Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Padmum and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get nine different flavours of the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Grannymar.
In India, if you mention the word power, everyone without exception will talk about electricity or the lack of it. It is such an important part of life today that the frequent breakdowns, quaintly called, power cuts, load shedding etc, cause a lot of inconvenience to homes, farms, businesses and industry. There have been occasions when I have had to terminate online chats and skype calls because of this problem as well as delay some work when it depends on the computer. This got to irritate me so much that I have installed a very POWERful inverter to give me stand by power for a couple of hours, but not everyone can afford such arrangements and it is a frustrating aspect of our lives here. Hospitals, hotels, restaurants, factories, and other businesses inevitably have to depend on stand by diesel generators which add to the cost as well as pollution of the already polluted atmosphere.
But that is not what I suspect Grannymar had in mind when she suggested this subject. I bet that she had something totally different.
Let me see if I can come up with something that would resonate with her thoughts.
Power can be discussed in two broad categories – sources and uses. Briefly, sources are, wealth, position, expertise and concern. The first two are self explanatory but the last two need a little explanation.
The power arising out of expertise, is something that all of us face frequently. Let me take the example of the use of this computer on which I write these words. Without the expert support of my son for soft ware applications and professional support for hardware maintenance, I won’t be able to perform as well as I do now. Those two elements in my life can and do exercise their power over me, just as plumbers, electricians tailors etc do.
The next one is the power that mothers exercise over their children by giving care and concern to her children. In our culture, the father is the exerciser of power of position being the patriarch and he is often used to scare the children by the mother with cautions that he will be called to discipline the children, but children eventually work out that this is an empty threat unless in extreme cases. Children however cannot run away from the power of concern that the mother exercises. Such power is seen in the case of caring doctors, nurses and effective managers.
How is power exercised? In two ways, to punish or to reward. I don’t have to elaborate on these two aspects, but the background that I have given here can be stretched to study and analyze the sources and uses of power from the micro level to the macro level.
In my previous avatar as a manager, this was very much part of my duties in developing managers to assume greater responsibilities and I was inspired to use the material that one of my great heroes of those days, John Kenneth Galbraith, an Ambassador to India from the USA wrote about in his great book, “The Anatomy of Power”.
What I learnt about Power in the early eighties, continues to assist me in understanding interpersonal dynamics in all walks of life, particularly in my mentoring activities, where I see frequent cases of condign and occasional cases of benign use of power by control freaks in personal and business lives.
For those who are interested in learning more, I can do nothing better than to recommend JKG’s book.