Do you feel you have power?
Power is an interesting notion. Recently, I was at the TED conference where I was hanging out with some pretty powerful people (CEOs, general managers, thought leaders, inventors, fellows, authors, and so on) so I thought I would ask them how they got their power, and how powerful they felt believing that some would share stories of collaboration.
Not only did I not get what I expected, I learned something about power itself. It turns out that talking about power is like a Rorschach test. Some people were clear that they were powerful, some thought power was evil (meaning they thought power could be easily corrupted), but the vast majority thought that power was something that didn’t apply to them. They thought power was something other people had.
Does this surprise you? Probably not. Since that conference, I’ve carried on this conversation with about a hundred people. A lot of people feel the same way. If you had a normal distribution curve with folks who think power is evil on one side, and the ones who felt they owned Power on the other, the vast majority were in the middle.
The challenge with people feeling powerless is this: we don’t see how we can contribute to solve problems. We believe it is “someone else’s” to own rather than something any of us can contribute to. Powerlessness leads to apathy on global issues and disdain on local issues.
Without understanding or believing in our own power, we never engage. And engagement is what creates connections and ultimately value creation. Now I am thinking a lot about the power of collaboration and what it can do to shift power inside organizations to be distributed and shared by many. But I realize so many people think that power isn’t theirs to begin with.
So I started to think about who both collaborates and has power to see if that could offer a lesson for all of us to both get our own power and see the power of collaboration. And you know who does both collaboration AND power? Batman and his crew. That’s right the Cape Crusaders! Batman didn’t do the world-saving-things himself; he understood the power of a Robin and an Alfred and he collaborated well with the police. He got the value of collaboration. And I think it made him and his party more powerful in their mission. There are 7 lessons of collaboration that Batman can teach all of us.