In an era that has surfaced the gender, race, and economic biases implicit in our cultural definitions of powerful leadership, we have also exposed the self-serving and self-reinforcing nature of that powerful leadership. We can see how our examples and modifiers of powerful leadership have served the powerful and institutionalized powerlessness elsewhere.
Further, in our current climate of one upmanship, brashness, bravado, and the loudest-is-the-leader, we may have actually reached the logical conclusion of our old cultural notions of powerful leadership.
So, I would like to offer a different lens through which we can better see and understand and cultivate our power, as well as the power of those around us: Leaderful Powership.
I am nothing if not a language and grammar nerd, so understanding the concept starts there.
The idea of Leaderful Powership simply inverts the traditional and accepted concept of powerful leadership to make power the subject and leader the modifier.
Power is a condition of human existence (not the privilege of a select few). “Ship” as a suffix denotes that condition. Powership. We all have it, whether we know it, apply it, or leave it wholly untapped.
Being leaderful, then, is a modifier of our human condition of power. “Ful” as a suffix means to be “full of” or “characterized by.” To apply “–ful” to power in a description of the human condition (i.e. powerful) is redundant, or at least not very insightful. Again, we are all powerful.
So, applying “-ful” instead toward how we use that power (leaderful) could provide some clarity and insight to how we live and work with each other, leading, following, and the like.
How do we become leaderful, given that we already have power?
Perhaps in simply reorienting subject and modifier, core condition and qualifier, we can also reorient how we invest in our personal development and our abilities to support others’ development. Perhaps we can use our own power to help others grow theirs, leaderfully.
These basic reflections were the spark that ultimately led to my book: We Power: Building Powerful Relationships That Can Change Your Work and the World.
Check it out to see where the thinking led!