Power Reveals Character

abraham lincoln quotes

Johnathan was a very smart man. When his coworkers had a problem or grievance, they would go to him to render his advice even though he had no authority over them and worked side by side with them every day. Not only was he smart, he was a hard worker. He worked for a purpose. He wanted to be the leader of his section of the organization.

For years he watched his manager take advantage of him and his coworkers. He would exploit and manipulate people for his personal benefit. He would do things such as make all his people work extra hours and do extra jobs without doing the same himself so he would get his personal bonuses without rewarding or recognizing anyone else. He knew his manager was wrong and had frequent conversations with his coworkers over lunch and breaks about the injustice.  He promised himself and those in his inner circle that if he ever had the opportunity to lead he would never act in the same manner.

It so happened in the months the position did become available and as a result Johnathan won the job. Everyone was excited because they knew things were about to turn around. The just knew that had a good smart and hardworking leader that would have their back and lead them to success.

As soon as his promotion was announced, Johnathan decided that he HAD ARRIVED! His office chair became his personal throne and his former coworkers transformed into his newly appointed servants. He spoke down to everyone and became lazy.  When he found a mistake, instead of correcting it in a constructive way, he took the opportunity to kick them in the teeth. Rating people and berating people became his M.O. Most of the people turned on him and only did the bare minimums, but the few that stayed loyal became his personal servants who he would manipulate on a daily basis. He forced them to sing his praises to feed his ego. He would become upset if they weren’t telling him how wonderful he was.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Good leaders know the character of their staff. They find this out by testing them.  Handpick someone to take on a particular project and give them COMPLETE authority for a predetermined timeframe.  See how they respond.  Are they just and make moral decisions or are they abusive? Do they fall apart or can they truly LEAD?

Power doesn’t change people. It only makes you more of what you already are!




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7 thoughts on “Power Reveals Character

  1. Rajiv says:

    This is so very true. It can bring out the best, or worst, in you.

  2. Great post Cranston…sad that many times this is a true situation

  3. excellent point. I’ve always wondered if I would hold up if given power. And, having said that, back in college, in a HR class I was taking, we did a group exercise and afterwards we all had to rate each other with a “They would make a great co-worker” or “They would make a great boss” I unanimously got “boss”, and I’ve never forgotten that because it showed that I needed to be a better “team” player.
    So, I work on that, and don’t assign tasks that I haven’t or wouldn’t do myself!

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