The rules of using and wielding power in management

Photo by Yoppy

A few weeks ago I finished reading the Jennifer Fallon’s third Epic Fantasy book from the Hythrun Chronicles Wolfblade Trilogy. One of the characters in the book is a deformed slave dwarf that has to survive using his wits. He finds himself in a position of power, responsible for the education of the royal family, teaching the children about using and wielding power. He has a set of rules that he makes the children learn by heart and they appear in different parts of the book. I finally found a list of all 30 of them online. I want to talk about three that I particularly liked while reading the book and that I think might apply to management.

1. Have a reason other than the pursuit of power, for pursuing it: you can substitute this with money or fame or whatever else you like. The wonderful and powerful concept of Obliquity. Of true purpose. This idea somehow resonated in the last few books I read (Good Business and Change to Strange) and in a philosophy course I am taking. The answer to the question – what are we here for? – must be convincing. If it is, the rest will come naturally.

2. Accept what you cannot change — change that which is unacceptable: When I first read the sentence I had to stop and re-read it. And then again. It describes wonderfully the balance of contradictions I talk about in my philosophy page:

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said that “the true test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time”. Thus, don’t forget:

Good enough is not good enough. Beware of the fallacy of the average and the allure of mediocrity. Going safe is the riskiest thing you could do.

But, at the same time.

Don’t let the great be the enemy of the good. Be willing to fail miserably and then fail again. Fail better.

The more I read and think about issues like business, education and personal growth I come to the same conclusion. It is about balancing two extremes. Conformity on one side and uniqueness and rareness on the other side.  Or in other words, between accepting what you cannot change and changing what you cannot accept.

11. Do the unexpected – this seems banal and even cliché, however, it really connects to the last point. In order to do the unexpected you have to create expectations. In order for this advice to work well, you have to create expectations and then break them. How does this concept apply to business strategy or to employees’ motivation? Unexpectedness can be a powerful tool.

What do you think? Are these ideas implementable for managers?


2 Responses to “The rules of using and wielding power in management”

  1. Grant Says:

    Hey Elad,

    Hope you are well. If you want a good metaphor, check this out. I think it can equally apply to how we communicate at work .


  2. sherfelad Says:

    Hey Grant,
    Good to hear form you! Hope you are well.
    I am well aware of the research described in the article you point to. It is fascinating. I think I wrote about it in the past as part of one of my reviews to Gladwell’s book – Blink… I do think it has many business implications. If I get accepted to a Ph.D. program this is one of ideas for areas of research… keep the interesting comments coming!

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