As is often the case, I had two books on the go. But talk about opposites.
One discussed the necessary place of power in the workplace. With compelling examples the authors remind that we function in a competitive world and just as on the sports field, if you aren’t prepared to conquer, be prepared to be conquered. Run or get run over.
In fairness this quick capture is far from doing justice to the valuable insights explored by the authors of The Wizard and the Warrior.
In truth, Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal do a fine job of outlining the need for companies to be equipped and ready to engage what can appear to be competing orientations – the Wizard and the Warrior. Both are needed.
The Wizard is able to survey the surround and then speak with understanding and wisdom about not only what is seen but also those things that remain unseen. But gaining the insights of the Wizard is not enough.
Appear on the battlefield as a Wizard when the situation calls for a Warrior and the outcome is clear. As the authors point out, an organization that has no warriors is at great risk from ones who do. Power used well and wisely is essential.
The Warrior understands that when opposition appears there is an inevitable and necessary time when strength and power must be summoned to conquer what needs to be conquered.
When a competitor encroaches on your turf threatening to steal away what is yours and risking the safety of all, power cannot give ground.
My other reading was very different. Heartbreakingly different.
This was no treatise on how to triumph in the marketplace. Rather it was a depiction of power and entitlement at its abusive worst. This power feels a right to gorge at a table of its own needs and wants.
Innocents lured by deceit and empty promises.
Young ones who should have lives of promise ahead sacrificed to depraved exploitation of body and soul.
In Terrify No More, Gary Haugen talks about the work of International Justice Mission (IJM) which operates across the world doing what it can to bring a voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless.
Though the need is far greater than the resource, teams of lawyers, investigators, social workers and related workers have assisted local authorities to release and rehabilitate little ones as young as five years from brothels that exist for the pleasure of abusers and money grabbers. They bring to light the dark places of workers who live enslaved to cruel masters. Manipulative debt and repayment demands that cannot possibly be met ensure that they and their children are fated to be generational slaves.
Through IJM’s efforts, the exploited rejoice when victories are won and release is accomplished. They breathe again when prosecutions are successful and justice finally arrives. Life begins again when demeaning and exploitive power is shattered by a greater, ‘I am my brother’s keeper’ power that not only looks but responds.
As Haugen makes so clear, abusive power functions when we choose not to peer into the darkness. It flourishes when we turn away not wanting to see what we would rather not see. It gets buried under the quest for a better price point not caring that a CEO’s extra profit perks are extracted on the back of a weary child laboring at a dimly lit factory til dawn.
This power is more than abusive. It is evil.
How deluded we have become as we evaluate bottom lines that allow us to feast at corporate table oblivious to the needs of those who have made our lifestyles possible.
Our business pursuits cannot passively observe these things. If profit comes at the expense of subjugating others, it is high time to forego some profit for the greater profit of exercising real power that brings hope and freedom to those who have been mistreated and abused. Such actions are not avoidable because:
One day victims will get a hearing.
One day victims will gain a voice.
One day the powerless will pull back the curtain and observers will be unable to walk away.
One day victims will look us in the eye and we will be unable to look away.
How much better to step in and redemptively use our power now. That power transforms and frees so when it comes time to sit down at a heavenly table, we can look at one another with smiles and no regrets.
by Rob Inrig
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