you feel good about yourself like you're an achiever and can make things happen. Power in many cases motivates a person with low self esteem because with power you're somebody and people can listen to you. Power becomes bad when it finds and operates through such a person.
The possession of power does not necessarily mean you're a Leader and no one explains it better than Dr. John C. Maxwell in his book "Developing the Leader in you."
He says there are 5 stages in the Leadership Ladder. I've put his comments in parenthesis () and the rest is just my own expansion of what he was saying.

At this stage ("people follow because they have to.")
Your influence is merely because you've been designated as the leader by virtue of your position. In my opinion this is the most dangerous place because its so easy to abuse power in order to get people to do what you want them to do.

Here ("People follow because they want to.") This is where Leadership begins to feel like a good deal because everyone is a free participant. Yes you will get a good output from the people you lead because to a large extent they are self motivated for whatever reason.
But this is still not the best leadership has to offer.

LEVEL 3: PRODUCTION- At this point (" People follow because of what you've done for the organization.")
Your track record becomes a reason people would want to follow you. A successful track record would mean you're doing something right and people always what to be a part of a successful team.

LEVEL 4: PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT- ("People begin to follow because of what you've done for them.") Here you're committed to developing leaders that would carry on your success. You begin pouring yourself into people and their overall growth. When they progress your whole organization will progress.

LEVEL 5: PERSONHOOD- At this stage ("People follow you because of who you are and what you represent.") This stage is unfortunately one for seasoned leaders. You don't get to this place overnight. You must have a solid track record, a good following of successful proteges- people you've spent your life developing and growing through your experience. This is where we should all strive to be.

Now power and Authority play a major role at each stage. You will tempted at to be prideful and ignore other people because you think you've arrived. The moment you do that, you would have fallen prey to the seduction of power.
Power seduces when it senses a crack in your character and or personality. Every stage of Leadership calls for the mastery of power because the higher you go the more people will respect you and allow you to influence them. However, with such trust comes also the temptation to take advantage of the people we Lead.

Therefore, we should be careful in placing so much power in anyone individual as is the case in many third world countries. When power seduces Leaders they become tyrants and that's not what God intended power to do.
Therefore, be careful of how you handle power and authority because it will determine your longevity as a Leader.

Your Success,

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